Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000

By Robert Allen Rutland | Go to book overview

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Daniel Feller

or nearly half a century, Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., has held a unique place among American historians. As a scholar he has been versatile and prolific, the author of foundational works on Jacksonian America, Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, and John and Robert Kennedy. He is without peer as a narrative stylist, and his books have found a large audience while meeting the highest academic standards. Yet Schlesinger has always been controversial, for his scholarship seeks overtly, even ostentatiously, to serve political ends. He has dedicated himself to an instrumentalist approach to history, to the uncovering of useful lessons for the present from the study of the past. He believes that history can inform policy making and that it is the civic duty of the historian to make sure that it does, even to the point of becoming a policy maker himself. “If intellectuals decided to abandon government to non-intellectuals, ” he has said, “they would have only themselves to blame for the result.” He has also said that political liberals, of which he is one, come in two kinds. “On the one hand are the politicians, the administrators, the doers; on the other, the sentimentalists, the utopians, the wailers.” Schlesinger himself has always aimed to be a doer. 1.

Accordingly he has lived in the public eye, writing for publications from Partisan Review and the New Republic to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Vogue, Parade, and Family Weekly. He has served two full generations as a kind of public preceptor and all-around cultural commentator, speaking as the nation's wise counsel and even as its conscience. He knows the ways of power and celebrity firsthand: he has reviewed books and movies, counseled a president, graced the cover of Time,

____________________
1.
A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 744; The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949), 159.

-156-

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Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Clio's Favorites - Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-—2000 *
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Bernard Bailyn 5
  • Merle Curti 23
  • David Herbert Donald 35
  • John Hope Franklin 49
  • Richard Hofstadter 68
  • Howard Roberts Lamar 84
  • Gerda Lerner 98
  • Arthur S. Link 111
  • Edmund S. Morgan 126
  • David M. Potter 138
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr 156
  • C. Vann Woodward 170
  • A Bout the Contributors 183
  • Acknowledgments 185
  • Index 187
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