Stephen Schlesinger

Book: The Letters

The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. reveals the late historian’s unvarnished views on the great issues and personalities of his time, from the dawn of the Cold War to the aftermath of September 11.

Here is Schlesinger’s correspondence with such icons of American statecraft as Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, and, of course, John and Robert Kennedy (including a detailed critique of JFK’s manuscript for Profiles in Courage).

There are letters to friends and confidants such as Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kenneth Galbraith, Gore Vidal, William Styron, and Jacqueline Kennedy (to whom Schlesinger sends his condolences in the hours after her husband’s assassination), and exchanges with such unlikely pen pals as Groucho Marx, Sammy Davis Jr., and Bianca Jagger.

Finally, there are Schlesinger’s many thoughtful replies to the inquiries of ordinary citizens, in which he offers his observations on influences, issues of the day, and the craft of writing history.

Quotes & Reviews

“[T]hese letters provide a fascinating perspective on the struggles and strains inside the liberal wing of the Democratic Party...”
Professor Sean Wilentz, The New Republic
“Schlesinger’s political intelligence in his correspondence is excellent, the level of discourse and purpose high, the sense of responsibility as keen as the sense of fun.”
George Packer, The Sunday New York Times Book Review
“Nostalgia isn’t the only reason to read these letters. Another is to be immersed in a world where someone cares deeply about ideas and peoples.”
Elizabeth Taylor, Literary Editor, The Chicago Tribune
“To re-enter the world of his correspondence is like a form of time travel, giving the reader access to the same vertiginous ride he was on, following the presidency and the course of American liberalism from its high-water mark under FDR, through its many peaks and valleys since then.”
Ted Widmer, The Daily Beast
“A treasure trove that enriches understanding of some of the men and women who helped shape events from World War II to the present.”
Kirkus Review
“A must for the American history collection.”
Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
“I enthusiastically recommend this window into the world of a prominent historian who was also, in more than one way, a man of letters.”
Roger Bishop, Book Page