Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

Introduction
LBJ in History

LYNDON Johnson, the dominant political figure of the sixties who challenged us to wipe out poverty, end racial segregation, and win a morally confusing war in a remote place, has receded from our minds. Where biographical studies of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Nixon abound, Johnson is something of an unloved orphan. Twenty-two years after he left the White House, christened a magnificent eleven-story presidential library, and ordered the opening of thirty-two million pages of material housed there, no historian had published a major research study of his life and two journalists promising to do so had vilified him in books that only came up to the fifties, the years of his Senate career. 1

The paucity of work alongside of other presidential biographies partly reflects the public's current low esteem for Johnson. A November 1988 Louis Harris poll on presidential performance from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan consistently ranked Johnson near or at the bottom of eleven categories. Asked which of these Presidents made people feel proudest of being an American, most inspired confidence in the White House, and could be trusted most in a crisis, respondents consistently put LBJ last along side of Gerald Ford and behind Richard Nixon. Who will history view as the best among these Presidents? Only 1 percent chose Johnson. The President best able to get things done? Three percent said Johnson, 1 percent more than said Jimmy Carter and 2 percent more than said Ford. And the President setting the highest moral standards? JFK, Reagan, and Carter, in that order, led the list. Johnson stood alone in last place, chosen by only 1 percent of the sample. Even Richard Nixon fared better with 2 percent of the vote. 2

One biographer and historian has puzzled over the popular appeal of

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Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction LBJ in History 3
  • Part One - The Making of a Politician 1908-1937 11
  • 1 - The Heritage 13
  • 2 - Childhood 31
  • 3 - Student and Teacher 62
  • 4 - Kleberg's Secretary 93
  • 5 - The Making of a Congressman 125
  • Part Two - The Congressman 1937-1948 157
  • 6 - The New Dealer 159
  • 7 - National Politics 185
  • 8 - Politics, Patriotism, and Personal Gain 225
  • 9 - The Liberal as Conservative 268
  • 10 - Texas Elects a Senator 298
  • Part Three - The Senator 1949-1954 349
  • 11 - The Best Possible Senator for . . . Texas 351
  • 12 - For Country, Party, and Self 392
  • 13 - Bipartisan Politics 426
  • Part Four - The Majority Leader 1955-1960 465
  • 14 - The Making of a Majority Leader 467
  • 15 - The Liberal Nationalist 509
  • 16 - The Making of a Vice President 544
  • Sources 593
  • Abbreviations in the Notes 611
  • Notes 613
  • Index 701
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