LBJ at the DPL

The Denton Public Library has a good collection of non-fiction and biographical titles about the 36th President. Also, in The Texas Collection at the Emily Fowler Library, there are rare and out of print titles that can be read but have to remain in the building. Good stuff.

LBJ (l.) and Se. Richard Russell (D-Ga.), leader of the "Southern Caucus" ca. 1963

LBJ (l.) and Sen. Richard Russell (D-Ga.), leader of the "Southern Caucus" ca. 1963

If you are obsessed with 20th Century American political history like me, there are a handful of major players that you have to get a handle on if you want to understand what happened. Along with Nixon, Roosevelt, MLK, Jr., Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell and a few others, Johnson helped shape the politics and country we live with and in today.

Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" (2002)

Robert Caro's "Master of the Senate" (2002)

My favorite LBJ bios are written by Robert Caro: “The Path To Power” (1982), “Means of Ascent” (1990) and “Master of the Senate” (2002). A projected fourth volume covering the Vice-Presidency and Presidency is not yet completed. Caro writes almost in a literary style and has a gift for suspense. For instance, the recounting of both the 1948 Senate race and the struggle over the 1957 Civil Rights Act manages to give a sense of the high drama surrounding those events.

I wouldn’t call LBJ a hero because so much of what he did was motivated by naked ambition and by the darker forces in his personality. Yet, he did harness and moderate those forces along with his uncanny ability to use power for the advancement of social justice. Endlessly fascinating, frustrating, inspirational, disgusting, sometimes funny and angering, LBJ was, as much of a cliche as it is to say, a larger-than-life character. 

Always the first person on my “Fantasy Dinner Party” list.

Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Library

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