Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr.

Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., 1917–2007, American historian and public official, b. Columbus, Ohio, as Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger; son of Arthur Meier Schlesinger. He achieved early success as a historian with the publication, the year after his graduation, of his Harvard honors thesis, Orestes A. Brownson: A Pilgrim's Progress (1939). In World War II he served with the Office of War Information (1942–43) and the Office of Strategic Services (1943–45), and he was professor of history at Harvard from 1946 to 1961. His Age of Jackson (1945), a brilliant reinterpretation of the social, political, and economic aspects of the era, stimulated numerous American historians to reexamine Jacksonian America and won the Pulitzer Prize. The Age of Roosevelt (3 vol., 1957–60) is a sweeping narrative and analysis of the New Deal period in U.S. history, written from a strongly sympathetic viewpoint. Active in liberal politics, Schlesinger was a cofounder of the Americans for Democratic Action (1947). He served as an assistant to Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, and in 1961 President Kennedy appointed him special assistant for Latin American affairs. His study of Kennedy's White House years, A Thousand Days (1965), won the Pulitzer Prize for biography. He began teaching at the City Univ. of New York Graduate Center in 1966 and became an emeritus professor in 1994. His other works include The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom (1949). The Politics of Hope (1963), The Bitter Heritage (1968), The Imperial Presidency (1973), Robert F. Kennedy and His Times (1978), The Cycles of American History (1986), and War and the American Presidency (2004).

See his autobiography, A Life in the 20th Century, Innocent Beginnings, 1917–1950 (2000) and his Journals: 1952–2000 (2007).

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