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Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream Paperback – Bargain Price, June 15, 1991
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"Magnificent, brilliant, illuminating . . . A profound analysis of both the private and the public man."—Miami Herald
"Kearns has made Lyndon Johnson so whole, so understandable that the impact of the book is difficult to describe. It might have been called 'The Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson,' for he comes to seem nothing so much as a figure out of Greek tragedy."—Houston Chronicle
"Johnson's every word and deed is measured in an attempt to understand one of the most powerful yet tragic of American Presidents."—Chicago Tribune
"A fine and shrewd book . . . Extraordinary . . . Poignant . . . The best [biography of LBJ] we have to date."—Boston Globe
"An extraordinary portrait of a generous, devious, complex, and profoundly manipulative man . . . [Kearns Goodwin] became the custodian not only of LBJ's political lore but of his memories, hopes, and nightmares . . . We have it all laid out for us in this wrenchingly intimate analysis of a man who virtues, like his faults, were on a giant scale."—Cosmopolitan
"Absorbing and sympathetic, warts and all."—The Washington Post
"A grand and fascinating portrait of a most complicated, haunted, and here appealing man."—The Village Voice
"Vivid . . . No other book is likely to offer a sharper, more intimate portrait of Lyndon Johnson in his full psychic undress."—Newsweek
"Powerful, first-rate, gratifying . . . [The author] has proven herself worthy of Lyndon Johnson's trust; for by sharing his fears and dreams with us, she has helped us to understand no just one man, but an era, and ultimately ourselves."—Newsday
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Top Customer Reviews
Goodwin starts with Johnson's childhood and may get a little carried away with psychoanalytical insights including a reference to Freud. Her conclusions may be right on target but as she herself admits most of her conclusions were based on Johnson's tales of his childhood and he tended to remember his past as he wanted it to be instead of as it was. That same fault would haunt him as President as he convinced himself everything was fine when things were far from fine.
We get the first real look at the LBJ who would dominate the Senate while he is in college. There he works long and hard to overthrow the old guard and make himself the most powerful student on campus. The same tactics he used in college would make him the most powerful man in the Senate and the most powerful Democrat in the country while Ike was President. It seems that Johnson assumed he could use those same tactics yet again to make him as V.P. the real power behind JFK. Instead he found that Bobby Kennedy held that position and wasn't about to move over for Johnson.
Somehow it didn't sink in to Johnson that if what had worked so well in the Senate didn't work for the Vice President it wasn't likely to work for the President. In fact, as Goodwin points out, the very qualities that made him a great leader in the Senate often had the oppisite effect in the White House.Read more ›
ALso, Kearns' personal presence is in this book. SHe was an aide for Johnson, whom he cultivated and then used to ghost-write his self-serving memoir, The Vantage Point. So she is well versed in Johnsonia and 60s history and has great stories to tell about Presidential electric toothbrushes and the like. But you can also tell that she loved the guy - he would even creep into her bed at his ranch, where she describes herself as listening to him instead of you know what. I think that that great pol seduced her, if not physically then spiritually.
Kearns' voice is an important one, as her presence on TV attests. SHe is a fluent writer with a distinctive voice of unwavering optimism. However, you just have to wonder if she glides on the surface and avoids the tough questions, preferring instead to buy into self-promoting myth.
LBJ's Presidency was, indeed, a horrible tragedy. LBJ had the greatest of intentions in regard to civil rights, social welfare and fighting Communism. Yet, all ended up as a disaster. Civil rights, though surely the greatest aspect of his Presidency, has been regressed recently due to the fact that the action taken by Democrats and Liberals during the 1960's. The "white backlash" has resulted in a right of center national attitude on the subject. The Social Welfare policies taken by the Administration were quite succesful on some parts, such as Medicare, Medicaid, federal aid to K-12 public schools and Head Start, and horrible in others, such as the welfare crisis explosions and Model Cities. Yet, the overall assessment of these programs has been, unfairly I think, negative. In regard to fighting Communism, history all too tragically tells the story.
Goodwin, I think, draws a fair picture of LBJ's legacy here. She does not progress the view that he is a great President, but a would-be great President who deserves to be known as a 'good' one. He was a good one. He passed into law great programs, such as Medicare, Head Start, Minimum Wage increases, consumer protection, environmental protection and labor law reform. He pushed through 3 grant and giant civil rights laws. He is THE civil rights President, in my view. He pushed through the brand of legislation which no other President could pass through. Yet, Vietnam ruined it all. This sounds rather Clintonian!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An intimate analysis as well as a history of the workings of the Johnson administration. His personal revelations to her as she followed him out of the White House years into his... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Phillip Manson
A well written analysis of LBJ's political career. It provides the reasons for his success as a U.S. Senator as well as his successes and failures as President. Read morePublished 3 days ago by solera
And very good read. Doris Kearns Goodwin is an excellent writerPublished 3 days ago by Steven Vesely
The first part of the book was interesting but I just can't get past the authors stilted style of writing. So dry, making each point two or three different ways... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Dempsy Winans
I not only was able to reminisce, I also learned a great deal about the decision processes as to the social programs and the war in SE Asia.Published 5 days ago by Jon Hazelton
How can anyone say anything more superlative than what has already noted about Doris GoodwinPublished 6 days ago by loring nilsson
“what you accomplish in life depends almost completely upon what you make yourself do … a strong purpose, perfect concentration and a great desire will bring a person success in... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Chuck
I have read a number of books about LBJ so I hesitated to read this one. I am glad I did - I thought Doris Kearns Goodwin gave some insight that I had not remembered in other... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Alabama reader