I spent the better part of the weekend with the wonderful Gore Vidal - reading the new selection of his essays by Jay Parini. I had forgotten how brilliant his take-down of the Kennedys, "The Holy Family," was. The comparison of JFK and BO has often been made - let's hope it is wrong. In Vidal's account, JFK's charisma masked as ambitious a politician as ever walked the earth, whose only principle was to to get to the top and who, once there, had no idea what to do.
Did you know - as I learned in his essay on William Dean Howells - that Howells was alone among the literary intelligentsia of the day in condemning the trial and execution of the Haymarket Martyrs? Conspicuously silent was Samuel Clemens, sad to say - who knew better.