Probably the best book review I’ve ever read

An absolutely hysterically funny dissection of Arthur Schlesinger’s Journals by the great P. J. O’Rourke. For those of us who see through the onion-paper-thin veneer of the Kennedy Administration, this review is a pleasure to read. Here’s an excerpt:

But Schlesinger dare not tell an outright lie. In one respect, Journals is a diary like younger sisters used to keep, with the key to the little lock on its pink vinyl cover conveniently “hidden” so that if big brother happens to read certain passages aloud to a particular handsome athlete .??.??.
The handsome athlete (well, sportsman, anyway) that Arthur had a crush on was JFK. Thus we see Kennedy in the middle of the 1960 Democratic primary campaign:
“Jack seemed tired, but was obviously in good spirits. His lack of pretense was refreshing; for example, he kept answering ringing phones himself.”
He answers his own phone!
We see Kennedy on his yacht shooting at floating Coke bottles with “Prince Radziwill”: “Jack is plainly an excellent shot .??.??. Then we drank Bloody Marys, swam from the boat and finally settled down for an excellent lunch. After lunch, cigars and conversation.”
He spoke to me!
And we see President Kennedy summoning some piece of speechwriting crap that he’d dumped on Arthur: “The next morning the president called to ask about the paragraph. I brought it to his bedroom about 9:30. He was eating his breakfast in bed. He had only his pajama pants on.”
Ooooooo!

And this gem:

Yet Journals is so much more than gush. Its pages also crack open a hellgate to give us a peek at the eternally consuming fires of egotistic solipsism to which the soul of a liberal is forever condemned. Not even the undying love that Arthur Schlesinger felt for Kennedy money, power, and prestige could redeem poor Art from the perdition that awaits the bien pensant. His is the sin of pride, such that produces the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society. It manifests itself in the deeds of the mighty. Or in the case of Arthur Schlesinger, it manifests itself in mighty bad taste. This, this, is his private reaction when his friend, his mentor, his beau ideal is murdered:

November 23
I heard the terrible news as I was sipping cocktails with Kay Graham, Ken Galbraith and the editors of Newsweek. Kay and I had flown in from Washington; we were there to discuss the future of the back of Newsweek’s book. A man entered in his shirtsleeves and said, a little tentatively .??.??.

Reread this: “the eternally consuming fires of egotistic solipsism to which the soul of a liberal is forever condemned.” Almost makes we swoon… Read the entire review, by another cirujano, deftly, though bloodily, removing the bloated tumors of the faux self-aggrandizement of Camelot.

1 thought on “Probably the best book review I’ve ever read”

  1. I’m so sick and tired of the Kennedy myth. I don’t know which is worst, the Castro myth or the Kennedy myth? Kennedy was an inept corrupt president who was the heir to a dysfunctional and dastardly family of social climbers and empire builders. He destined a friendly country to the south, Cuba, to the cruelest dictator the western hemisphere has known. I’m sure that Kennedy’s soul is not resting in peace, but is rather in a very uncomfortable and hot place.

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