"I've not solved the mystery of the Internet," he says. "I love the computer. I bless the word processor, but I'm intimidated by the Internet. I'm humiliated by being intimated by a process that every 14-year-old kid in the country approaches with ease and confidence. But I will do it."
About five years ago, Schlesinger started his memoir, the writing of which was interrupted by other projects, speaking engagements and the like. "In order to maintain a standard of living I have to lecture a lot," he says. "I've taught for most of my life, but I don't miss teaching."
Another distraction is the presidential election deadlock, which Schlesinger recently opined upon for Time magazine. "It's not like the election of 1960," Schlesinger says. "I'm sick of hearing about Richard Nixon's noble gesture. It's malarkey. There was no basis for Nixon to do anything else besides concede."
The commanding, elegant, omniscient tone of Schlesinger's writing is the same in person: He seems to know everyone, have read everything, and, of course, can fire off a well-thought-out opinion on anything.
"[Al] Gore would probably make a pretty good president," he says. "I like him personally. I've known him a long time. I don't know [George W.] Bush. I know his parents. But any president that doesn't know that Social Security is a federal program makes one wonder."
The diversions of the day come and go, but Schlesinger says he really hopes to get back to practicing the trade of history writing. After a pause of almost half a century, Schlesinger says it's time to finish his epic work on the New Deal, which he has continued to research over the years. There are, he figures, another two or three volumes to write.
Still, he first has to write the second installment of his autobiography, half a century of personal history that stands between him and his magnum opus.
"I want to complete 'The Age of Roosevelt' before I pass on to that great library in the sky," says Schlesinger, "As soon as I complete my memoir. I'd find living without writing intolerable. I'm never happier than when I can sit down and write."