Saturday, March 03, 2007

Some Schlesinger Articles

Commentary Magazine has linked to some interesting articles (all PDF) about Professor Schlesinger and his works. If you want to learn something about the man, rather than read empty tributes, give them a try:

Robert Kagan, Review of Schlesinger's A Life in the Twentieth Century (March 2001)

Kenneth S. Lynn, "The Schlesinger Thesis" (March 1987)

Midge Decter, "Kennedyism Again" (December 1978)

Michael Novak, "The Presidency & Professor Schlesinger" (Feb. 1974)

Irwin Ross, Review of Schlesinger's The Vital Center (Oct. 1949)

Edward N. Saveth, Review of Schlesinger's The Age of Jackson (Feb. 1946)

In the comments to Norman Podhoretz's "Contentions" article, the comment of James Piereson strikes me as exactly right:
It is difficult to disagree with Norman Podhoretz’s judgment that Schlesinger’s work as an historian was compromised by partisanship. The problem with Schlesinger’s work, as Mr. Podhoretz notes, is that he interpreted the past through the prism of the present — and his view of the present was always shaped by the interests of the Democratic party. There is, for example, the Age of Jackson, where Schlesinger argued that Jackson’s populist administration was a forerunner to the New Deal — ignoring the fact that Jackson’s populism called for decentralization, federalism, and private markets. The Whigs, and later, the Republicans, were at that time the party of internal improvements through federal spending and intervention. Up until the time of the New Deal, the Democrats were the party of states rights, the Republicans the party of national power. Schlesinger wanted to claim that the Democratic party has been the instrument of liberalism and reform from the very beginning of the nation — a claim which overlooks about two-thirds of the nation’s history.

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