Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973

Robert Dallek, Author, Robert Dallek, Preface by Oxford University Press $99 (754p) ISBN 978-0-19-505465-1
In his sequel to Lone Star Rising, Lyndon Johnson & His Times, 1908-1960, Boston University historian Dallek draws from recently released presidential papers and transcripts, as well as interviews with Johnson proteges such as Bill Moyers, to vividly depict LBJ's tumultuous years as vice-president and president. If not as engaging or evocative as other biographers, Dallek is always objective, chasing the facts whether they lead to the detriment or to the advantage of his troubled protagonist. The book is particularly strong in juxtaposing the magisterial, single-handed architect of sweeping domestic reform in the Great Society with the public-school-educated, provincial legislator from the Texas hill country who felt inadequate when it came to matters of international relations. As Dallek shows, Johnson yielded too often (sometimes against his better instincts, almost always against his own best interests) to Ivy-educated advisers on such problems as Vietnam. Then we have Johnson's private war with Bobby Kennedy, of whom he said: ""[Bobby] skipped the grades where you learn the rules of life. He never liked me, and that's nothing compared to what I think of him."" All told, Flawed Giant provides a complex yet elegantly rendered portrait of Lyndon Johnson as vice-president, president and man. 32 halftones not seen by PW. $50,000 ad/promo; cover feature in Atlantic Monthly; History Book Club and BOMC alternates; 6-city author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/13/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
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