Lady Bird Johnson and the Environment
With a New Preface by the Author
Lewis L. Gould
In the 1960s Lady Bird Johnson sought to improve the natural appearance of Washington, D.C., to make the nation’s highways less cluttered with billboards and junkyards, and to advance the environmental agenda of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. The popular understanding of what she did remains incomplete, and her role as a woman conservationist has not been well understood. In this, the first book to example her accomplishments as First Lady, Lewis Gould shows Lady Bird Johnson as a catalyst for environmental ideas and as a powerful and persuasive force within her husband’s administration.
Although passage of the Highway Beautification Act in 1965 was the legislative apex of her efforts, Lady Bird Johnson also articulated a wide range of conservation issues, framing policy initiatives and focusing public opinion. She instilled conservation and ecological ideas in the national mind, Gould argues, with a skill and adroitness that puts Mrs. Johnson in the front rank among modern First Ladies. Indeed, in his view, only Eleanor Roosevelt surpasses her in importance.
“Gould has written an important volume about a key figure in a movement which, if we are to survive as a civilized people, mush become a dominant theme in American life.”
—Western Historical Quarterly
“Gould’s impressive scholarship has resulted in a book that gives recognition to an energetic first lady, who, like a contingent of women before her, knew that clean-up efforts built better communities.”
—Journal of Southern HistorySee all reviews...
“Gould examines his subject through a feminist lens, recognizing the constraints suffered by presidential wives and all women and validating the particularly female concerns and values that women often brought to public life.”
—Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Gould offers a balanced and attentive account of one prominent woman's efforts and achievements while also acknowledging the gender-coded context in which they were staged.”
—New Mexico Historical Review
“Impressive scholarship [and] a well-written book. . . . Environmental historians will welcome the study, especially as it sheds light on the development of environmental consciousness in the 1960s, readers interested in the presidency will appreciate the detailed treatment given a First Lady, and the many general readers will enjoy the insights Gould brings to understanding Lady Bird Johnson herself.”
—Martin V. Melosi, author of The Sanitary City: Environmental Services in Urban America from Colonial Times to the Present
“Gould does a fine job of treating Lady Bird Johnson as a person in her own right and as a major figure involved in securing both funds and legislation for projects that have truly made a difference in the quality of the environment. . . . This is a story that merits publication [and] offers convincing evidence of Lady Bird Johnson’s sincere and spirited commitment and of her role in beautifying the environment.”
—Joanna Schneider Zangrando, Skidmore CollegeSee fewer reviews...
This book is the result of Gould’s extensive research in the LBJ Library and draws on his interviews with such key figures as Interior Secretary Steward Udall, Press Secretary Liz Carpenter, District of Columbia Mayor Walter Washington, and Lady Bird Johnson herself.