From Publishers Weekly
From Lyndon Johnson's chief speechwriter of 20 years (1948-1968) comes a revealing chronicle of LBJ's career. Although framed around March 31, 1968--the day Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election--Busby's book (left among his papers when he died in 2000) incorporates his eyewitness perspective on far more than just the narrow slice of time between March '68 and January '69. Busby was 24 when he went to work for the then Texas representative. He accompanied Johnson on to the Senate, the vice-presidency and the presidency. Always, he was an insider, and a shrewd, observant and eloquent one at that. Frustratingly, the manuscript had no chapters addressing Johnson's Senate career and his rise to majority leader. One of Busby's best and most important chapters explains his role as a key Johnson functionary on the day President Kennedy was killed and through the subsequent transition. Here are dramatic, intimate details of an uncommon and historically important variety. For example, Busby, who sat up with Johnson and other close associates on the evening of JFK's murder, notes, "I can only describe it as a night--and a room--almost unbearably alive with quiet stillness." A preface by Busby's son and an introduction by Busby's good friend Hugh Sidey help put this noteworthy work in context. (Mar.)
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Despite the title, this memoir covers the 20 years during which Busby served as a trusted advisor and speechwriter for Johnson. This previously unpublished manuscript was discovered by Busby's son after his father's death in 2000. Busby came to work for Congressman Johnson in 1948 at the age of 24 after a brief career as a reporter in Austin, Texas; over the next two decades, Busby was a sounding board, occasional whipping boy, and always a fascinated observer of one of the most mercurial and gifted politicians in our history. Busby portrays Johnson as crude, overbearing, and frequently insensitive. Yet he was capable of great compassion for the downtrodden, and his worship of FDR and his devotion to the expansive policies of the New Deal era seem almost quaint in our age, when the limitations of massive government programs have been demonstrated. Busby offers wonderfully revealing anecdotes and insights as Johnson's career advances. This is an engrossing and important contribution to our understanding of a compelling political personality. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved