Justin Kaplan, R.I.P.

by John J. Miller

The literary biographer has died. He went to Harvard, wrote a prize-winning book on Mark Twain, and did everything he could to keep Ronald Reagan out of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, which he edited. “I’m not going to disguise the fact that I despise Ronald Reagan,” he once said. And he didn’t, using his job as a gatekeeper of culture to exclude Reagan, as much as possible, from the most popular reference work of its type: Kaplan’s editions quoted Reagan just three times, and they weren’t even well-chosen quotes. Years ago, Adam Meyerson–then of the Heritage Foundation and now of the Philanthropy Roundtable–called out Kaplan and Bartlett’s: “He has allowed political bigotry to interfere with scholarly judgment.” Dead at 88.

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