- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (August 16, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684814803
- ISBN-13: 978-0684814803
- Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson Hardcover – August 16, 1999
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After three years of cooperation with author Jan Jarboe Russell, Lady Bird Johnson ended her participation in this biography when she got a look at an essay Russell published about LBJ's infidelities in 1997. Russell paints a fascinating portrait of Johnson--a far tougher and shrewder woman than the dutiful image she presented as first lady in the 1960s--but she also unsparingly depicts LBJ as a mighty poor husband, something his intensely loyal spouse could never countenance. When she met Lyndon Johnson in 1934, friends couldn't imagine what smart, rich, 21-year-old Lady Bird (a nickname acquired in childhood) saw in a crude, impoverished young politician whose ego far outstripped his achievements. But she was used to overbearing men--her father was one--and the pragmatic young woman walked into marriage with her eyes wide open. She supported LBJ unquestioningly, not just emotionally but with the income from her business dealings, and quietly relished the exciting life into which he swept her. While making clear her distaste for aspects of the Johnsons' marital bargain, Russell nonetheless offers a nuanced account of a complex relationship in which Lady Bird played a more forceful, equal role than many realized. This revisionist biography has purpose and bite. --Wendy Smith
From Publishers Weekly
The career of Hillary Rodham Clinton aside, it is only recently that the office of First Lady has been understood as engendering political power. The past decade has brought books detailing the complex relationship between presidents and their wives, in particular Blanche Wiesen Cook's landmark biography detailing the enormous role that Eleanor Roosevelt played in U.S. domestic and foreign affairs. Russell's engaging new biography of Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, written in part as a corrective to Robert Caro's multi-volume LBJ bio, Path to Power, is an attempt to move its subject out from under her husband's shadow. After extensive interviews with Mrs. Johnson, Russell presents a complex portrait of an intelligent woman trapped in the social conventions of a "Southern matron," whose idealization of her father colored her relationship with her husband and whose commitment to social justice helped shape LBJ's war on poverty. Russell's analysis is often insightful, as when she discusses how LBJ's class prejudice affected Lady Bird's fashion choices, or her conscious decision to distance herself from Jackie Kennedy's image as a decorator by identifying publicly with Eleanor Roosevelt as a "useful first lady." Focusing on Lady Bird's influence on LBJ's career and politics, Russell ends the book with the Johnson administration's final months, in 1969. Though it offers new and important historical information, Russell's effort, unlike Cook's brilliant work on Roosevelt, falls short of completely revising or illuminating our vision of the Johnsons' lives, politics and times. Agent, Jim Hornfischer of Literary Group International; first serial to George and Texas Monthly; History Book Club selection. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lady Bird is known for her Beautification Project and it was largely her influence that spurred Johnson to pass many bills during his administration.
A decent book, but Robert Caro's biography is much better and much more in depth.