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Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,691 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
An engrossing biography of President Lyndon Johnson from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Team of Rivals

Hailed by the New York Times as “the most penetrating, fascinating political biography I have ever read,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s extraordinary and insightful book draws from meticulous research in addition to the author’s time spent working at the White House from 1
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ebook, 438 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1976)
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Susanne Hi Darcie: Maybe the person meant they had read book for the 1st time, sometimes, if one is not familiar with a subject area or author, they don't…moreHi Darcie: Maybe the person meant they had read book for the 1st time, sometimes, if one is not familiar with a subject area or author, they don't realize they are reading a new edition. It shouldn't be like that, but I get real frustrated myself, when new editions of older books come out, and somehow, the original date of publication gets obscured.

I remember that book, and it was excellent! She is a great presidential historian and author.(less)
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Lobstergirl
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the Glenn Miller Orchestra

What Doris Kearns Goodwin does well here:

1) She digs deep into LBJ's personality. She knew him professionally, working in his White House, and quotes extensively from his direct conversations with her. He wanted her assistance in writing his memoirs, a project which never got off the ground.

2) She pinpoints his skillsets, what he's good at and deficient at, and how these skillsets help or hamper him in different institutional settings. She explains how his talent in one-on-one interactions and h
...more
Alex Orr
This was Kearns' first book, and to a good extent, it shows. The writing is stiff and often very dry, with little narrative skill. Kearns' tendency towards amateur Freudian psychoanalysis also frequently comes off as cringe-worthy, even more so in an era in which most Freudian concepts have been shaken off as highly speculative nonsense. The book also gives virtually no historical context to most of the events that take place, though since it was originally published in 1977, it was probably tho ...more
Misty
Dec 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote, and you can tell. It reads a little bit like a college thesis. The attempts at psychoanalysis and the comparisons to Machiavelli kinda got on my nerves and got in the way of the storytelling for me.

She worked with LBJ in the later years of the presidency and afterward, and those were the moments that were most interesting to me. Her writing about those times is so good, and you get a real sense of the type of person he was. You can also tell th
...more
James
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At first I balked at the 22-page forward written by the author some years after publication, but as it turned out, that was by far the most interesting part of the book. This book was truly a stuggle to finish, but I persevered and after 8 weeks I got there! This was a very sanitized portrait of Lyndon Johnson, no controversy here other than what one would have heard on television during his presidency. No mention of the "Johnson Treatment," or ties to the assassination. Doris Kearns Goodwin was ...more
Steve
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
https://bestpresidentialbios.com/2017...

“Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream” is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s life of Lyndon Johnson. Published in 1976 (just three years after LBJ’s death), this was Goodwin’s first biographical work. She is now a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian who has also written about John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft.

Context is critical to understanding any author’s perspective in writing a presidentia
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Jennifer
I'd heard a few things about President Johnson before reading this book: he was brash and egotistical, he held his dogs up by the ears, and he added a lot of welfare programs during his tenure. So, I didn't know much going in, but thought it would be an entertaining read, perhaps. But, I was disappointed to find out that "brash" and "egotistical" are not exaggerations of his personality, but almost nice ways of describing an extremely self-centered, egomaniac tyrant. A lot of times his petulant ...more
Linda
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was about 12 I sent a letter to LBJ asking him to take my dog, a long-haired dachsund, so that I could get a collie. After all, he already had two dogs with floppy ears, right? I got an authentic autograph in return. Somehow that started my preoccupation with LBJ and his career.

At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was a newly commissioned play about the man - All the Way - which deals with the time between the death of JFK and the election of LBJ in his own right. It was absolutely fascinat
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Robert
I am a sucker for a good presidential bio and Kearns Goodwin's book is an exceptionally well-written, vivid, and engaging portrait of our colorful 36th president, who gave us the important legislation of his "Great Society," but ultimately tarnished his legacy and altered history forever by bogging us down in the waste of the Vietnam war. Although his legacy is now undergoing some serious rethinking by some historians (who have brought to light just how groundbreaking his Great Society legislati ...more
HR-ML
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lyndon Johnson had a well-read mother Rebekah who
taught elocution & debating and his father Sam a hard-
drinking farmer who dabbled in real estate. Money was
tight at times. Lyndon avoided certain avocations dad
thought 'sissy ' IE reading. Historian Goodwin surmised
LBJ learned from his father: doers had more worth than
thinkers. (Later in life, LBJ admitted his distrust of Eastern
intellectuals IE Harvard grads.) Sam served in the state
legislature for a time & took a strong stance again
...more
Mark T
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I was a war protester and my draft number was 33, I had no love for Lyndon Johnson during his presidency. Since then, I had come to appreciate his dramatic role in changing the face of civil rights in America. The behind the scenes look at Johnson, from his pragmatic days on Capitol Hill to his lonely decisions amid a group of "smart" advisors, was excellent.

As a side note, I spent a good portion of my business career in East Asia. You would be surprised at the number of Asians that are m
...more
Czarny Pies
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American Political History Junkies
Shelves: american-history
It is hard to believe that Doris Kearns Goodwin who would go on to have a very distinguished career as an historian could have begun her career with something as dreadful as Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. The argument that she was probably correct in all her conclusions cannot be used in her defense. Ms. Goodwin possessing a Ph.D. in government from Harvard had the professional obligation to conduct systematic research and base her conclusions on relevant evidence. She did neither.
To her
...more
Ann
Mar 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on the Lyndon Johnson presidency. Kearns Goodwin puts Johnson into the context of the rise of the modern Presidency and the structure of power inside the modern White House. She also explains why Johnson's personality and his experience as Senate majority leader contributed to his failure in international affairs and his single-minded pursuit of the Vietnam War.

For those who became active during the Civil Rights movement of the 60s and the antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, it
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Kris Wijoyo
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
buku ini baru gw dapet dari sahabat gw yang pulang dari Boston...

gw dah mulai baca nihh buku,...bagian yang paling gw suka:
"Not the Cynics," Johnson wrote in 1927,
"but the men of faith are responsible for the progress of humanity...For example, in the great struggle of the Revolution...two matchless leaders were Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. Paine was only a revolutionist and a destroyer. He had no faith to sustain him. He passed from the scene of action reviling the great Washington, pref
...more
Deanna
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received this as a pre-publication edition, from netgalley, 2015 newest edition of this book.

This was a well- written biography of a fascinating man.

Most biographies are a dry chronology of facts or an endless list of irrelevant information. This very readable biography merges the public and private life to create a greater understanding of the rise of Lyndon Johnson from the common man in Texas, to one of our greatest presidents.

I have rarely found a biography to be a "can't put it down" book
...more
Kathryn
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. Growing up, I had always had a vague notion of Lyndon Johnson being a vile person -- probably mostly because of the picking his dog up by the ears incident, with smatterings of Vietnam (which I was removed from as my parents / uncles / parent's friends were too young to be effected). Although he is revealed to be a liar and a scoundrel, the pleasure of this book is better understanding what an amazing strategist he was -- and that his strategy was often used f ...more
Lowell AfdahlRice
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as extensive or interesting as Caro's volumes, but Kearns adds her own psychological and political analyses that makes for a gripping read.
Mark Stidham
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
Friends from Austin brought my wife and I to visit the LBJ Ranch and park in Stonewall, Texas. The book was available, and I felt compelled to read it, as I have enjoyed the author, Doris Kearns Goodwin in Team of Rivals. The book was easy to read in light of the visit to the ranch; I hasten to add we were also taken to a play, "The Great Society" by Robert Schenkkan.

The author makes a solid case explaining LBJ as a product of his circumstances. Yet one might conclude that LBJ's siblings should
...more
Skip
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doris Kearns Goodwin has done an exceptional job with this historical bio of LBJ. As a young Harvard Grad student who disagreed with LBJ on many policy issues, she nontheless went to work as a White House staffer. The great writing she brought to No Ordinary Time and Team of Rivals is found again here, except this time she has actual life experience and familiarity with the main character. She details LBJ's humble origins in Texs, his father a small time politician who didn't achieve his goal of ...more
Mary
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I happen to be interested in LBJ and also find Doris Kearns Goodwin's writing enjoyable to read. What I learned from this book reinforced knowledge I already possessed about LBJ but also for me rounded out his life from a child to when he died. Chosen by LBJ when she was a student at Harvard for a Fellows Program Kearns stayed on his life helping him write his memoirs which gave her an unusual opportunity to write a book both sympathetic to and yet critical of LBJ. As a child, LBJ had a father i ...more
Mike Johnson
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just came back from a weeklong trip to Texas with My wife and a couple of friends to visit 3 presidential libraries (Bush 41, Bush 43 and Lyndon Johnson). Although all three were interesting, I found the LBJ library/museum by far the best. Not nearly as much flag waving and use of war exploits to glorify the presidents' images. We also visited the TX Book Depository where Oswald shot JFK, LBJ's family home and the TX White House where he relaxed and later died.

I've always enjoyed watching Ms G
...more
Bill Yeadon
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doris Kearns Goodwin has to be one of the most talented writers of historical books. Her Team of Rivals was made into one of the best movies on Lincoln. Of course, it helps when you have a Ph.D. in political science. I think to really understand Lyndon Johnson you may also need an advanced degree in psychology.

Having read a few of Robert Caro's biographies of Johnson I thought I had a deep insight into Johnson. But Goodwin does play the role of a psychologist in this book. Lyndon Johnson while o
...more
Casey Wheeler
I received a prepublication copy of this book (August 4, 2015) through NetGalley with the understanding that I would publish are review on my blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google + pages along with NetGalley, Amazon and Goodreads.

I requested this book because I am have read several presidential biographies, but none on Lyndon Johnson. I have also read several books by Doris Kearns Goodwin and found all of them to be well written and researched.

This was very different from other president
...more
John
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: my grandfather mallett
An interesting read, especially the earliest stuff about Johnson's ridiculous energy and ambition, and the latest stuff about Vietnam. The Vietnam stuff just becomes depressing, because Johnson was doing so many good things domestically, and he just couldn't shake this awful war that kept getting worse and worse. Like now, except not so much with the good things domestically.
It's a good lesson in the mindsets of the period too. Sometimes today it's hard to put ourselves in these people's shoes,
...more
Joe
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A meditation on the evolution of the American political system as much as an account of Johnson's life and times, Goodwin's book is a dense and daunting read. The absorbing and riveting personal narratives of Team of Rivals are somewhat missing in this earlier historical work of Goodwin's. Instead, Goodwin revisits again a much more psychological interpretation of a president, exploring his "mommy" issues and his recurring dreams.
My take aways:
Johnson was well-intentioned and by his own metrics
...more
Donald Powell
An exhaustive review of Lyndon Johnson. More than that it was a text on political science with examples from the 1930's and emphasis to about 1970. Doris Kearns Goodwin is very intelligent, very informed and has studied a great deal in great detail. The book is a masterful example of history and the study of government being melded to explain and to teach. I would recommend anyone considering public service to read this book, especially the writer's note at the end. It was first written in 1976 ...more
Michael
Anyone interested in Lyndon Johnson, or the American presidency in general, needs to read this book. Kearns-Goodwin takes readers into the world of this controversial, flawed, and often misunderstood president. A complete portrait of Lyndon Johnson is not complete without this book. Unfortunately, the author does not elaborate very much on the cultural context surrounding the years of Johnson's presidency. This is likely a result of the book originally being published in 1976 when the decade of ...more
Jennifer
LBJ was an interesting politician during one of the most interesting times in US History. LBJ accomplished many admirable goals and had many dismal failures during his tenure in Washington. This books offers a fairly intimate view of LBJ and what led to some of his actions. I can appreciate it for that.

It could have been better.
Doris Kearns Goodwin took someone, who is well known for being an outright son-of-a-bitch, and tried to make him look an ambitious, jolly fellow with a boatload of mommy
...more
Bob
Summary: A biography of the 36th president exploring his ambitions, political skills, and vision, shaped by his family and upbringing, and marred by Vietnam, written from the unique perspective of a White House Fellowship and post-presidential interviews.

This month, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's latest book,  Leadership in Turbulent Times, will hit the bookstores. The book explores lessons learned from her biographies of four presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosev
...more
Roger
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed with this book. Contrasting this work with the Michael Caro books, she does not go into great depth of the forces surrounding Johnson and the men who helped shaped his life an views. Dois Kearns had unprecedented access to him as a former aide. Where Michael Caro ends with Lyndon Johnson becoming vice president, the author really starts with the VP years leading up to the Presidency. Good overall work but not with the depth of Michael Caro. This was surprising to me as I have ...more
Willis
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Doris Goodwin's books. My favorite is "Team of Rivals" that she wrote. This is one of her earlier books and is more of an "official biography". She was asked to write this and had a lot of time with Lyndon Johnson during the last few years of his life. He is a tough subject to write about, because of his tendency to exaggerate and tell stories he absolutely believed in, but weren't true. So the bulk of the book focuses on his career in the Senate and as President, with very little about h ...more
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DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN’s interest in leadership began more than half a century ago as a professor at Harvard. Her experiences working for LBJ in the White House and later assisting him on his memoirs led to her bestselling "Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream." She followed up with the Pulitzer Prize–winning "No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II." She ...more

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“defiant of” 0 likes
“Johnson saw preoccupation with principle and procedure as a sign of impotence. Such men were “troublemakers,” more concerned with appearing forceful than in exercising the real strengths that led to tangible achievement.” 0 likes
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