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Lone Star Rising: Vol. 1: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195054354
ISBN-10: 0195054350
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dallek sums up his subject, the 36th U.S. president, in this generous and touching sentence: "If Lyndon Johnson demanded much and took much, he also gave much in return." In the initial book of this two-volume biography, Dallek ( Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 ) reconstructs Johnson's Texas childhood, his 1937 election to the House, his war experiences as a Navy officer, election to the Senate in '49, his years as "the greatest Senate majority leader in history," and finally his selection as John Kennedy's running mate in 1960. LBJ as wheeler-dealer is already a familiar figure, but Dallek, tracing the origin of the War on Poverty and the Great Society to Johnson's experiences and observations as a young man, reveals that much of the wheeling and dealing was an expression of Johnson's genuine interest in helping the disadvantaged. One of our least-admired presidents, Johnson (1908-1973) has been portrayed in recent years by Robert Caro and others as a monster of ambition, greed and cruelty. Dallek's LBJ is a somewhat more complicated, contradictory and sympathetic character, "struggling with inner demons that drove and tormented him." Photos. 50,000 first printing; $60,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Dallek, a historian best known for his studies of American foreign policy, has taken on Robert Caro's formidable work ( The Years of Lyndon Johnson , Vol. 1: The Path to Power , LJ 12/15/82; Vol. 2: Means of Ascent , LJ 4/15/90) with this solid biography. Like Caro's, this is a work in progress--the first of two volumes. However, Dallek offers a more focused, balanced, and traditional view of Johnson, and his work may emerge as the standard LBJ biography after the controversy over Caro's approach has waned. Dallek acknowledges and documents Johnson's darker, "self-serving impulses" but also emphasizes his deep "concern for the national well-being." From this perspective, his view of LBJ is similar to that of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream ( LJ 6/1/76). Dallek, however, has had greater access to papers in the LBJ Library, supplemented by at least 100 other manuscript collections and oral histories. His work is the product of seven years of careful research, and the concluding volume will be eagerly awaited. Highly recommended for academic and most public libraries.
- Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lone Star Rising
  • Hardcover: 721 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (August 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195054350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195054354
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 2.3 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. P Spencer on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dallek's biography has the virtue of being written by someone who clearly admires Johnson. As such, it is somewhat of a counterweight to Robert Caro and I suggest both be read for balance.
Nevertheless, in presenting the "good Lyndon", Dallek downplays the worst of Johnson. There is nothing particularly wrong with this (Dallek certainly doesn't ignore the flaws, just tends to gloss over them a little), but it does lead to a fairly tepid book, one that is nowhere near as much fun to read as Caro's. Thus, if I could only read one (which of course many readers will do considering the length of both Caro's and Dallek's presentations), I would read Caro's. Caro's second and third volumes (covering the 40's and 50's, roughly the second half of the Dallek volume being discussed here) are possibly the best political biography ever written. It is against that "competition" that Dallek's book must be weighed and I found, in the balance, that Dallek's work is merely ordinary.
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Format: Paperback
Dallek's two-volume examination of LBJ is a dramatic and nuanced examination of one the most complex figures in 20th century American history. Even almost three decades after his death, there are no shortage of people who see LBJ as the ultimate villan of American politics. Many people of this camp dislike Dallek's work, because he puts his subject in his context.
While Dallek does not excuse the sort of election fraud in which LBJ engaged, he does explain that it was wide spread. Some find this an unacceptable defense, but one should note that the sorts of tricks he describes have been wide spread in the US for most of the 19th and early 20th century. To dismiss LBJ for engaging in such activities who require similar condemnation of every US president from Adams to FDR.
Dallek in fact, is unflinching in discussing LBJ's negative side. His pension for strong arming opponents, his abuse of his staff, his womanizing and drinking, and his dirty tricks are all layed bare. At the same time, Dallek reviews how crucial LBJ was as part of the New Deal and his brave role as a champion of civil rights.
The other major LBJ biography by Caro is far less balanced in its approach to this complex and ultimately tragic figure. For a truly great and complete biography of LBJ, I suggest that you read this one.
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Format: Paperback
For the foreseeable future, I think it's safe to say Dallek's two volumes will be the definitive LBJ biography for the simple reason(s) that it's unclear if Caro will finish his works and it is doubtful that anyone will soon take on the onerous task of researching Johnson's extremely complicated life ... and find anything new. This volume tracks LBJ's life up to the 1960 election and everything is here ... and I mean everything, from Johnson's lineage, his childhood and education, his work as a New Deal caretaker and Texas politician, his dubious "military service", his meteoric climb through both the House and US Senate, including his "election" to the latter and finally his acceptance as JFK's vice-presidential running mate. The reader meets the big (and small) personalities in LBJ's life including FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Sam Rayburn, Richard Russell and Hubert Humphrey as well as the truly dedicated people who worked ungodly hours for him. Dallek also does an admirable job in tracking the development of LBJ's character and motives, (and ego) while parsing through, at times, the frenetic activity of his life. Where this biography differs from others, (especially Caro's), is in Dallek's self-restraint in judging LBJ's actions and behaviors, (and there is a lot to judge). Others have made this out to be an omission on the author's part, I would beg to differ and label it as evenhanded. Dallek presents the facts and lets the reader make the call while other authors, (again Caro), have stepped into the breech and passed judgement. (This doesn't mean I disagree with those judgements, in fact in most cases I do agree. It's hard not to.) I just appreciated Dallek allowing me to come to my own conclusions.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Over the last several years, I've read more than 30 presidential biographies, usually letting Amazon reader's guide me to the best choice. I assure you Robert Dallek's first volume of his LBJ biography is one of the top five or six biographies I've read thus far. This volume provides the details of LBJ's life until he became vice president. Lone Star Rising is well written. Most of all it is balanced presenting numerous sides of a very complex man. Also included are the anecdotes of LBJ's life that led me to laugh out loud or shake my head with disbelief.

Lilly Tomlin once said, "I try to be as cynical as I can be, but sometimes I just can't keep up. " She could have been talking about Southern politics in general or LBJ in particular. Dallek shows LBJ's warts, but he also describes Johnson's genuine desire to help the poor and the South.

LBJ rose from poverty through a combination of incredible drive, unbelievable moxie, a willingness to do anything to win, a refusal to admit defeat, and a sense that the world was his stage with all of the characters being actors for him to manipulate, bamboozle, and control. These traits helped LBJ reach the presidency, but they also led to a stubborn refusal to get out of Viet Nam (see volume 2).

I truly wish every president could have a biographer as skilled as Dallek. Finally, I'd like to stress the 1200 or so pages of the two vlumes are worth the effort. While the second volume gets bogged down covering our bogged down war in Viet Nam, I would not have wanted to skip over a page of volume 1
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