Looking Back at LBJ
White House Politics in a New Light
Sales Date: June 16, 2005
312 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: June 2005
Lyndon Baines Johnson ascended to the presidency in the wake of tragedy to lead the United States through one of its most violent and divisive decades. His troubled presidency was marked by endless controversies over civil rights, the Vietnam War, foreign policy, and law-and-order issues, among others. Nearly four decades later, it’s now possible to reexamine those controversies to illuminate as never before the achievements and failures of one of the nation’s most misunderstood presidents.
Drawing upon a wealth of new sources, including recently released phone conversations, these authors shine a bright and probing light on LBJ’s beleaguered White House tenure. Collectively, they reinforce the image of Johnson as a highly complex president whose very real achievements have been overshadowed by character flaws and events well beyond his control.
Four chapters focus on LBJ’s foreign policies, including a positive appraisal of his handling of the 1964 Panama Crisis, but less favorable assessments regarding the downhill slide into Vietnam, the Six Day War, and policies toward the communist bloc. Yet the authors generally depict a president who, contrary to conventional views, did not allow his domestic agenda to overshadow his efforts as chief architect of foreign policy.
Five other chapters focus on aspects of LBJ’s domestic policies that have been largely neglected: women’s rights, Native Americans, agriculture, civil disorder, and fiscal policy. Whether responding to urban riots or balancing different versions of the 1964 Farm Bill, Johnson emerges as a president who never lost sight of the political ramifications of his actions and whose legacy is often more complicated than is usually recognized.
All of these writings attest to the complexities of Lyndon Johnson, a larger-than-life leader whose guiding principles can’t always be reduced to the catch-phrases he himself and others have employed. The new perspectives and revelations they provide point students, scholars, and presidential buffs alike toward a much more enlightened view of this fascinating figure.
"A sophisticated, readable account of a presidency crippled by an affliction largely of its own making."—Cold War History
"Lerner has brought together a diverse grouping of scholars who have mined the archives and written on previously ignored aspects of the Johnson presidency. . . . This collection offers a number of nimble writers who are at the vanguard of twentieth century American political, diplomatic, and social history."—History: Reviews of New Books
“Lerner and his collaborators probe the issues that vexed America during the Johnson years, and they provoke readers to reexamine conventional judgments of that turbulent time. A major contribution to the literature of the 1960s.”—H. W. Brands, author of The Wages of Globalism: Lyndon Johnson and the Limits of American Power
“An excellent and very readable volume. One of its strongest contributions is its integration of the Johnson tape recordings into the scholarship about LBJ’s administration. . . . A really superb work overall.”—Thomas Schwartz, author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam
“Lerner and his distinguished coauthors provide an indispensable volume with literate, well-researched and perceptive chapters about this important president and his turbulent administration.”—Lewis L. Gould, author of The Modern American Presidency
1. Introduction: Lyndon Johnson in History and Memory, Mitchell B. Lerner
2. Exception to the Rule? The Johnson Administration and the Panama Canal, Mark Atwood Lawrence
3. Lyndon Johnson and the Global Disruption of 1968, Jeremi Suri
4. An Ominous Moment: Lyndon Johnson and the Six Day War, Peter L. Hahn
5. A Question of Political Courage: Lyndon Johnson as War Leader, David L. Anderson
6. The “Long Hot Summer” and the Politics of Law and Order, Michael Flamm
7. Politics, Policy, and Presidential Power: Lyndon Johnson and the 1964 Farm Bill, Robert David Johnson
8. Lyndon Johnson and the Keynesian Revolution: The Struggle for Full Employment and Price Stability, David Shreve
9. President Lyndon Johnson and the Gendered World of National Politics, Julia Kirk Blackwelder
10. The First Citizens of America: Lyndon Johnson and American Indians, Thomas Clarkin
About the Contributors