Flawed Giant--the monumental concluding volume to Robert Dallek's biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson--provides the most through, engrossing account ever published of Johnson's years in the national spotlight. Drawing on hours of newly released White House tapes and dozens of interviews with people close to the President, Dallek reveals LBJ as a visionary leader who worked his will on Congress like no chief executive before or since, and also displays the depth of his private anguish as he became increasingly ensnared in Vietnam. Writing in a clear, thoughtful, and evenhanded style, Dallek reveals both the greatness and the tangled complexities of one of the most extravagant characters ever to ascend to the White House.
In his sequel to Lone Star Rising, Lyndon Johnson & His Times, 1908-1960, Boston University historian Dallek draws from recently released presidential papers and transcripts, as well as interviews with Johnson proteges such as Bill Moyers, to vividly depict LBJ's tumultuous years as vice-president and president. If not as engaging or evocative as other biographers, Dallek is always objective, chasing the facts whether they lead to the detriment or to the advantage of his troubled protagonist. The book is particularly strong in juxtaposing the magisterial, single-handed architect of sweeping domestic reform in the Great Society with the public-school-educated, provincial legislator from the Texas hill country who felt inadequate when it came to matters of international relations. As Dallek shows, Johnson yielded too often (sometimes against his better instincts, almost always against his own best interests) to Ivy-educated advisers on such problems as Vietnam. Then we have Johnson's private war with Bobby Kennedy, of whom he said: " skipped the grades where you learn the rules of life. He never liked me, and that's nothing compared to what I think of him." All told, Flawed Giant provides a complex yet elegantly rendered portrait of Lyndon Johnson as vice-president, president and man. 32 halftones not seen by PW. $50,000 ad/promo; cover feature in Atlantic Monthly; History Book Club and BOMC alternates; 6-city author tour.