Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Dead at 89

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. has died of a heart attack at the age of 89.

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Photo Jack Manning/The New York Times Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in his office at the City University of New York. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian whose more than 20 books shaped discussions for two generations about America’s past and who himself was a provocative, unabashedly liberal partisan, most notably in serving in the Kennedy White House, died last night in Manhattan. He was 89.

The cause was a heart attack, said Mr. Schlesinger’s son Stephen. He died at New York Downtown Hospital after being stricken in a restaurant.

Twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mr. Schlesinger exhaustively examined the administrations of two prominent presidents, Andrew Jackson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, against a vast background of regional and economic rivalries. He strongly argued that strong individuals like Jackson and Roosevelt could bend history.

The notes he took for President John F. Kennedy to use in writing his own history, became, after the president’s assassination, grist for Mr. Schlesinger’s own “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House,” winner of both the Pulitzer and a National Book Award in 1966.

He lived a long, incredibly productive life.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    I don’t think I’ve read a single one of his books — I have an aversion to Jackson, and only slightly less to JFK. Now, of course, that he’s dead, I will probably read something … isn’t that how it usually goes?

  2. norbizness says:

    I’ve read his exhaustive JFK and FDR pieces: he may have been a little too close to both of them to call them objective tomes, but they are both invaluable slices of American history. I probably should read the Jackson one as well.

  3. Anderson says:

    Ah, I was wondering whether to read the FDR volumes.

  4. Mark Sofman says:

    Read his Age of Jackson in college some, dare I say it?, 30+ years ago. Not one I would re-read and not one of my favorite texts, yet a significant and important one in that the book explained the evolution of American practices of politics, partisanship and faction in the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War. As for highly readable history (Horrors!) I much prefer David McCullough and Paul Johnson (just two examples)