Lone Star Rising: Vol. 1: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960

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9780195079043: Lone Star Rising: Vol. 1: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960

Like other great figures of 20th-century American politics, Lyndon Johnson defies easy understanding. An unrivaled master of vote swapping, back room deals, and election-day skulduggery, he was nevertheless an outspoken New Dealer with a genuine commitment to the poor and the underprivileged. With aides and colleagues he could be overbearing, crude, and vindictive, but at other times shy, sophisticated, and magnanimous. Perhaps columnist Russell Baker said it best: Johnson "was a character out of a Russian novel...a storm of warring human instincts: sinner and saint, buffoon and statesman, cynic and sentimentalist."
But Johnson was also a representative figure. His career speaks volumes about American politics, foreign policy, and business in the forty years after 1930. As Charles de Gaulle said when he came to JFK's funeral: Kennedy was America's mask, but this man Johnson is the country's real face.
In Lone Star Rising, Robert Dallek, winner of the prestigious Bancroft Prize for his study of Franklin D. Roosevelt, now turns to this fascinating "sinner and saint" to offer a brilliant, definitive portrait of a great American politician. Based on seven years of research in over 450 manuscript collections and oral histories, as well as numerous personal interviews, this first book in a two-volume biography follows Johnson's life from his childhood on the banks of the Pedernales to his election as vice-president under Kennedy. We see Johnson, the twenty-three-year-old aide to a pampered millionaire Representative, become a de facto Congressman, and at age twenty-eight the country's best state director of the National Youth Administration. We see Johnson, the "human dynamo," first in the House and then in the Senate, whirl his way through sixteen- and eighteen-hour days, talking, urging, demanding, reaching for influence and power, in an uncommonly successful congressional career.
Dallek pays full due to Johnson's failings--his obsession with being top dog, his willingness to cut corners, and worse, to get there-- but he also illuminates Johnson's sheer brilliance as a politician, the high regard in which key members of the New Deal, including FDR, held him, and his genuine concern for minorities and the downtrodden.
No president in American history is currently less admired than Lyndon Johnson. Bitter memories of Vietnam have sent Johnson's reputation into free fall, and recent biographies have painted him as a scoundrel who did more harm than good. Lone Star Rising attempts to strike a balance. It does not neglect the tawdry side of Johnson's political career, including much that is revealed for the first time. But it also reminds us that Lyndon Johnson was a man of exceptional vision, who from early in his career worked to bring the South into the mainstream of American economic and political life, to give the disadvantaged a decent chance, and to end racial segregation for the well-being of the nation.

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About the Author:


Robert Dallek is Professor of History of the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, for which he won a Bancroft Prize and was nominated for an American Book Award.

Review:

"Fascinating book--a very detailed, authoritative, and definitive account of the pre-Presidential days of an imposing historical figure. Should be 'must' reading by anyone interested in one of our country's most pwerful people."--Robert W. Langran, Villanova University

"A triumphant portrait....It should stand for years to come as the most rounded portrait we have of this compelling, formidable, flawed giant....Biography in the grand style. As rich and oversized and complex as the nation that shaped him."--Doris Kearns Goodwin

"Succeeds brilliantly....Robert Dallek's book stands in the trdition of Stephen Ambrose's Eisenhower--lives of American presidents viewed preeminently in the context of larger historical structures and themes....Dallek has achieved the goal, suggested in his intorduction, of producing wht
should stand for a long time as the best scholarly life of Lyndon Johnson."--Michael R. Beschloss, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An excellent biography....Provides the reader with fascinating glimpses of Johnson's energy, his insecurities, his ability to nurture political relationships with older men who could help his career...and his determination to excel and dominate. No one will ever be bored reading this
book....Helps us to understand the historical significance of Johnson's life and achievement."--John W. Sloan, The Houston Chronicle

"Immensely readable....Promises to be the most lucid and levelheaded look at this great and contrary figure that we are likely to have for long time."--Malcolm Jones, Jr., Newsweek

"Dense with astonishing incidents....Dallek's book is thoroughly reliable and comprehensive."--Sidney Blumenthal, The Boston Globe

"Masterly...illumines both the excellencies and the malignancies of Johnson's often baffling character [and] the political and social landscape across which he so massively moved."--David M. Kennedy, The Atlantic Monthly

"Invaluable....The first full-blown and accurate account."--John B. Judis, The Washington Post Book World

"Rock-solid."--Nicholas Lemann, The New York Times Book Review

"A triumphant portrait of Lyndon Johnson as rich and oversized and complex as the nation that shaped him. It should stand for years to come as the most rounded portrait we have of this compelling, formidable, flawed giant. This is biography in the grand style."--Doris Kearns Goodwin. "Dallek
offers a more focused, balanced, and traditional view of Johnson [than Caro], and his work may emerge as the standard LBJ biography....His work is the product of seven years of careful research, and the concluding volume will be eagerly awaited."--Library Journal

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