cover image Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America

Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America

Jonathan Darman. Random House, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6708-4

Former Newsweek political reporter 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. In this smart and perceptive narrative, Darman discusses the contrasts between the two Americas they envisioned%E2%80%94more specifically, the disparities between LBJ's liberal Great Society policies and Reagan's hardline conservative agenda. Both driven and ambitious, Johnson, the down-to-earth Texas cowboy and career politician, and Reagan, "the Errol Flynn of the B-movies" and rising Goldwater heir, zigzagged their respective ways to the White House, overcoming personal setbacks, political ambushes, and intraparty conflict along the way. On the one hand, LBJ championed the poor and civil rights, yet his hugely popular regime was leveled by the Vietnam War's economic and military burden. On the other, Reagan's amiable right-wing chatter made him the darling first of Californians and later of the entire country, yet critics panned him for his lackluster Tinseltown history. 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. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Oct.)