A THOUSAND DAYS by Arthur M. Schlesinger
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John F. Kennedy In The White House
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This and Sorensen's Kennedy (p. 860) will continue to stand out long after the discussion of whether or not "instant history" is a valid, or even ethical, form. Schlesinger's book is much more intimate in tone than Sorensen's and its spiced word portraits of the men around Kennedy have drawn the heaviest fire based on the two pre-publication exposures in Life. Yet, it will be for these that future historians will thank him, while today's critics will read him avidly -- and then decry him, from huff to howl. Schlesinger obviously did not labor in awe of his President; theirs were equal, atypical backgrounds and they shared many of the same intellectual and social contacts. The many quotations he attributes to Kennedy and his circle show a keen ear for the flash fire of political wit and a taste for invective that was likely to be suppressed in their public utterances. This helps close the distance that has inevitably increased between Kennedy the man and Kennedy the martyr. A Thousand Days is more than a 1000 pages long if you count the index and Schlesinger has isolated the personalities, the election, the Congressional record, the international crises and the domestic issues in long, speculative chapters. He was aware of and particularly good at estimating the Kennedy influence beyond the political. In the arts, American humor, and intellectual as well as general attitudes, the Kennedy style had something going and the author/historian is especially competent to trace it. If Sorensen is the better memorializer, Schlesinger is the better visualizer. Both have written that seldom book -- the one you have to read and will probably want at home.
Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1965
ISBN: 0618219277
Page count: 1124pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1965


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