LBJ's Texas White House: Our Heart's Home

Overview

If Lyndon Baines Johnson was larger than life, the family ranch with which he identified, which he and Lady Bird fondly called their "heart's home," and which he made the Texas White House during his five years as president, was part of the reason. In this innovative history of the Johnson Ranch, its ethos and operation, Hal K. Rothman has told a story unlike any other in western history. It is a story of national and even international dimensions, yet truly grounded in the Texas earth. It is a story of the ...

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Overview

If Lyndon Baines Johnson was larger than life, the family ranch with which he identified, which he and Lady Bird fondly called their "heart's home," and which he made the Texas White House during his five years as president, was part of the reason. In this innovative history of the Johnson Ranch, its ethos and operation, Hal K. Rothman has told a story unlike any other in western history. It is a story of national and even international dimensions, yet truly grounded in the Texas earth. It is a story of the relationship between power and place in American culture.

The Johnson Ranch, to which LBJ took foreign dignitaries and national political leaders and to which he himself returned often while in office for renewal and perspective, represented the "real" America to many of its visitors. For many Americans (and perhaps for Johnson himself), the Texas White House evoked the national ethos about rural America and family ties, yet it also had rapid access by jet and the most sophisticated communications system in the world.

In this detailed and engagingly written account of the way the ranch was used during Johnson's years in public office, readers will learn who visited, how they were fed and entertained and how LBJ conducted the nation's business while there. Readers will also get a fascinating interpretation of the role of the ranch in forming Johnson’s own self-image, in promoting Johnson and his rags-to-riches story to the voting public, and in offering Johnson in retirement the one thing he truly craved: control. The Johnson Ranch offers a fascinating insight into the meaning of place in American politics and culture.

After the president's death, and in accordance with Johnson's wishes, parts of the ranch were incorporated into the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, which now consists of the Boyhood Home in Johnson City, the Birthplace, the Johnson Settlement, and the Texas White House. Through the experiences it represents, which are an integral part of Johnson's legacy, it has become one more way in which this dynamic president has influenced U.S. history.

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Editorial Reviews

Dan Flores
"Hal Rothman once again demonstrates his talents and range with this very readable book, which is as much a biography of Lyndon in Texas as it is a biography of his prototype presidential ranch. Those who know and cherish the Texas Hill Country will understand Johnson’s pleasure in his Western White House, and will chuckle at his use of it to teach others lessons about places they’d forgotten, or never knew. This is another splendid Rothman book."—Dan Flores, author, Horizontal Yellow and The Natural West
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585441419
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Hal K. Rothman is a leading historian of the American West, especially of the environment in the West. Holding the Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Texas, he teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has served as editor of the journal Environmental History and has written many books and articles on western and environmental history. His book Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth Century American West received the Western Writers of America's Spur Award for Best Contemporary Non-Fiction in 1999.

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