Adele Edisen
03-25-2012, 08:00 PM
This book by Mark K. Updegrove, Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library on the University of Texas at Austin campus, is a compilation of transcriptions of oral history recordings during the LBJ presidency from 1963 to 1969. The statements from LBJ, his family, members of Congress, and other people close to Lyndon Johnson, including portions of telephone conversations with Martin Luther King, Jr., provide a narrative account of these critical years.

The book begins with the assassination of John Kennedy. Johnson, his wife Lady Bird, Jacqueline Kennedy, and others' accounts of that day provide a straight forward narration of the events at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Excerpts from an eight-page letter written later by Jacqueline Kennedy to President Johnson expressing her gratitude for his thoughtfulness then are included. The book continues with the important issues and legislation completed during the Johnson administration on civil and voting rights, education, and the Great Society which continue to benefit all of us today.

The Vietnam War is discussed, along with Johnson's discouragement over its progress. In 1967 he decided not to run for the presidency in 1968, delaying his final decision until March 31, 1968, two weeks after Robert Kennedy had finally announced his decision to run for the presidency in November of 1968. There is a detailed description of this in Horace Busby's book, THE THIRTY-FIRST OF MARCH. Horace Busby had written the original undelivered 1967 speech as well as the one delivered by LBJ on March 31, 1968 when he told the American people he would not seek the office of the presidency.

This book is a nice companion to Robert Caro's upcoming book on LBJ in May, THE PASSAGE OF POWER, covering the years 1958 to 1964.