Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary

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9781610392174: Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary

When Daniel Patrick Moynihan died in 2003 the Economist described him as a philosopher-politician-diplomat who two centuries earlier would not have been out of place among the Founding Fathers.” Though Moynihan never wrote an autobiography, he was a gifted author and voluminous correspondent, and in this selection from his letters Steven Weisman has compiled a vivid portrait of Moynihan's life, in the senator's own words.

Before his four terms as Senator from New York, Moynihan served in key positions under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. His letters offer an extraordinary window into particular moments in history, from his feelings of loss at JFK's assassination, to his passionate pleas to Nixon not to make Vietnam a Nixon war, to his frustrations over healthcare and welfare reform during the Clinton era.

This book showcases the unbridled range of Moynihan's intellect and interests, his appreciation for his constituents, his renowned wit, and his warmth even for those with whom he profoundly disagreed. Its publication is a significant literary event.

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About the Author:

Steven R. Weisman is editorial director and public policy fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington, DC; before that he was the chief international economics correspondent of the New York Times. He also served at the Times as a member of the editorial board, specializing in politics and economics (1995–2002) and as deputy foreign editor. He is the author of The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson—The Fierce Battles over Money and Power That Transformed the Nation, which received the Sidney Hillman Award in 2003 for the book that most advances the cause of social justice.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Weisman, a public policy fellow at the Peterson Institute (The Great Tax Wars) has accomplished an extraordinary feat in assembling this selection from among 10,000 pages of letters bequeathed by Senator Moynihan to the Library of Congress. Weisman provides a short overview of Moynihan's life and an introduction to each of his letters. In a moving epilogue, Maura Moynihan puts it best. Despite an active political life, her father, she says, was first and foremost a writer. "He wrote every day-even at Christmas." Not only was Moynihan's correspondence voluminous (he saved copies of every letter he wrote), he also authored several controversial books (Miles to Go, Secrecy and Family and Nation among them). Although he was a Democrat, and a member of JFK's White House, he also served as an advisor to Richard Nixon, an ambassador to India, a professor at Harvard, and was elected to the senate four times. With correspondence that begins in 1951 when Moynihan, upon finishing college after a stint in the Navy, attended the London School of Economics on a Fulbright scholarship, and ends shortly before his death in 2003, this collection is not only a tremendous resource to scholars, but an invaluable window into the mind and heart of an extraordinary man.

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