Flawed Giant

Flawed Giant : Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973

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Lone Star Rising, the first volume in Robert Dallek's biography of LBJ, was hailed as "a triumphant portrait of Lyndon Johnson as rich and oversized and complex as the nation that shaped him." Now, in the final volume, Dallek takes us through Johnson's tumultuous years in the White House, his unprecedented accomplishments there, and the tragic war that would be his downfall. In these pages Johnson emerges as a character of almost Shakespearean dimensions, a man riddled with contradictions, a man of towering intensity and anguished insecurity, of grandiose ambition and grave self-doubt, a man who was brilliant, crude, intimidating, compassionate, overbearing, driven: "A tornado in pants." Drawing on hundreds of newly released tapes and extensive interviews with those closest to LBJ-including fresh insights from Ladybird and his press secretary Bill Moyers-Dallek takes us behind the scenes to give us a portrait of Johnson that is at once even-handed and completely engrossing. We see Johnson as the visionary leader who worked his will on Congress like no president before or since, enacting a range of crucial legislation, from Medicare, environmental protection, and the establishment of the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities to the most significant advances in civil rights for black Americans ever achieved. And we see for the first time the depth of Johnson's private anguish as he became increasingly ensnared in Vietnam, a war he did not want to expand and which destroyed his hopes for The Great Society and a second term. Exhaustively researched and gracefully written, Flawed Giant reveals both the greatness and the tangled complexities of one of the most extravagant characters ever to step onto the presidential stage.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 784 pages
  • 152.4 x 233.68 x 40.64mm | 1,111.3g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16 pp halftones
  • 0195132386
  • 9780195132380
  • 1,096,626

Review quote

Historian Robert Dallek has vividly brought to life one of the true originals of American politics. Avoiding the demonology that has marred other accounts of this fascinating man, Dallek shows not only his failures and his excesses but also his gargantuan accomplishments and subtle mind. Here is a Johnson without tears or cheers but in a clear, steady light.-The Washington Post Book World Flawed Giant is a lucid, well-written, and judicious study of Lyndon Johnson's days as power broker and president. A monumental Washington saga told by one of America's great historians. A must read!-Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History and Director of the Eisenhower Center, University of New Orleans, author of Lippmann and the American Century Dallek's book, Flawed Giant...sheds new light on the pivotal 1968 election, in which Republican Richard Nixon defeated Humphrey by a hair.... Dallek's book, based on interviews with former Johnson and Humphrey aides, offers the first evidence that Johnson ordered wiretaps on Humphrey's phones in the vice presidential office.- Associated Press Boston University historian Dallek draws from recently released presidential papers and transcripts, as well as interviews with Johnson proteges such as Bill Moyers, to vividly depict LBJ's tumultuous years as vice-president and president.... Dallek is always objective, chasing the facts whether they lead to the detriment or to the advantage of his troubled protagonist. The book is particularly strong in juxtaposing the magisterial, single-handed architect of sweeping domestic reform in the Great-Society with the public-school-educated, provincial legislator from the Texas hill country who felt inadequate when it came to matters of international relations.... Flawed Giant provides a complex yet elegantly rendered portrait of Lyndon Johnson as vice-president, president and man.-Publishers Weekly A biography, by a leading presidential scholar, so comprehensive in coverage and fair-minded in analysis, as to offer a penetrating account of LBJ's world.-James MacGregor Burns, Williams College The most comprehensive Johnson biography to date.... This superb biography, likely to be the standard, is highly recommended for academic and most public libraries.- Library Journal In this second and concluding volume of his biography of the 36th president, noted historian Robert Dallek describes the terrible toll the Vietnam War took on Johnson and suggests that the concerns raised about Johnson's state of mind were well-founded.-Houston Chronicle Dallek has established himself as the principal biographer of Johnson-and a worthy one.-Austin American-Statesman In Dallek's forthright, balanced portrait, we find a man who was as deeply complex a personality as can be imagined in public life. It is a portrait which in the large scale is familiar-the impotent vice presidency,the anguished JFK succesion, the Great Society, growing Vietnam involvement and the forced abandonment of the White House-while the details emerge fresh in Dallek's research and writing.... The author's short afterword offers a cogent and telling summation of LBJ's career and ought to be must reading for historians.... The best and balanced look we now have at this most unforgettable figure.-IThe State Columbia Taking advantage of thousands of hours of conversation taped in the Oval Office, Dallek lets Johnson speak for himself, and no writer could create a more colorful, entertaining, inspiring, eccentric, or troubling character. To read Dallek is to experience Lyndon Baines Johnson rather than the biographer himself. Dallek is less to his Johnson than a faithful, diligent, and thorough amanuensis. * The Boston Sunday Globe * Unlike some other recent renditions, this second half of a biography by a professional historian shows a President often enough disproportionate but never monstrous.-The New York Times Book Review, a Notable Book of 1998 Drawing upon hours of newly released White House tapes and dozens of interviews with people close to Johnson, Mr. Dallek has created, in this volume, a minutely detailed portrait of Johnson as a contradictory and larger-than-life figure, a Shakespearean character: needy, driven, devious, magnanimous and explosive...persuasively shows how Johnson's personality informed his policy making and day-by-day decisions.-The New York Times Dallek utilizes the mammoth documentation available at the LBJ Library and recently released telephone tapes to provide a comprehensive study of the Johnson presidency that far outdistances earlier works. It is both sympathetic and critical.-The News & Observer Poised, scholarly, and readable.-The New Yorker Dallek writes with clarity and pace. He weaves an enormous amount of detailed information into tightly focused chapters, concluding each with a few crisp, terse paragraphs of summary judgment. It is thus an easy book to read, and frequently compelling.-Philadelphia Inquirer Online It's difficult to imagine a more definitive biography of America's embattled president than the 754-page story of the most important 12 years in the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Flawed Giant draws on interviews with hundreds of people closest to Johnson.... this book is exhaustively researched and gracefully written.-Naples Daily News Dallek has written history that has the unresolvability of great drama.-Salon Magazine To read Robert Dallack's new book on LBJ is to be transported back to the era that he helped make so angry and turbulent.... Flawed Giant captures in unforgiving detail a president whose flaws were tragically larger than life.-Chicago Tribune A substantial work, rewarding for those still grappling to understand the 1960's.-The Commercial Appeal Lyndon B. Johnson could have been a contender for Mount Rushmore until his Presidency ran aground in Vietnam-a tragedy that is deftly explored in this readable portrait by a noted historian.-People An historical biographical tour de force. Once again, the author displays extraordinary diligence in thorough research and balanced presentation.... Flawed Giant is far from ordinary biography.-Richmond Times-Dispatch Flawed Giant has a number of surprising revelations about Johnson's behavior after declining to run for re-election in 1968.-Daily Newsshow more

About Robert Dallek

Robert Dallek is Professor of History at Boston University. He is the author of several books, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, for which he won a Bancroft Prize and was nominated for an American Book Award. He lives in Washington, D.C.show more

Rating details

321 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 28% (90)
4 46% (149)
3 21% (68)
2 4% (13)
1 0% (1)
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