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Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times,…
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Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973

by Robert Dallek

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262269,285 (3.68)2
Lone Star Rising, the first volume in Robert Dallek's biography of LBJ, was hailed as "a triumphant portrait of Lyndon Johnson as rich and oversized and complex as the nation that shaped him." Now, in the final volume, Dallek takes us through Johnson's tumultuous years in the White House, hisunprecedented accomplishments there, and the tragic war that would be his downfall. In these pages Johnson emerges as a character of almost Shakespearean dimensions, a man riddled with contradictions, a man of towering intensity and anguished insecurity, of grandiose ambition and grave self-doubt, a man who was brilliant, crude, intimidating, compassionate, overbearing,driven: "A tornado in pants." Drawing on hundreds of newly released tapes and extensive interviews with those closest to LBJ--including fresh insights from Ladybird and his press secretary Bill Moyers--Dallek takes us behind the scenes to give us a portrait of Johnson that is at once even-handedand completely engrossing. We see Johnson as the visionary leader who worked his will on Congress like no president before or since, enacting a range of crucial legislation, from Medicare, environmental protection, and the establishment of the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities to themost significant advances in civil rights for black Americans ever achieved. And we see for the first time the depth of Johnson's private anguish as he became increasingly ensnared in Vietnam, a war he did not want to expand and which destroyed his hopes for The Great Society and a second term. Exhaustively researched and gracefully written, Flawed Giant reveals both the greatness and the tangled complexities of one of the most extravagant characters ever to step onto the presidential stage.… (more)

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I found this very easy to read. It provides a good history of the Johnson administration and covers a good deal more than policy making on Vietnam - the reason why I was initially interested. Details about the space programme, civil rights legislation and LBJ's relationship with his peers (particularly RFK) are some of the other areas that I enjoyed.

It is said that biographies often have the tendency to either canonise or vilify the subject, but this does neither and appears to be largely objective. It is essentially a political history of the administration with LBJ as the focus.

Read if you seek a better understanding of this fascinating period in US history or the decision making process during the early part of the Vietnam war. ( )
  cwhouston | Nov 20, 2010 |
Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times 1961-1973, by Robert Dallek (read 18 Jun 1998) This is Volume Two of Dallek's two-volume biography. This is an excellent book, though it is not fun to relive the Vietnam era. I certainly can see why I thought as I did during the Vietnam times of LBJ. It is easy now to condemn our being there so long, but it was quagmire and the people for pulling out were few and not attractive. Johnson of course had flaws but I do not reproach myself for supporting him in those tumultuous years. Some of the account as to domestic events in these years was not overly interesting, but the book tells the whole period well, and I think it is a good book. ( )
  Schmerguls | Dec 17, 2007 |
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