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Lyndon B. Johnson

(The American Presidents #36)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  174 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The towering figure who sought to transform America into a "Great Society" but whose ambitions and presidency collapsed in the tragedy of the Vietnam War

Few figures in American history are as compelling and complex as Lyndon Baines Johnson, who established himself as the master of the U.S. Senate in the 1950s and succeeded John F. Kennedy in the White House after Kennedy's
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 8th 2010 by Times Books (first published 2010)
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Shawn Thrasher
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Not the most interesting book in this series, but still well worth reading. Peters quotes Lady Bird's press secretary Liz Carpenter at the end: "That's just him. You have to face the fact that he was that way. You had to accept him warts and all." And so does history." That seems to be the guiding principle behind Peters narrative. Johnson was a combination of diamond and dirt, and Peters shows both sides. The cheating husband and horrible boss (The Devil Wears Prada in politics) was also the ...more
Doreen Petersen
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presidents
A complex yet determined man. Very excellent book!
Gina Denny
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is how I like my biographies: fairly short, focusing on the highlights, but sprinkled with plenty of anecdotes.

Johnson is one of the more unfortunate US Presidents. He was in office in a polarizing time, he did some great things in office and he did some bad things in office (you can decide for yourself which stuff falls on which side of that line). Out of office? HE WAS THE WORST.

Which, of course, makes for an incredibly interesting life story.

I'll be reading the rest of this series- if
Robin Friedman
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
For aging American baby boomers, the presidency of Lyndon Johnson brings back painful memories. Johnson (1908 -- 1973) became the 36th president on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John Kennedy. He is known for his escalation of the War in Vietnam and for the tumultuous period of unrest in the United States which followed in its wake.

Charles Peters offers a portrayal of Johnson, in all his complexity, in his recent short biography in the American Presidents Series
Robert Lloyd
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to an important presidency

To begin with I'm a clinical social worker and I have to say I believe that I see more day to day positive benefits of LBJ's presidency than I have of any other presidency. Being interested in this fascinating man, I found this book to be a good introduction and overview of his presidency. I fully plan to study him more in depth as there is much to explore. I felt the author did a very good job of explaining how important LBJ's presidency was in
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty good overall. The reader can learn what the life was for Lyndon B. Johnson(which is normal since it is a memoir/biography book). To be honest, I was not interested in knowing Johnson, but decided to read his biography. I was able to learn more about the past and politics because of this book. I appreciate it. Lyndon B. Johnson was an important figure that was inspiring but cruel at the same time.
However, there was one major thing that made me uneasy. It was when this book
Brice Fuqua
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good, brief biography of one of the most significant, yet controversial presidents of the 20th Century.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
as always, wonderful in this contemporary with no fantastic or elements but a surprise in the ending!
Zach Koenig
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The presidency of Lyndon Johnson has always fascinated me, to try and understand how a man could react to crowds shouting "Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today!". This book by author Charles Peters gives a very good portrait of the Johnson administration and how it has came to be known.

The main thrust of this book focuses on the dichotomy of Johnson's years in office. On the one hand, he passed some of the greatest legislation of the Civil Rights movement. Plus, he championed the
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
LBJ is certainly a fascinating character, and this account makes me want to read more; one of these days I will tackle the Robert Caro volumes. This is a very engaging account of LBJ, using about half of its meager 160 pages to cover his presidency. Peters bogs down a bit when explaining the machinations around the Gulf of Tonkiin resolution (built on lies as we now know), but otherwise this is a very lively read - both serious and full of the colorful anecdotes we expect out of LBJ.
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
This biography of LBJ could be described as Robert A. Caro light. In all fairness, however, Peters wrote the book for the LBJ entry in The American Presidents series. Arthur Schlesinger and Sean Wilentz are the general editors of the series the purpose of which is to provide brief and generalized presidential biographies. .

It is difficult to review this book because I lived through the Johnson presidency and have read Caro's excellent and detailed biography of LBJ. As such, I am acquainted with
Jason Chambers
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: hist-7coldwar
His is the first I've read of the American Presidents series and its not one that inspires confidence in the rest of the series.

I enjoy a little political knowledge and criticism in Presidential biographies and Peters certainly lacks that. He seems to have a fairly skin-deep knowledge of the political process and doesn't offer any interesting analyses.

If you're interested in the political bent of an author, Peters certainly comes from the left side of the aisle and can't resist a few shots at
Oct 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting book on a president who changed the course of history in many ways. LBJ was a man with a huge ego, a wandering eye, many insecurities and in spite of all his flaws was a great hero in civil rights and social change. This is a short book but tightly packed with information making it a great read for those interested in history and an eye for current events. I will admit that I had checked this book out of my library previously and did not finish it. But seeing it on the shelf again I ...more
Steven Peterson
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
A useful, brief biography of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. This is one in a series, called "The American Presidents." They are all rather short, designed to be accessible to lots of people who might not want to wade through a 600 page biography. That is both the strength and the weakness of this series. One gets a "quick and dirty" introduction to the presidents, but at the cost of depth.

Each reader must determine if the tradeoff is worth it.

At that, this is an interesting addition to the
John Kaufmann
Dec 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I agree with several of the other comments. The book is a primer on Johnson, compared to more detailed biographies. If that's what you're looking for, you'll like this book. It's short, easy to read, and hits the important points. If you want all the grizzly details and stories and anecdotes with detailed explanations for everything he did, go to Caro's books or some of the other more lengthier, more detailed biographies.
Alicia Joy
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I didn't once think about the organization or style of this book. In my mind, this makes this an excellent biography of LBJ. Filled with information without being long-winded and lacking any biases. Highly recommended. Bravo.
Kirk Bower
Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Many hammer this series, but I enjoy them as quick reads & I have been lending them to students, because of that. I believe this one is one of the better ones which I've read. Definitely hit the "human" side of LBJ.
Steven Freeman
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
As a legislator and president his civil rights record is outstanding culminating in the passage of Medicare and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but on the other side, he led us down the path to disaster in Vietnam.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This concise, highly readable and fascinating biography of LBJ reveals his larger-than-life personality (the good and the bad) and examines how his amazing legacy of domestic legislative accomplishments is forever (and perhaps not entirely fairly) tarnished by the tragedy of Vietnam.
Carl Phillips
Jan 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I wanted to know more about the war in Vietmam and Johnson's roll in. He was a crude and vulgar Texas cowboy who accomplished more in civil rights than anyone since Abraham Lincoln, but the Vietnam war came to define his presidency.
Pat Carson
Another good entry in this series and a great introduction to Lyndon Johnson. As usual, great bibliography comes with the title. Chapter 8 - Escalation - gives a brief overview of Johnson and the escalation of the Vietnam War.
Kendall Krebs
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The author and editors made this a succinct book. A great brush up on history, not an in depth look at LBJ.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
basically a primer on Johnson--I like to read compact biographies to help me decide if I want to attack something larger. This worked for me.
James P
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Tries to be a little sensational. Some interesting insights.
Gary Smith
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Peters was the founder and former editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly, a political journal. He is currently the President of Understanding Government, an organization he founded in 1999.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Charles T. Peters Jr.: Erotic

Other books in the series

The American Presidents (1 - 10 of 42 books)
  • George Washington
  • John Adams
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • John Quincy Adams
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Martin Van Buren
  • William Henry Harrison
  • John Tyler