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Kennedy/Johnson reading list

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Jones, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I was wondering if some of the board's resident presidential historians (Lee Jackson, I'm looking at you) could offer up a definitive reading list on Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and their relationship and the transition of power between them. A little Jackie O action on the side -- hey-YO! -- wouldn't hurt.

    I'd really like to get my hands on everything I can -- this is for a big project for me -- and it's virgin territory. Old, new, I'll find it and read it. I've started with Death of a President by William Manchester. I have read nothing else, so please, be generous in your lists.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Hmm, if you want to get an idea of the Vietnam situation that LBJ inherited from JFK, you could check out George Herring's "America's Longest War." It's basically an overview of the Vietnam period (one of the standards), but it does a really good job delineating the policies of the different presidents. It also sheds a bit of light onto the pressure that LBJ felt after succeeding JFK.
  3. Cape_Fear

    Cape_Fear Active Member

    It's been a while since I've read it but Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" deals with the mating, for lack of a better word, of the two for the VP selection. The fourth volume of his LBJ biography is not out yet.

    Robert Dallek's "Flawed Giant," the second of his two-part biography, deals with LBJ from 1961 to his death.
  4. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    The Robert Caro books are the definitive (and exhaustively researched) Johnson books.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Manchester's a little tough since it's going to be slanted toward Kennedy for obvious reasons. Caro is thorough with LBJ, but I still don't think he cared for the guy very much.
  6. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    Jones --

    Postcolonial America and the early national period is way more my domain, but I've pimped Robert Dallek's "An Unfinished Life" here and elsewhere. Even-handed, not marred by a partisan telling (like so many books about LBJ and the Kennedys). "Mutual Contempt" (forget the author's name) is about the acrimony between LBJ and RFK, which is almost more emblematic than the fractiousness with JFK. There was a good discussion of Caro on the books thread. His project (well-cooked result of sifting through hundreds of thousands of documents) is the best on an American president since Dumas Malone's Jefferson series. The book on the presidency is not complete, but the preceding volumes really light the way.

    Pope and Birdscribe can easily add to this list. And certainly the Bastard. Good luck.
  7. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest


    Clarke spent a great deal of time examining the RFK-LBJ relationship prior to and after the assassination of JFK. It is a wonderful read.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  8. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Caro is great, but it seems that Jones may be looking for something more specific...that's not to say that Caro won't be useful, because he will, but there will of course be much of Caro that Jones won't necessarily need to concern himself with.
  9. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    Caro's not as dense as some of the others. Thought of another one. Kearns Goodwin -- folksy and intimate, gleaned from personal experience. She brought out the good in LBJ.
  10. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

  11. "White House Ghosts: President's and Their Speechwriters" has a couple chapters on Kennedy and Johnson, and how Johnson felt trying to step into Kennedy's shoes, specifically when speaking. Really interesting book in general.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I just got 1960 by David Pietrusza - it is supposed to be a pretty good look at JFK, LBJ and Nixon in 1960.
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