Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.: Journals reviewed in the NYT by Maureen Dowd





It’s hard not to like a book that expounds on Marilyn Monroe on one page and the Monroe Doctrine on the next. When Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. ruminates on the realm of hemispheric affairs, the transition from one Monroe to the other is seamless, as is the slide from Bosnia to Bianca Jagger and from Alexander Hamilton to Angie Dickinson. His diaries are a Tiffany’s window of name-dropping. This is not history so much as historical trail mix.

The old-school, bow-tied liberal and Kennedy courtier had a weakness for cafe society and Century Club martinis served by Arthur the Barbadian drinks waiter. He was just as happy talking about NATO enlargement or celebrity enlargement, fastidiously jotting down when Elizabeth Taylor, Norman Mailer and Robert Bork — and himself, “alas” — looked a bit fat. And heaven help poor John Kenneth Galbraith’s wife, Kitty, the night she showed up amid the “notables affably circulating,” as our diarist likes to say, “dowdily dressed.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian worried that he was frittering away time on the high life that could be spent on high-minded histories, but the old boy just couldn’t help it. Tom Stoppard started as a party reporter and Arthur Schlesinger ended as one. “Around 8:30 we went off to Romanoff’s for Gore Vidal’s party. ... I had a pleasant talk with Jack Lemmon — very small, quick; mobile features. I told him I had much preferred ‘Some Like It Hot’ to ‘The Apartment.’ ... I liked Shelley Winters. ... Lollobrigida was a disappointment.”


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