"Courage" was an interesting book and well worth reading, Kirsch said. "But the Pulitzer Prize? What were the judges doing? Where were they when Bruce Catton’s ‘This Hallowed Ground’ was published?"
"There was no more scholarship in Sen. Kennedy’s book than one would
find in a memorandum researched by one of his assistants or by a
harried clerk in the Library of Congress. There was no more style than
an editorial writer achieves on a dull day. Perhaps the judges were
bemused by the sight of a senator writing a book and decided to award
an A for effort."
In college, which was the last time I delved into Catton’s civil
war histories, I found them absolutely unreadable: thick volumes of
impenetrable prose. And Kirsch failed to mention that Catton had
already received a Pulitzer for "A Stillness at Appomattox." Don’t take
my word for it: Read the opening of "Hallowed Ground" courtesy of Amazon.com.
Now let’s have some fun and see Kirsch had anything to say about, oh, how about Richard Nixon’s 1962 book "My Six Crises"?
Hm. For some reason the review was turned over to veteran Times book
critic Marvin Seid. His verdict: "Six Crises" is a story told by an
unapologetic partisan; it will not, of course, please everyone. But
here is a story no one else could tell. Few who read it will be able to
deny that the Nixon who emerges from its pages is a man of dedication,
intelligence, political skill and–above all–guts."