A fresh look at Lady Bird Johnson that upends her image as a plain Jane who was married for her money and mistreated by Lyndon. This Lady Bird worked quietly behind the scenes through every campaign, every illness, and a trying presidency as a key strategist, fundraiser, barnstormer, peacemaker, and indispensable therapist.
Lady Bird grew up the daughter of a domineering father and a cultured but fragile mother. When a tall, pushy Texan named Lyndon showed up in her life, she knew what she wanted: to leave the rural Texas of her childhood and experience the world like her mother dreamed, while climbing the mountain of ambition she inherited from her father. She married Lyndon within weeks, and the bargain they struck was tacitly agreed upon in the courtship letters they exchanged: This highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses.
The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs and that her legacy was protecting the nation's wildflowers. But she was actually a full political partner throughout his ascent - the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start him out of his paralyzing darkness. And while others were shocked that she put up with his womanizing, she always knew she had the upper hand.
Lady Bird began the partnership by using part of her nest egg to help finance Lyndon's first political campaign. Over and over, she kept him from quitting, including the 1948 election when he was so immobilized with self-pity that she had to pick up the phone to solicit donations on his behalf. She was also the one who got him out of bed when he was in a deep funk to go to the 1964 Democratic nominating convention.
©2015 Betty Caroli (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
This is an excellent double biography. It in no way takes the place of Robert Caro's masterpiece, but it does give us LBJ's mother's background and influence as well as his failed politician father's.
But Lady Bird's (aka Claudia) Johnson's childhood and parents are the stuff of novels. Her brothers older than she, were reared for the most part in boarding school, and to a lesser degree so was she. I think the most dramatic example I can give of her parenting as a young child is that after her Mother's death, her Dad put her on a train in Texas to visit her relatives in Alabama, her mother's wealthy ones, and his own less prosperous family. Her only companion on the trip was a sign that said please "Deliver this Child..."
Children with this background often do not do well. But Lady Bird, grew strong, smart, and charming. She dealt with her over powering father and to a degree his series of new wives.
At thirteen when there was no one to take her to school, her Dad bought her a car and she drove herself, she could balance a checking account and read accounting files before she graduated high school. And although her husband looked to be verbally abusive, she always maintained she let it flow around her, and yet she was always totally devoted to him.
This is a truly interesting look at a fascinating woman. There is not much new on LBJ, but it is well worth a look at his life in the light of his wife and daughters.
Near the top easily.
Descriptions of a hard working steadfast Lady Bird unswerving in her dedication to LBJ
As a student of the first ladies I thought I knew quite a bit about Lady Bird but this book was a wealth of new information. LBJ was a classic jerk and a mama's boy but Lady Bird was either madly in love with him or a saint or both. Her story as a politician's life is not surprising but she did choose LBJ over all else - a true story. In his own way he loved her too. I don't judge but in a way envy her passion - she met the man who meant more to her than her own life. Always thought we no longer have politicians that are bigger than life - LBJ always was - this book proved it!
Even though I was certainly a part of society during the Johnson years, I had no idea about the many things revealed in this book. As one that does not get too involved in politics, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Recommend it...especially for the women out there
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