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Robert Nisbet

May 2024
1min read


Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities emeritus, Columbia University

Most overrated:

John F. Kennedy. Shortness of term by virtue of assassination has nothing to do with a fair judgment of JFK. In his experiences with the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam and the deposing of Diem, the confrontation with Khrushchev, and the response to the steel companies’ price increase, he demonstrated an immaturity that would doubtless have become more and more glaring in the public eye had he lived.

Most underrated:

Calvin Coolidge. A monarch was known through most of Western history for the age he presided over: viz., Pericles, Augustus, Louis XIV, Elizabeth I, President Washington, et al. The 1920s is probably the single most resplendent age of culture the United States has known: in the novel, in poetry, drama, criticism, in music (jazz, blues, etc.), and in art—if only in the motion picture. Coolidge has as much right to an “Age of Coolidge” as Louis XIV or Elizabeth I had to theirs.

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