Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.
I. MY ROLE ON September 11 was to be a reporter for The New Republic. I was in downtown Brooklyn, and from my rooftop I watched the first tower crumble, and then I ran downstairs to the street with pen and notebook and plunged into the crowds fleeing over the bridges. I spoke with one person after another, asking what they had seen. They told me. I compiled my report.
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa By Jason K. Stearns (PublicAffairs, 380 pp., $28.99) The history of Congo is the history of mass murder. What is going on today—with rebels, government soldiers, and armed groups from neighboring countries raping and slaughtering Congolese civilians—is a continuation of the ruthlessness that has been embedded in this country for more than a hundred years.
The Decline and Fall of the American Republic By Bruce Ackerman (Belknap Press, 270 pp., $25.95) Bruce Ackerman, a professor at Yale University Law School, does not mean that the United States has collapsed like the Roman Empire, or that it will. His title refers to the American constitutional traditions of limited government—what the Founders and some modern legal scholars call the “republican” form of government. Ackerman thinks that the presidency has burst these limits: it has become too powerful, and eventually it will be seized by an ideological zealot who will abuse executive powers.
Journals: 1952-2000 By Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger (Penguin Press, 894 pp., $40) I. FEW HISTORIANS write personal journals that deserve publication, which is not surprising. How much interest can there be in the academic controversies and petty jealousies that dominate the lives of working historians, much less in the archives, the private libraries, and the lecture halls where they spend so much of their time?
John Adams By David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, 751 pp., $35) I. At the height of the XYZ Affair in 1798, when American public outrage against France verged on war hysteria, President John Adams briefly enjoyed the sort of popular acclaim that he had long thought he deserved. In Paris, the French foreign minister Talleyrand had tried to bribe three American envoys sent by Adams to negotiate an end to continuing maritime hostilities between the two erstwhile allies.