IN HISTORY'S SHADOW by John Connally


An American Odyssey
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 In a crowded life that ended this June, Connally was aide and confidant to Lyndon Johnson, businessman, secretary of the navy, governor of Texas, secretary of the treasury under Nixon, and presidential candidate. But he understood that he would be ``identified forever as the man who was wounded by the gun that killed John Kennedy,'' as he acknowledges matter-of-factly in this memoir (written with Herskowitz, coauthor of autobiographies of Dan Rather and Bette Davis). Two chapters here recount Connally's version of November 22, 1963, as he takes up arms against conspiracy theorists (including Oliver Stone) for ``renewing the nation's most haunting ordeal'' (ironically, the author's death from complications caused by his Dallas wounds have led conspiracy theorists to call for an autopsy). But even aside from the ``six seconds in Dallas,'' the rest of Connally's life still would be enough to merit his reminiscences--which, besides his stints in public office, cover his 1973 switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party; his 1974 indictment and acquittal on bribery charges in connection with the Watergate-era ``milk fund''; and his 1987 bankruptcy. Yet despite his distance from these events, Connally is seldom forthcoming about them--for instance, thanking Barbara Jordan for testifying on his behalf at his trial despite her disagreement ``with several of my political beliefs,'' but never explaining what those beliefs are (though they must relate to Connally's lukewarm stance on civil rights, a convulsive issue on which he's totally silent here). The best chapters detail the author's relationship with LBJ, whom Connally characterizes with affectionate exasperation as a kind of political older brother--impossible to work for but desperately craving to be liked. Like two other rangy Texans, Sam Houston and LBJ, Connally became a major controversial national figure by transforming his state. But while bristling with self-confidence and energy, his memoir tells little about the source of his Texas Tory beliefs. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56282-791-X
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993


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