Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years

Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years

Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years

Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years

Synopsis

The sixties began optimistically, with Americans full of hope and expectation, voting to support a new, young, charismatic leader who promised to "move America forward." Tragically, something went wrong. Instead of finding its Utopia, America became a country struggling desperately to escape its Armageddon. President Kennedy's New Frontier fell far short of its promise in tangible domestic legislation and his foreign policy decisions pushed the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust, while President Johnson's dream of a Great Society foundered in the quicksand of the Vietnam war. This revealing history of the Kennedy-Johnson years begins with the presidential primaries of 1960 and concludes with Johnson's final weeks as a lame duck President. An expert and objective history of an exciting period -- its social, cultural, and economic facets as well as its political developments.

Excerpt

"How come we never get past World War II?" Teachers of United States history must hear that refrain a hundred times a year, and in all too many cases the complaint is valid. Having lived through the 1950s and 60s, many of us find it hard to think of those years as textbook-type history, and we have often failed to take the time to sit back and make the historical judgments that must precede any attempt to teach about those years. An even greater problem is posed by the scarcity of solid, fully researched syntheses dealing with the more immediate past. That gap is precisely what the series America since World War II is designed to fill.

Some will quarrel with the decision to construct the series along the traditional lines of presidential administrations. Granted, such an organization does tend to disguise the broader social, political, and economic trends which developed and/or continued after 1945 without regard for what Winston Churchill called America's "quadrennial madness." Yet, in each volume, the authors have consciously examined such trends and, when read as a whole, the series provides an overview of the entire postwar period. Periodization is not only a useful teaching device, but has a validity all its own. As will quickly become clear to the reader, each of these administrations possessed a personality that, while reflecting the broader ideals and attitudes of the American nation, nonetheless remained unique and identifiable. Nor have the authors merely summarized the political history of the period. Rather, each has carefully examined the cultural, social, and economic history which make an era much more than just dates and names.

The series provides, in relatively brief and readable fashion, a synthesis for use by teachers and students studying American history since the Second World War. In keeping with that purpose, the decision was made to dispense with all but a few necessary informational footnotes. Much more than a mere survey, each . . .

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