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A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917 - 1950by Arthur M Jr Schlesinger
Synopses & Reviews
As a preeminent historian of our time, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., continues in his many books and articles to show Americans who we are as a nation, to explain our past, and to illuminate possibilities for the future. But here, in the first volume of his long-awaited memoirs, he turns his acute historian's eye on his own past. In the elegant and witty language of one of our most readable writers, Schlesinger artfully reconstructs a twentieth-century life. Schlesinger's personal story is ultimately the captivating history of America coming into its own as a world power. It includes a fondly remembered childhood in the Midwest; life in America of the twenties; student days at Harvard, lived in the shadow of a distinguished father; Cambridge University in England in the twilight year between the Munich Pact and the start of World War II; the bitter debate in the United States in the months before Pearl Harbor; a stint overseas with the Office of Strategic Services; the fate of postwar liberalism, under attack from right and left; the origins of The Vital Center. Here is a dramatic evocation of the struggles, the questions, the paradoxes, and the triumphs that shaped our era. Interweaving personal and national stories, Schlesinger conjures up the colorful details of everyday life, offering readers a rare and revealing window on both the private world of a notable American writer and the innocent beginnings of the American century. A Life in the Twentieth Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950 is destined to become a classic.
"Rich, spirited...Assembles an all-star cast, with anectodes and subplots playing thorough the grand events of the Depression and the New Deal, of World War II and the postwar years when the cold war set in...A historian's dance to the music of time." Lance Morrow, Time Magazine
"The finest historian of our age has given us a brilliant memoir that is so much more than a memoir...A Life in the Twentieth Century combines history and biography so seamlessly that the reader is taken on a fabulous journey through the first half of the twentieth century." Doris Kearns Goodwin
"A major contribution to one's understanding of the century." John Kenneth Galbraith
"Historians for years to come will turn to this volume for a snapshot of a big slice of the World War II generation." Jon Meacham, Newsweek
"For more than fifty years, Arthur Schlesinger has been at the vital center of our public life. He has not only chronicled American history, he has helped to define it as the fighting intellectual of Americans for Democratic Action, adviser to Adlai Stevenson, special assistant to President Kennedy. . .What a remarkable life he has lived; what wonderful books he has written." President Bill Clinton, on the occasion of awarding the 1998 National Humanities Medal
"An insightful and absorbing account...one of the definitive histories of the period." Dr. Henry H. Kissinger
"An eloquent and insightful history of the seismic changes of the 20th Century, rich in personal anecdotes and observations." Tom Brokaw
"An autobiography of the top rank...Always illuminating...Wit, humor, and the resources of a natural storyteller sweep the reader along." The Economist
From America's most celebrated living historian comes this "sprightly, straightforward account of the first third of an active and charmed life" (New York Times). Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. turns a studied eye on a personal past and reconstructs the history that has made him such an iconic figure for generations of readers. A LIFE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY offers rare and revealing access to both the private world of a great American writer and the fine-grained texture of the American century.
Ranging from a fondly remembered childhood in the Midwest to a fascinating, storied academic and political life, this volume is an important addition to Schlesinger's body of work, "every bit as well written as anything Schlesinger has done" (Providence Sunday Journal) and "sure to be used by students of the times for years to come" (Boston Globe). "With style and humor and a master historian's deft blending of personal detail with epic events" (Wall Street Journal), Schlesinger evokes the struggles, the questions, the paradoxes, and the triumphs that shaped our era as only he can do.
About the Author
ARTHUR M. SCHLESINGER, JR., the author of sixteen books, was a renowned historian and social critic. He twice won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1946 for The Age of Jackson and in 1966 for A Thousand Days. He was also the winner of the National Book Award for both A Thousand Days and Robert Kennedy and His Times (1979). In 1998 he was awarded the prestigious National Humanities Medal.
Table of Contents
1 Backdrop 1 Part I: The Twenties 2 East from Iowa 23 3 Midwesterners in Cambridge 41 4 Life of a Reader 62 Part II: The Thirties 5 Prep School 81 6 Round the World 93 7 Harvard College: What I Did 108 8 Harvard College: What I Enjoyed 132 9 Harvard College: What I Learned 157 10 The Twilight Year 187 Part III: The Forties 11 A Nation Divided 221 12 On the Brink 241 13 Washington at War 262
14 Blowup at OWI 277 15 Oh So Secret 295 16 London 1944 314 17 Wars End 330 18 The Ages of Jackson 354 19 Free Lance 375 20 CPUSA vs. ADA 394 21 Alarums and Excursions 418 22 Back to Harvard 439 23 1948 455 24 Deals Fair and Unfair 483 25 The Vital Center 504 Index 525
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