With the final volume yet to appear, Robert Caro’s magnificent biography is the standard-bearer, but Peters delivers a...

READ REVIEW

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

A slim but penetrating biography of Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973).

Washington Monthly founder Peters (Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing “We Want Willkie!” Convention of 1940 and How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World, 2005, etc.) paints a mostly unpleasant portrait of a fiercely ambitious climber who lacked any inhibition when it came to lying, cheating, bribing and betrayal. Though he doesn’t conceal the 36th president’s ugly traits or his role in the fiasco in Vietnam, the author also stresses that, along with Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson produced the greatest reform legislation of the 20th century. The son of a Texas legislator, Johnson grew up fascinated with politics. He learned the ropes in FDR’s Washington before winning election to the House in 1937. He lost the 1941 Senate election due to his opponent’s cheating, but he learned enough to cheat his way to victory in 1948. Although an enthusiastic New Dealer, he joined the nation’s move to the right after World War II and became an equally enthusiastic Southern conservative. Accepting the obscure job of majority leader, Johnson fashioned it into a powerful office that streamlined the Senate’s moribund procedures and gave him national fame as a political wizard. Young senator John F. Kennedy rejected his staff’s opposition to choose him as running mate in 1960, believing correctly that Southern votes would determine a very close race. As president after Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson displayed his genuine concern with poverty and injustice and, unlike later presidents, the political skill to do something about it. Before delivering a painful account of Johnson’s disastrous involvement in Vietnam, Peters makes it clear that the 1964–65 civil-rights, voting-rights and Medicare legislation represent dazzling humanitarian achievements.

With the final volume yet to appear, Robert Caro’s magnificent biography is the standard-bearer, but Peters delivers a splendid short version.

Pub Date: June 8, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8239-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more