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Journals, 1952-2000

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  230 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Journals: 1952-2000, by Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr.; ed. by Andrew Schlesinger et al.
Hardcover, 783 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2007)
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Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Man, I cannot remember the last time I digested a non-fictional work with such gusto. Schlesinger's journals are an intellectual adventurer's romp through the latter half of the twentieth century. Almost everything of political significance is recorded here, most from a comfortable distance, some right in the thick of it. Schlesinger's position at the crossroads between politics, academia, and high society allows the reader to see many big social figures in an intimate and personal light (Norman ...more
James Murphy
Feb 12, 2012 James Murphy rated it it was amazing
Arthur M Schlesinger Jr was a part of American history during the 2d half of the 20th century. Aware that he was part of significant events, he recorded the history he was part of, beginning with the first presidential bid of Adlai Stevenson. This is a political journal rather than a personal one. Occasional noteworthy family items make their way into these pages, but it's not about himself. His journal is about those he knew in government and public life. And it's about what they think, not wha ...more
Dec 24, 2011 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Most fulfilling and entertaining non fiction book I've ever read, written with great candor and eloquence. The insights into the private lives of so many of the 20th century's biggest names were truly fascinating. I'll probably pick this one up again from time to time, perhaps not to read all the way through, but to open onto any page and discover a gem of an anecdote I might have forgotten.

Another thing I would be remiss to not point out: I'm a college student, and this book has very much
Sep 29, 2012 Meghan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
An incredible book. I found it on top of my mother's dresser after moving here to San Antonio and had so much trouble putting it down. Arthur Schlesinger Jr was a very opinionated man - an author that had a lot to do with the government during his lifetime. This was a compilation of some of the journals he kept during his lifetime, something his sons put together as a gift to him, but sadly he died before they were finished. The inside look on the government, especially during the time Kennedy w ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
Interesting central view of national Democratic politics in the last 50 years. Also funny ruminations on speechwriting, political figures, foreign policy, history, authorship, media, dinner parties, Lauren Bacall, and Henry Kissinger. The man was at the front of a lot of history and talked to a lot of important figures, and also went to a lot of parties. He also has an old world view of women. But he sounded like a fun guy to hang out with, drink bourbon, and chat politics.
Impressive and long view of a history and policy career starting with Adlai Stevenson and ending with the start of the Bush years. Schlesinger has a lot of friends in the higher circles, and it's interesting to hear of his conversations and portraits of them.

On a side note, he mentions my hometown early on, and describes it is full of 'juvenile delinquents' and the 'worst crowd in years'. Not much has changed in 60 years, it seems.
Nov 23, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Reading all 858 pages of this book was a pleasure. If you can think of a politician in the latter half of the 20th Century, Schlesinger knew them and dishes in a highly amusing way. You’ll love JFK, Jackie read Proust!, LBJ was kind of a dick, Nixon was a horror (that’s not surprising), and Hillary is really funny…and I could go on and on. You read this journal and realize what is possible in a life, along with what was happening in the “American experience” at the same time.
Oct 04, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Finally! This one definitely took a while to finish for me, but I just knocked out the last 225 pages while waiting for my husband, who had an unfortunate encounter this afternoon with some kitchen scissors, in the ER. But fear not, he will be a-ok, and our long delay forced me to finish this bad boy.

I found this one difficult to rate. I enjoyed it, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, but I don't think I can really apply my usual criteria for judging books to this one. It is a journal, and
Vivian Valvano
Oct 21, 2009 Vivian Valvano rated it liked it
This a compilation of Schlesinger's personal journals edited by his two eldest sons. I realize that it is not meant to be a biography, but unfortunately, the editors provide no apparatus, no footnotes (just very, very,very few asterisks with a few words of explanation). I have been following politics and American government since 1960 and the election of JFK, so I knew exactly what I was reading about. But a reader with less background in government and politics and, for that matter, in American ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Liz rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in US history, 20th century
Recommended to Liz by: Katie Hanson
This was highly recommended by a friend, and a number of people in one of my book groups has since read it, pretty much all to positive reactions. Be warned, it is a large book. I am reading it as my break book at work which is why I have been at it so long. When I am reading, I am often tempted to keep it with me and keep on reading but because of its structure it is so perfect as a break book, I end up keeping it there.
I am a history buff and Schlessinger certainly was in the thick of a lot of
Schlesinger not only lived through some pretty interesting times, but had access to and knew all of the key players. The most enjoyable parts of his journals is when he provides his insider prespective on key events - Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missle Crisis, RFK's decision to seek the nomination in 68... We also get his personal opinions on some of the most important/interesting people of the last 50 years.

My dislikes: Schlesinger expresses disappointment at variuous times when public sentiment/opinio
Oct 04, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing
This was a tremendous book and a pleasure to read. You get a political history of the second half of the 20th Century through the eyes of the author, who was both a participant and observer. Full of fascinating political tidbits and gossip, a look at New York and Washington political/intellectual circles during these years and a running commentary on current events and public figures. I've read God knows how many biographies about some of the people discussed and I still learned a great deal abo ...more
Josh Teitelbaum
Oct 23, 2011 Josh Teitelbaum rated it liked it
This is such a fun read because Schlesinger clearly had such a fun time writing (and living) it. Dinner with Lauren Bacall one night, jetting down to Cuba the next. Sailing at Hyannis Port, swimming (with your clothes on) at Hickory Hill. Chock full of great anecdotes on Johnson, Kissinger, and the rest. Though, I have to admit I did put it down at 1976 because it's at that point the Journals becomes just a tedious series of recollections of interesting luncheons at the Metropolitan Club. But th ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Gordon rated it really liked it
Excerpts from personal journals provide rare behind the scenes view of the people and politics of the last 50+ years. Much rawer than most commentaries and gives facsinating insights into the personalities, private opinions, and social interactions of so many who shaped the world from JFK to Clinton. Most intriguing with the failures of Alai Stevenson in the 50's (who I knew little about), the rise of the Kennedys in late 50's and 60's, and the damage done by the Democratic schism between Kenned ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
Schlesinger was at the center of American politics for several decades and his diaries provide a rich commentary on the key figures of the late 20th century such as Kennedy, Carter and Clinton. What is disappointing is that this huge spectrum of characters is presented to us with no background context or footnotes. The book presumes that the reader is familiar with the politics and social circles described and this can be frustrating. Nevertheless the descriptions of these people and events make ...more
Oct 03, 2008 Jacquelyn rated it really liked it
Ok, I haven't actually read the whole book. I really liked it, in spite of him constantly referring to people by first names and having to search back to see who 'George' or 'Randoph' or 'Bill'was. Luckily, there were enough references to the likes of 'Bobby', 'Teddy', 'Averill', and 'Dwight' to help me through. But I had to stop before November, 1963. Just couldn't do it. I may still finish it.
Jan 11, 2013 John rated it did not like it
Shelves: own, nonfiction, mexico
I am certain it was not fair of me to give this one star but I do not care. I was so upset with some of the things Schlesinger wrote in his notes about some political people on the other side of the isle. Many of the things his children put in the book from his notes were of no interest to me . I have read books written by Schlesinger and liked them so I blame the problems with this book on the children who edited it. I guess I am also upset that I wasted three days on this.

Oct 07, 2007 Kirsten rated it really liked it
Well I don't start (and actually finish) too many 850 page books, so I guess that says something good about this one. The journal format made it manageable, and probably more candid and gossipy than if he'd had time to go over all the entries and write the second volume of his traditional memoirs. It was a good dose of 20th century American history, which is my favorite, and ultimately I was kind of sad when it ended.
Bob Primosch
Mar 26, 2011 Bob Primosch rated it liked it
Agree with most of the positives noted by other reviewers, but he comes across a little starstruck at times (Mick Jagger reads the newspapers - so what?). It also appears he never spent more than a cab ride with anyone who wasn't white, powerful and/or rich. That, combined with too much talk about cocktail parties, becomes heavy going over 900 pages.
Apr 02, 2008 Shelley rated it really liked it
Covers the years 1952-2000. This book was very interesting to me because it covers so much of my life and memories of historical events. A historian who spent much time with both JFK and RFK, Schlesinger writes with wit and humor, he has a great capacity for both empathy and common sense. Not for everyone, the book is long at almost 900 pages, I found it a wonderful companion for several weeks.
Kirk Bower
Interesting reading even in an 800 page book. Establishes a good history lesson of modern history from someone who lived it. Some have considered it 'elitist' but we need to remember it is Schlesinger's journals - I and me are acceptable.
Steve Dwyer
Feb 05, 2008 Steve Dwyer rated it it was amazing
An incredible journal of one amazing man's experiences over forty eight turbulant and noteworthy years. Of particular interest to me as the journal starts when I am two and covers so much of my young adult and adult life and the evnets that shaped my reality.
I have to be honest and say I skipped some of the stuff in the middle. It got to be a little tedious. I did like the interesting view of history and I grew to really like Schlesinger. He is honest, but never spiteful, in his recording of history and its main players. Great political history.
Sep 13, 2007 Edward rated it it was amazing
Norris Church Mailer dated Bill Clinton?! Sontag toured the USSR in '82 with Schlesinger AND Erica Jong in the same car?! Priceless little morsels such as these on every page--a fine distillation of 10,000 high profile cocktail party conversations.
Dec 14, 2008 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am almost embarassed I read this 1000 page book - he is such a schliemiel. But its got great stories and political inside baseball- he seems to have been at every improtant meeting and dinner party iover the last 50 years. Paticualrly great stuff about Adlai and Bobby kennedy.
Jan 24, 2008 Dan rated it liked it
A bit sycophantic in re the Kennedys but fascinating back-stage glimpses some politicians I grew up admiring (Stevenson, JFK, etc) and some I loathed (Kissinger, Arthur's neighbor Nixon, etc) along with literati, movie stars, and artists.
May 12, 2008 Bernadette rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much. I only wish I were more familiar with the less notorious politicos of the 60s and 70s. But all in all a fascinating read from a real gent!
Jan 05, 2009 JRB rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, rfk
An enjoyable view of the last half of the Twentieth Century, though it seems light on the JFK years.
May 01, 2008 Dick rated it it was amazing
An exceptional look into the life of one of America's great poltical insiders. Exquisitely written aand a fantastic story
Bob Peru
Nov 15, 2014 Bob Peru rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i ofttimes love journals from the get go and then lose interest. but this one? 800+ pages had me to the very end.
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Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and American historian and social critic whose work explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. He served as special assistant and "court historian" to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of th ...more
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