Part of the admirable American President Series, edited by Peters, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., and Sean Wilentz, this concise biography continues the rehabilitation of the man who served as the 36th President of the United States. Peters, a former member of Johnson's administration, asserts that Johnson, raised in the nasty world of Texas politics, remained ruthlessly dedicated to his own advancement and became a great, if flawed, statesman. Congressman Johnson's work ethic and fawning charm appealed to FDR in 1930s Washington, but in 1948, power took priority, leading Johnson toward conservatism upon entering the Southern-dominated Senate. Despite his brilliance as majority leader during the '50s, few took his presidential ambitions seriously and the 1960 offer to be Kennedy's running mate was viewed as his only hope. But after Kennedy's assassination, Johnson transformed himself again, this time into a compassionate reformer. His Medicare and anti-poverty legislation closed out the Roosevelt era, and his civil rights bills (considered hopeless under Kennedy) made him the greatest benefactor of African-Americans since Lincoln. Although Peters details Johnson's Vietnam debacle with new insight, readers will still take away a vividly positive understanding of this president's accomplishments.
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In the only hostile entry thus far in the American Presidents series, Elizabeth Drew questioned Nixon’s moral fitness to be president. Given Lyndon Johnson’s early election-stealing and sycophancy in New Deal Washington, later boorish and cruel treatment of subordinates, constant womanizing, and sense of inferiority that made him unreasonable about Vietnam—all of which Peters admits without hesitation—many may ask the same about Nixon’s immediate predecessor. Not Peters, who cuts Johnson so much slack for being a consummately skilled political maneuverer—the majority leader’s majority leader, as it were—that he is wont to think that, but for Vietnam, Johnson would be considered one of the greatest presidents. After all, Peters points out, LBJ’s domestic legislative achievement is second only to FDR’s. And there, for critics, is the rub. They feel that, while LBJ’s domestic goals were laudable, the laws he bullied through to meet them were deeply flawed and sowed the seeds of entitlement politics. Peters doesn’t acknowledge that such a critique exists. He convinces us, however, that the challenges Johnson faced required a great president. --Ray OlsonSee all Editorial Reviews
THIS BOOK WAS GIVEN AS A GIFT TO SOMEONE WHO READS BOOKS ON ALL THE PRESIDENTS. HE REQUESTED THIS BOOK.Published 8 months ago by JAY DUB
Very good. Concise and deliberate. Expresses most of his good work while in office.Published 12 months ago by Richard Testani
It's a quick read. Short of minor details but gives the important facts and reads well. Perfect for someone that doesn't want to read dozens of pages on every bill he was involved... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Edward S. Palanker
The publishers need to publish the few remaing presidents missing in this series. Otherwise should be required reading for all.Published 15 months ago by Morton A. Hirschberg
Having read all of Caro's books on LBJ, I wanted to see what someone else thought of his presidency. Enjoyed it very much!Published 16 months ago by JPS
The presidency of Lyndon Johnson has always fascinated me, to try and understand how a man could react to crowds shouting "Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Zachary Koenig
I read all the Biographies of the Presidents by way of the Presidential series. If you are going to do it, read John Hancock first because he was the first Continental Congress... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Frank Anderson
Well, Peters certainly gives us an entertaining picture of our 36th President. Johnson was Texas at the time, and his politics evolved from liberal civil rights to moderate... Read morePublished on January 9, 2011 by Kevin M Quigg