LBJ: Architect of American Ambition

LBJ Architect of American Ambition For almost forty years the verdict on Lyndon Johnson s presidency has been reduced to a handful of harsh words tragedy betrayal lost opportunity Initially historians focused on the Vietnam War and

  • Title: LBJ: Architect of American Ambition
  • Author: Randall B. Woods
  • ISBN: 9780684834580
  • Page: 418
  • Format: Hardcover
  • For almost forty years, the verdict on Lyndon Johnson s presidency has been reduced to a handful of harsh words tragedy, betrayal, lost opportunity Initially, historians focused on the Vietnam War and how that conflict derailed liberalism, tarnished the nation s reputation, wasted lives, and eventually even led to Watergate More recently, Johnson has been excoriated inFor almost forty years, the verdict on Lyndon Johnson s presidency has been reduced to a handful of harsh words tragedy, betrayal, lost opportunity Initially, historians focused on the Vietnam War and how that conflict derailed liberalism, tarnished the nation s reputation, wasted lives, and eventually even led to Watergate More recently, Johnson has been excoriated in personal terms as a player of political hardball, as the product of machine style corruption, as an opportunist, as a cruel husband and boss.In LBJ, Randall B Woods, a distinguished historian of twentieth century America and a son of Texas, offers a wholesale reappraisal and sweeping, authoritative account of the LBJ who has been lost under this baleful gaze Woods understands the political landscape of the American South and the differences between personal failings and political principles Thanks to the release of thousands of hours of LBJ s White House tapes, along with the declassification of tens of thousands of documents and interviews with key aides, Woods s LBJ brings crucial new evidence to bear on many key aspects of the man and the politician As private conversations reveal, Johnson intentionally exaggerated his stereotype in many interviews, for reasons of both tactics and contempt It is time to set the record straight.Woods s Johnson is a flawed but deeply sympathetic character He was born into a family with a liberal Texas tradition of public service and a strong belief in the public good He worked tirelessly, but not just for the sake of ambition His approach to reform at home, and to fighting fascism and communism abroad, was motivated by the same ideals and based on a liberal Christian tradition that is often forgotten today Vietnam turned into a tragedy, but it was part and parcel of Johnson s commitment to civil rights and antipoverty reforms LBJ offers a fascinating new history of the political upheavals of the 1960s and a new way to understand the last great burst of liberalism in America.Johnson was a magnetic character, and his life was filled with fascinating stories and scenes Through insights gained from interviews with his longtime secretary, his Secret Service detail, and his closest aides and confidants, Woods brings Johnson before us in vivid and unforgettable color.

    One thought on “LBJ: Architect of American Ambition”

    1. I rather suspect that I'm in a small minority over this given what he did during the Vietnam War, but I've always found LBJ an appealing president, because of his work on Civil Rights and the Great Society.This book, at almost 900 pages, is probably as detailed a one book examination of LBJ's life as we're likely to get. Of those pages, about 50% of the book focuses on the Vice-Presidency and Presidency, 30% on his work as a Congressman, Senator and Government Representative, and about 20% focus [...]

    2. I admit it. I am and have been an admirer of LBJ's for decades, and this biography is one of the most even-handed books on this giant of a man that I have read. Of course, it reveals his flaws, which were notorious. More importantly it reveals his surpassing compassion for the old, the weak, the oppressed, the poor. Hillary's right - without LBJ there would have been no Civil Rights Act of 1964, to which the Kennedy's lent only half-hearted support - because they had no feeling, besides contempt [...]

    3. Very informative and detailed biography. As I was a college student during most of LBJ's presidency while looking down the barrel of the draft, I had assumed that I knew most of the details of the period. The biggest surprise was to find that in the fall of 1968 Richard Nixon secretly communicated with South Vietnam's Ky and Thieu to thwart any peace proposals pending with North Vietnam so as to assure his election. Since the damning information had come from illegal wiretaps, and because LBJ wa [...]

    4. The most balanced biography I've read on Johnson. Acknowledged his shortcomings but gave due credit to progressive things he accomplished. Interesting contrast to Caro's series especially the 1948 senate election where Caro painted LBJ to be villian and Coke Stevenson to be hero. While Caro mentioned/glossed over some of Stevenson's background, Woods made it clear how Stevenson fired some university officials for being "too liberal" Stevenson's attitudes towards unions and his record on race and [...]

    5. While this book was long and certainly not light reading, I did really enjoy learning about this segment of history. I have filled my to read list with much related material, which I always find as a mark of a good book. Highly recommended to history buffs, Texas Historians, or anyone who thinks they might be interested in learning about Lyndon B. Johnson. Fascinating.

    6. Lyndon Johnson should be remembered today as the greatest president of the 20th century. He outdid his mentor - Franklin Roosevelt - with the plethora of legislation that collectively became known as 'The Great Society'. He used the martyrdom of his predecessor to push through the most sweeping civil rights legislation in American history. He wrote the book on federal aid to education, consumer protection laws, Medicaidd that was just in his first two years.That, however, is the problem. Had Joh [...]

    7. I have been reading this biography over a period of eleven days. Nine hundred pages, a long hard climb up the American political landscape of the twentieth century, that culminates in the rarefied summit of power and a thirty sixth presidency. It is no easy task for me (a subject of her majesty the Queen) to adequately review this book, steeped as it is in the political machinations of Uncle Sam. GOP is an acronym I would link with Gallup Opinion Poll, not the Grand Ole Party. While on the subje [...]

    8. I enjoyed this book a great deal. LBJ was a rough sort of mant someone I'd hold on a pedistal. But in reading this book I learned that he was extremely motivated to achieve success and became a remarkably adept politician. Having grown up, but being young at the time, when he became vice president, running with John F. Kennedy, I realized just how much I did not know or remember about the many events that were happening around me. I had an awareness of the tension between the US and the USSR ove [...]

    9. This is a stupendous biography of LBJ, a guy I thought I knew, but I knew nothing - and neither do you if you haven't read this book. This has got to be the definitive Lyndon Johnson bio; it's certainly big enough to be. If you thought FDR was the most radical of our presidents (plausible) or that Barack Obama is (ridiculous), you really need to read this book. I can't think of anyone outside of the Communist Party who was more courageously outspoken (and in a very inhospitable part of the count [...]

    10. Woods takes us from LBJ’s grandfather to his Lyndon’s deathbed. In between there was a lot of women (not his wife), drinking, socialism, bullying, pushing and clawing. Woods did not stint on his research (80 pages of footnotes) and creates a broad and deep portrait of a life. I suspect, Woods, like many biographers, has fallen in love with his subject. This is understandable, after all, who want to spend so much time with someone he doesn’t like. The result is that Woods is largely uncriti [...]

    11. This is a great biography of Lyndon Johnson. I'd say LBJ is both one of our best presidents and one of our worst. His record of passing legislation is second only perhaps to his hero FDR and I especially admire his ramming the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills through congress in '64 and '65 which he could have opted to water down. He took the risk of losing the entire Democratic South in the election of 1964 for this stand.On the other hand, LBJ is more responsible than JFK or Nixon for the [...]

    12. Whether it's the powerful complexities of his character or the eventful nature of his presidency Lyndon Johnson has not wanted for biographers. In this respect Randall Woods is to be commended for fitting into one volume what has taken authors like Robert Caro and Robert Dallek several. Yet while I found Woods's analysis of Johnson interesting, I was put off by what seemed an egregious amount of minor factual errors in his book. It's possible that such errors exist in most such books and only ap [...]

    13. Almost no President has a legacy harder to encapsulate then Lyndon Johnson, and as long as baby boomers dominate political culture, fights over his legacy will remain central to our electoral discourse. As a political history nerd, I have read far more about his Presidency than is prudent or wise. Yet, even I have to wonder why this book was written. After Dallek and Caro (let alone Perlstien and the rest), it’s not really clear why this generation needs another standard popular biography of L [...]

    14. Good but overly long. I appreciated learning that Johnson had a life long interest in education and that despite any racism associated with his time and place of birth, he still treated people of color with enough dignity as to work with Dr. King to pass legislation for the civil rights.It is sad that relations between JFK and LBJ were not close enough to have prevented an escalation of our involvement in Vietnam. Had he not heeded the Hawks or perhaps if he'd not feared the consequences of figh [...]

    15. An interesting analysis, though it does not have the sheer amount of detail that Robert Caro's LBJ volumes do. the description of the presidency will have to tide us over until Caro finishes volume IV of his exhaustive LBJ series.One major quibble--Woods gets a lot of facts wrong, for example, the sequence of gunshots when Kennedy is assasinated, the color of his wife's bloodstained dress and the home states of some very important senators. For that reason, I had to dock this book one star.

    16. Very thorough. It lost some credibility for me by having some factual errors --- the wrong person attributed to the wrong quote, or the wrong date. But, overall, very well done, and it made me reappreciate LBJ as a president who wanted to change things, to be a transformational leader.

    17. yeah, im actually in shock how much i like this book so far. picked it up from the library in a rush, and kinda in awe. lbj is a president i knew little about however, his policy is still impactful.

    18. An excellent biography. I have more respoect for LBJ as a man and as a politician after reading this book.

    19. I'm particularly interested in seeing what Woods has to say about the roles LBJ's hardball political tactics played in regard to civil rights and his Great Society programs.

    20. I had to change my opinion of LBJ after reading this bio (for the better) his contradictions are still a puzzle but a little less of a mystery.

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