Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: The Man on Whom Everything Was Lost, says Joseph Epstein in Commentary





Others have offered a kinder, gentler view of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. than the one provided by Edmund Wilson in his diaries. “He was a great historian and an incomparable witness,” said Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, in announcing the library’s acquisition of Schlesinger’s voluminous personal papers this past November. LeClerc went on to compare Schle-singer, who died a year ago at the age of eighty-nine, with Voltaire—to the latter’s detriment. Voltaire, after all, may have been “the historian of France, but he didn’t get in the inner circle the way Schlesinger did.” The recent publication of Schlesinger’s diaries* is a useful reality check on such claims. The book also provides an account of a career in American liberalism that is, in microcosm, a partial account of the career of the liberal temperament itself over the past half-century.



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