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Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream Paperback – Bargain Price, June 15, 1991

4.1 out of 5 stars 224 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, June 15, 1991
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Editorial Reviews


"The most penetrating, fascinating political biography I have ever read . . . No other President has had a biographer who had such access to his private thoughts."—The New York Times

"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
-- Review

About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin, the celebrated historian who is also the author of The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys and other bestsellers, has written a new foreword for this edition of Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband and their three sons.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312060270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312060275
  • ASIN: B0044KN0QS
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,068,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin won the Pulitzer Prize in history for No Ordinary Time, which was a bestseller in hardcover and trade paper. She is also the author of Wait Till Next Year, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. She lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with her husband, Richard Goodwin.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Doris Kearns Goodwin has done a great service to history with this book. All too often members of any important person's staff take a far different approach to this type of project. Those who know their subject in ways the rest of us can never know that person often hide all of the warts and paint their former boss as a near saint. Not Goodwin. In this book the reader will get a look at the whole LBJ, good and bad.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Doris Kearns prefers to write about people she likes. This is fine, even if it is something of a limitation. WHile she prefers to avoid the "pathography" genre, unfortunately I feel that she gives people of power a bit too much of a break. She clearly lives in a different world than Robert A. Caro, who tries to balance the good with the undeniable evil and abuse. Kearns' world is populated by people of good will, inspiration, and talent; their backroom deals, egotism, and other less appealing aspects are mentioned, but do not seem to infect the more positive sides of their character. It is one view, and quite valid as far as it goes.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Goodwin's writing style is fluid and lyrical. She tells a story of a great president with a great deal of compassion and interesting criticism. Her personal experiences as an aid on Johnson's staff make this a unique account about him. Johnson allowed Goodwin close contact with his personality, political style, and drive to improve this country. The book has a great assortment of personal and public history with plenty of anecdotes thrown into the mix. This biography brings Johnson's inner character to life as well as details some of many policy decisions of his illustrious political career.
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Format: Paperback
For those wanting to see the tragedy which is Lyndon Baines Johnson, this book, as well as the new release by Robert Dallek("Fallen Giant"), is a perfect buy.
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!
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