Rarely does an historian have the opportunity simultaneously to record and to influence history in the making, at the very source of power. Arthur Schlesinger’s position as Special Assistant to President Kennedy gave him an office in the White House, and brought him into intimate contact with the men who were directing the affairs of the United States, and with their counterparts abroad; he had a personal part in the great events and decisions of the President’s brief but dramatic administration. It enabled him to watch Kennedy at work, knowing him both as a personal friend and as a brilliant President.
A Thousand Days is a personal memoir, but could have been written only by a trained historian. Fast-paced and leavened by the author’s wit and by Kennedy’s own humour, it is the best evaluation of the Kennedy administration that we are likely to have in our time.