To chronicle in definitive fashion Lyndon Johnson's long career would require many volumes. A definitive study of even so short a period as the first three turbulent years of his presidency could not be contained within the covers of a single book.
Nor have we attempted a personal biography. We have purposely omitted all but the briefest mention of his family background, his youth, and his young manhood. We scarcely touch upon the six years he served in the House of Representatives, a period deserving detailed study. We are not concerned here with his personal fortune, his private life, his living habits, or, except for its impingement on public affairs, his personality.
What we deal with in this book is the Public Person as contrasted to the Private Person. Specifically, we have attempted to show how the Public Person sought, achieved, and dispensed power, particularly after he became Senate Democratic Leader in January, 1953. This, then, is both a study of political power and a political biography.
We have counted heavily on primary source material. This being in no sense an authorized biography, we have had no privileged access to the Johnson files. Instead, we have relied on two major sources of primary material.
The first is our own personal observation as political reporters in Washington during all but a fragment of the period covered by this book. Our tenure as Capitol Hill correspondents--Evans from 1953 to 1963 and Novak from 1957 to 1963--embraces Johnson's entire tenure as Democratic Leader in the Senate. Those were the years during which we watched every maneuver of the Majority Leader with fascination and no little admiration, and talked to him regularly on the Senate floor, in his ever more splendid Senate offices, and at the LBJ Ranch in Texas, where we enjoyed the rich experience of his and Mrs. Johnson's hospitality.
Our second primary source consists of more than two hundred separate interviews we conducted from January, 1965, to the spring of