- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Random House; 1st Edition edition (September 23, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781400067084
- ISBN-13: 978-1400067084
- ASIN: 1400067081
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 23, 2014
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Richly detailed . . . Landslide is a vivid retelling of a tumultuous three years in American history, and [Jonathan] Darman captures in full the personalities and motives of two of the twentieth century’s most consequential politicians.”—The New York Times
“Novel and even surprising . . . Landslide deftly reminds readers that Johnson and Reagan both trafficked in grandiose oratory and promoted utopian visions at odds with the social complexity of modern America.”—The Washington Post
“Riveting . . . Darman portrays [Johnson and Reagan] as polar opposites of political attraction. . . . Animated by the artful insight that they were men of disappointment headed toward an appointment with history . . . A tale about myths and a nation that believed them, about a world of a half century ago now gone forever.”—The Boston Globe
“Alert to the subtleties of politics and political history, Darman, a former correspondent for Newsweek, nimbly explores delusion and self-delusion at the highest levels.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Darman] has a deft grasp of Reagan’s and Johnson’s biographies and of the last half-century of American political history. Setting the book as a dual story . . . both rescues the story from the fatalism (for Johnson) and pluck (for Reagan) of biography and refreshes both of their stories by contrasting the simultaneous reversals of their respective political fortunes.”—The Daily Beast
“Darman’s compelling, sweeping narrative explores the myths that Johnson and Reagan invented about themselves. . . . Reminiscent of such spellbinders as Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm . . . and Jeff Shesol’s Mutual Contempt. . . . This title will engross readers of political history.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Smart and perceptive . . . Darman sizes up the careers of two political powerhouses and craftsmen, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, while claiming that each man’s impressive litany of achievements influenced the historical arc of American leadership. . . . Darman’s sincere and informative approach animates these historic figures, bringing them from the nostalgia of old TV clips and fading newsprint to the forefront of an engaging historical discussion.”—Publishers Weekly
“A rich, fly-on-the-wall narrative. If the current partisan gridlock has you pulling your hair out, this book will help you understand where these ripples originate.”—Booklist
“An intimate chronicle of the 1,000 days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, during which there was a sea change in the American electorate. . . . The author masterfully conveys LBJ’s agony, as well as former actor Reagan’s freewheeling spirit: He was the ‘Errol Flynn of the B movies’ who had aged out of his previous roles and needed a new gig as an American hero. Ambitious, studious portraits pulled together nicely by Darman.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Jonathan Darman turns fresh eyes on two political giants of the late twentieth century, LBJ and Ronald Reagan. Landslide is full of surprises and new insights on these two presidents, and is written with flair. A delicious feast of a read.”—Lesley Stahl
“Masterly . . . In taking us back to a moment in American history when politics worked, Jonathan Darman provides a resonant reality check on a system that now seems all too dysfunctional. The intertwined stories of Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan offer us a window on the intrinsic give-and-take that makes governing possible. Anyone who cares about politics, biography, and current affairs will find this a delightful and illuminating book.”—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
“Jonathan Darman writes with power, sweep, vivacity, and humor. He is at once a gifted storyteller, a keen judge of character, and a genie of political insight. He gives us two giants, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, in all their glory and human vanity, and takes us on a breathtaking thousand-day ride. The relevance to today will be achingly obvious to readers—who will be both riveted and disturbed by this moving, memorable book.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff and Robert Kennedy
“An ingenious and compelling book . . . With astute psychological insight, Jonathan Darman explains the motivations and achievements of these two men, how Lyndon Johnson’s downfall paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s rise, and how their overarching visions of governing became myths that defined the Republican and Democratic parties. Darman connects the dots between the lives of these two iconic characters in a dramatic and original way, offering a fresh perspective as he sweeps the reader through the events of the tumultuous sixties that reverberate to this day.”—Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen and Grace and Power
About the Author
Jonathan Darman is a writer in New York City. He is a former correspondent for Newsweek, where he covered national politics, including John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004 and Hillary Clinton’s in 2008. This is his first book.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
63 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 63 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book makes for a curious study in contrasts that doesn't necessarily hold together well. For example, Darman opens the book by describing what the two men were doing when Kennedy was assassinated. This is already an unfair and un-parallel treatment. As the world knows, Johnson was not far behind Kennedy in the motorcade, and he became president as a result of the assassination. Reagan was not an officeholder and was barely a political figure at all at this point, and he was simply working as an actor in a movie studio on the day of the assassination. So trying to draw a parallel between their respective events compares not only apples and oranges but tricycles too.
Politics happens not only in waves but in movements too. The liberal movement of the 20th century is generally regarded to have begun with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and many (including Darman) argue ended with the election of Richard Nixon in 1968. (I cite a competing argument below.) Thus, the Johnson landslide of 1964 was the final high-water mark of the movement. But the author attributes this as much to the failure of the Republican nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater to run a viable political campaign as it was to what Johnson brought to the table. Indeed, sympathy for the assassinated Kennedy (the election came less than a year later) is as probable an explanation for the election as anything. The author also argues that Reagan had an easy 1966 opponent in California Gov. Pat Brown (father of current Gov. Jerry Brown), whom he maintains was asleep at the switch and focused on succeeding Johnson in 1968 rather than his own re-election. Politics is timing and events.
I am troubled by factual errors that appear in the book. The number of senators is misstated. There were only 96, not 100, when Johnson was elected. The author refers to the Today Show airing the day after Kennedy's assassination. There was no Saturday Today until 1992. (Was this a post-assassination special episode?) I'm not convinced the author quite understands the premise of "Death Valley Days," which Reagan hosted for one season after years of having appeared in the anthology as an actor. The author gives undue weight to quotes attributed to Reagan during his show business days, when those quotes were probably written by publicists or someone other than Reagan.
For historical analysis of presidencies, I much prefer The Politics Presidents Make by Stephen Skowronek. That book argues a framework for analyzing presidential success and failure based on swings and movements better than does this author's focus on Johnson and Reagan. Skowronek posits the beginning of the conservative era in American politics beginning with Reagan's election in 1980 rather than Nixon's in 1968. It is also likely that readers interested in learning about either Johnson or Reagan would be better served by the many individual volumes devoted to them rather than to this book that awkwardly juxtaposes their careers.
The book is divided into three parts. Part I, Shadows, tells the story of Johnson's hasty and unexpected assumption of the Presidency following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, including his lack of consideration shown to the Kennedy family and the ongoing tensions between the old and new administrations. It tells the story of Johnson's success in bringing about the monumental civil rights legislation and other goals which had stalled under his predecessor. Part II, Choosing, describes Reagan's transition from a has-been movie actor to a viable and popular Republican political star. It is also a marvelous accounting of the social upheaval that the nation encountered during 1964, as crime, racial tensions and the seeds of the forthcoming Vietnam War were simmering. The 1964 election was the apex of Johnson's popularity, but also a time when Reagan began to gain notice for his political eloquence at a time when the right lacked a champion. In Part III, The Cost, Darman describes how it all went wrong for Johnson, as Vietnam and unrest at home changed a nation's outlook.
Darman's analysis of his subjects' rise and fall is brilliant. What I especially found compelling was his dissection of the notion that Johnson's domestic and foreign policies were separate unconnected spheres. He makes the case they the two areas were not unconnected at all, and does so brilliantly. I also appreciated his excellent character assessments of Lyndon Johnson and of Lady Bird Johnson as well, letting their words and actions speak for themselves, rather than feeding the reader some stereotypical or preconceived notions of who these people were.
Darman is very objective and approaches this controversial time in history without any apparent agenda. He succeeds in telling the reader about this fascinating period without verbosity, bias or academic overkill. He writes very well and has a natural way with words. If Jonathan Darman's first book is any indication, we can all look forward to his future literary endeavors.