The Walls of Jericho: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell, and the Struggle for Civil Rights

The Walls of Jericho: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell, and the Struggle for Civil Rights

by Robert Mann
     
 

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In a “rich and engrossing” narrative (Philadelphia Inquirer) that is “filled with sparring and thrilling maneuvers” (San Diego Union-Tribune), Robert Mann brings to life the high-stakes political gamesmanship that led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Black-and-white photographs.

Overview

In a “rich and engrossing” narrative (Philadelphia Inquirer) that is “filled with sparring and thrilling maneuvers” (San Diego Union-Tribune), Robert Mann brings to life the high-stakes political gamesmanship that led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Black-and-white photographs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is not a comprehensive account of the battle for civil rights, but a Congress-centric study of the lives and interplay of three powerful Democratic senators-one of whom became President-regarding civil rights law. Thus, Mann, author of a biography of Senator Russell Long (Legacy of Power), mines published biographies, oral history archives and his own interviews to sketch the righteous civil rights opponent Russell from Georgia, the eloquent, progressive Minnesotan Humphrey and the pragmatic strategist Johnson from Texas. Johnson cultivated Russell, his elder and a lonely bachelor; he mentored Humphrey, who provided crucial links to Senate liberals. While Mann's discussion of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and national civil rights protests is hardly new, his description of the passage of the important Civil Rights Act of 1964 is absorbing: Humphrey led the charge, while Russell, who chose filibuster over negotiation, was the biggest loser. Johnson, however, undercut Humphrey's effectiveness as vice-president, and Russell's friendship with Johnson broke down during a conflict over a judicial appointment. All three men, sadly, ended their careers in rejection and defeat. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal
This is not a book about the Civil Rights movement; it is about the U.S. Senate and how the political and personal chemistry among three political giants affected the battles in the 1950s and 1960s to enact Civil Rights legislation regarding employment, housing, voting, and public accommodations. The author, a former press secretary to Senator Russell Long, uses numerous telephone transcripts and other archival material as well as interviews he conducted with many who played pivotal roles in this legislative drama. His riveting and revealing narrative weaves the separate stories of Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Russell into a detailed account of how Johnson and Humphrey worked together to undo the liberal filibuster rules of the Senate by breaking up the fragile coalition of Southern Democrats (led by Russell) and Republicans (led by Everett Dirksen)-and thereby allow the majority of the Senate the opportunity to enact the historic Civil Rights legislation. Mann's obvious love for his subject, his considerable writing talents, his evenhanded criticisms, and his meticulous research combine to make this a model narrative of American political history.-Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
An absorbing story of the 16-year Senate siege to break the seemingly impregnable wall of resistance to civil rights for blacks—and of the three Democratic titans at the heart of that battle.

In 1948, 37-year-old Minneapolis mayor Hubert Humphrey called for the Democratic National Convention to "get out of the shadows of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights." The speech helped elect the ebullient Humphrey to the Senate later that year—and dismayed Richard Russell of Georgia, the South's segregationist bloc leader, fighting to delay what he knew was inevitable. Standing between the two was Lyndon Johnson, the cagey Senate majority leader who sought to balance his immediate need to get reelected in conservative Texas with his already burning aspirations for the Oval Office. While drawing on a rich vein of oral histories, archival materials, and interviews, Mann also uses his expertise as former press secretary to Louisiana senator Russell Long (whose life he chronicled in Legacy to Power, 1992) to explain how Russell used his mastery of Senate rules to defy fumbling liberal attempts to invoke cloture, the procedure used to limit the filibuster, the southern bloc's chief weapon. Johnson finally managed to jawbone, wheedle, and wheel-and-deal the Senate into producing the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first legislation of its kind since Reconstruction. Russell agreed to stop an all-out filibuster, satisfied that he had allowed passage of a bill watered down enough for constituents but still substantive enough to help propel protégé Johnson into the White House. Once LBJ assumed the presidency from the slain John Kennedy, he used Humphrey, now majority whip, to pry Republican Everett Dirksen away from the Southern Democrats to support the far tougher Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A fascinating set of parallel lives detailing how the Senate shed its mulish ways to pass momentous legislation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156005012
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
06/15/1997
Pages:
624
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.28(d)

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