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Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

The Most Revealing Portrait of a President and Presidential Power Ever Written
Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
4 out of 5 stars (271 ratings)
Regular price: $28.34
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Publisher's Summary

Doris Kearns Goodwin's classic life of Lyndon Johnson, who presided over the Great Society, the Vietnam War, and other defining moments in the tumultuous 1960s, is a monument in political biography. From the moment the author, then a young woman from Harvard, first encountered President Johnson at a White House dance in the spring of 1967, she became fascinated by the man - his character, his enormous energy and drive, and his manner of wielding these gifts in an endless pursuit of power. As a member of his White House staff, she soon became his personal confidante, and in the years before his death he revealed himself to her as he did to no other.

Widely praised and enormously popular, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is a work of biography like few others. With uncanny insight and a richly engrossing style, the author renders LBJ in all his vibrant, conflicted humanity.

©2016 Doris Kearns Goodwin (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Unfortunately simple slant.

Ms. Goodwin is a wonderful writer. This book suffers from her viewing the life of LBJ through a purely psychological lens. I simply couldn't listen very long because everything discussed was related back to LBJ's need for acceptance, based (in the author's view) on his early yearning for his mother's love.

For those interested in this very interesting man, take the time to read Robert Caro's four volumes.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not her best

I have enjoyed Ms. Goodwin's books, but this one was disappointing--surprising since she worked with President Johnson during and after his White House years. The writing seems unedited, and wanders off into speculative psychology and narratives about the political system in general. It certainly does not live up to its superlative subtitle, nor does it directly address Johnson's role in shaping the American Dream.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • JJ
  • TN
  • 12-09-16

Disappointing for a DKG book

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I love DKG. I just finished listening to 'The Bully Pullpit' and gave that book an awesome review. Over the years I have read nearly all of her stuff, and she remains one of my favorite historians. But the tone and format of this book are significantly different than her other works. I suspect this is because she knew the subject personally, and most of the book is constructed from her personal interviews with LBJ.Basically, the book is a plain chronology of his life from birth onwards. It is a retelling of his stories as provided to the author. It includes some of DKG's reflections on LBJ, but it is lacking the amazing diversions and tangents most of her work tackles. Usually you can read one of her books to learn about the subject, as well as the time period. But this book does very little to emotionally portray the era of the subject.And I dont know if its the subject himself or the way the author present him, but LBJ is NOT a character with whom you stay interested; there is no urge to read on and learn what happens; the reader builds no emotional investment in LBJ. This is a stark difference from Taft, who I was so eager to learn what happened with him and TR. With LBJ, I basically felt that I learned he was an insecure jerk, and then it was simply a matter of laying out all the evidence year after year. After about 5 hours of listening to the audio book, I could bear no more. I was heartbroken to write such a poor review for an author I truly love and admire. Regardless, if her next books is of a dead president she did not personally know, I will eagerly buy and devour it!

Has Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, DKG is a master and I think this poor book is because she personally knew the subject.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 12-20-18

Absorbing

A number of years ago, I read Robert A. Caro’s four volume biography about Lyndon Baines Johnson. After reading Caro’s books I felt as if I had a fairly good understanding of Johnson.

This biography of Johnson is obviously biased. Doris Kearns Goodwin was a Ph.D. intern in the Johnson White House. He chose her to write his biography. Apparently, Goodwin found that in the year prior to his death, Johnson revealed more about himself to her than any other person. The book is much different from Caro’s work in that it is more personal and reveals more about his personal conflicts and insecurities.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Goodwin is a master storyteller; so, she brings Johnson to life in this biography. I think both Caro and Goodwin came to the same conclusion about the man, but Goodwin’s is a gentler viewpoint. Johnson was a complex man yet Goodwin manages to capture the private person. This book is well worth the read; and if you were only going to read one book about Johnson, this one would be it.

The book is seventeen hours and one minute. There are two narrators of this book. Gabra Zackman who did the narration and Jim Frangione who did Johnson. I found this method of narration quite interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Psychological, could be more historical

Intelligent read but if you lived the era, you'd want more about the surrounding people

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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incredible insight, hopelessly biased

the author had nearly unfettered access to this legondary President, learned how to manipulate his ego and used this to great advantage in this work. unfortunately, she could not set aside her deeply held personal biases in telling this story and that perspective permiates the work to the point where one begins to question credibility. she conveniently set aside future actual events that substantiated the President's opinions to avoid undermining her own views. all in all worth the time to read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent life story

I chose this book because of the author. She does a great job. She was also close to LBJ in a way she could really know him. I read ladybird Johnson's book on the White House years. It was good to compare the two.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing, not for me.

I was looking forward to a thoughtful scholarly biography. I found the writing subjective and interspersed with too much psychobabble. I would have preferred a presentation of facts from which I could draw my own conclusions instead of having them spoonfed to me.

The use male and female performers was distracting. It pulled me out of the book but I disagree with other reviews that criticized one performer using multiple voices for the different women in the book. That’s good story telling.

I spent more time than I cared to trying to decide if the difficulty I had with this book was with the writer, the narrators or the production values. I couldn’t wait for the book to be over for all the wrong reasons.

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Johnson

very well written. greatly enjoyed a behind the view picture of LBJ with a true picture of the man.

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History unfolded

LBJ was a sadly tragic figure, a victim of his own hubris and denial. But certainly he made egregious errors, numerous bad decisions in Vietnam and elsewhere. Not a hero, just a fallen victim of his own delusions.