The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Califano, once a chief domestic adviser to Lyndon Johnson, paints an intimate, balanced and basically sympathetic portrait of the 36th president. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Califano, President Johnson's special assistant for domestic affairs from 1965 to 1969, remembers Johnson as a driven, obsessive, yet compassionate leader, similarly described in Robert Dallek's authoritative Lone Star Rising ( LJ 6/15/91). A dedicated and loyal Great Society foot soldier, Califano emphasizes the legislative actions and policy implications of Johnson's programs. Lacking Robert Caro's graceful style and his excessive emphasis on Johnson's ambition ( Means of Ascent , LJ 4/15/91), Califano's memoirs successfully recount the workings of an expansive, caring, yet quixotic government and the actions of a president who tried and cared. Especially noteworthy are Califano's descriptions of Johnson's fateful decision to pursue simultaneously the Vietnam War and the Great Society; Johnson's anguish over the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, his long-time political nemesis; and the emergence of the credibility gap. An important book for most libraries.-- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp . Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
The New York Times Book Review
“What makes this memoir…stand out is its vividness. Johnson leaps out of the pages in all his raw and earthy glory.”
Robert S. McNamara
“The man who, next to the President, has contributed more than any other individual in our country to the conception, formulation, and implementation of the program for The Great Society.”
The Washington Post Book World
“A joy to read...Johnson leaves you breathless….This book is recommended without reservation.”
Robert Schenkkan
"One of the great pleasures of my research into Lyndon Johnson was getting to know Joe, Johnson's top domestic advisor from 1965 - 69. His highly entertaining, thoughtful memoir is the best description of the Johnson White House I've ever read. LBJ comes alive, and we're given a ringside seat for his amazing success and dizzying descent."
The New York Review of Books
“An insider’s view of the inside, [this] memoir spares no aspect of its complex subject.…Readable, forthcoming, and shrewd.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“As personal a picture as has yet emerged of Lyndon Johnson the man….[A] fascinating behind-the-scenes report.”
The Washington Post Book World - Stephen Ambrose
“Oh what anecdotes...A walk through the half-decade from 1964 to 1969 that was the most tumultuous in the lives of every American over 30 years of age.”
America Magazine
“A hugely entertaining narrative—by turns exhilarating, somber, hilarious, touching…[has] an immediacy and intimacy that no other biography has captured.”
Washington Times
“Few books radically change my opinion, but Joseph A. Califano, Jr.’s The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson has….Anyone reading Mr. Califano will realize, wow, how he got things done….Johnson’s legislative program was dazzling, with its historic measures in civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid and Federal Aid to education.”
Newsday
“One of the very best presidential memoirs I have ever read.”
Legal Times
“Rich with Johnson anecdotes…The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson reminds us all of what it was like to have a president who tried to do something.”
USA Today - Larry King
“A revealing anecdote-laden work…Califano…can really write. Four stars.”
San Antonio Express
“A sparkling memoir…Califano’s riveting accounts of Johnson’s willingness to take the lead on difficult issues…could well serve as a guide today’s timid politicians.”
New York Law Journal
“Superbly written and riveting reading. It is an enormously significant contribution to the public record.”
Robert Dallek
“Terrific…. The best insider account I’ve read of the LBJ administration to date.”
The New Leader - Henry F. Graff
“Anyone who wishes to feel what it was really like to be in the trenches with Johnson must read this account….The author’s details are graphic, intimate, sometimes scatological. They bring the Johnson manner alive and glowing….Nobody who loves our system of government should fail to turn to Califano for instruction and inspiration.”
Los Angeles Times
“As close as we'll ever come to seeing Johnson in action with our mind's eye, thanks to Califano's descriptions and care…. The view is worth the price of admission. Not many will give you a better tour of political Washington, or such an intimate look.”
Nashville Tennessee
“Just watching Johnson wheel and deal through Califano’s eyes makes a rousing good story. Johnson’s successors in the White House must still salivate at the kind of arm-twisting, ball-busting tactics that permitted the President to sweep through his legislative package.”
Michael Beschloss
"Joe Califano’s gripping memoir of life with LBJ is one of my favorite books. No aide to this Texas President was closer to him than the Brooklyn-born Califano, who saw almost everything and ardently shared his domestic purposes, yet—and this is so rare among White House memoirs—writes about the boss he served, after decades of hindsight, with surprising detachment and analytical brilliance. Triumph and Tragedy is funny, poignant and unforgettable. Future generations who wish to know what it was really like to work, day to day, alongside this towering, incomparable President during some of the most consequential moments in American history would be well advised to start here.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671664893
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/3/1991
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

Joseph A. Califano, Jr., served as Lyndon Johnson’s top White House domestic policy aide and as US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. He is Founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). He has written several books. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.

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