Thursday, March 01, 2007


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Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was a respected biographer of FDR when he became an advisor to John F. Kennedy and then a special assistant to him in the White House. In the early 1960s, he transferred a phrase from Emerson to devise "The Politics of Hope" as a bold assertion that survives Camelot to still speak to some of us today.

He was a political player and theorist, judicious and penetrating. In the Kennedy years he showed that an intellectual could provide inspiration as well as guidance in politics, and as a writer he showed that intellectually substantive prose could also be popular. His 60s experience informed his subsequent writing on presidential power, and he also wrote one of the better books on the John F. Kennedy's presidency, and another on Robert Kennedy. He continued his incisive political commentary as recently as his 2004 book on the historic errors of the Bush administration. As an elder and an inspiration, I pay my respects to his memory.

His New York Times obituary is here.