The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Book Reviews
NORMAN D. BROWN, Editor
The Johnson Years: LBJ at Home and Abroad, Vol. 3. Edited by Robert A. Divine.
(Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994. Pp. ix+293. Preface, introduc-
tion, index. ISBN 0-7oo6o-655-6. $29.95.)
In his excellent introduction, editor Robert Divine charts the continued im-
maturity of scholarship on Lyndon B. Johnson and his presidency. Johnson's
personality-his grandiose vision and petty jealousies, his political acumen and
overbearing manner-mesmerizes historians, journalists, and memoirists just as
Johnson himself overwhelmed colleagues, rivals, and aides. Some analysts por-
tray LBJ as an archvillain, ruthless, unscrupulous, and self-centered, who
wrecked the country and corrupted American politics for a generation. Others
paint Johnson as a tragic hero, whose ambition embraced a monumental liberal
program and whose flaws led him and the nation inexorably to catastrophe. In
every case, as Divine notes, Johnson's character remains the central issue, the
key to understanding his era and achievements.
Divine's express purpose in The Johnson Years is to divert attention from per-
sonality to policy and politics-to examine the Johnson years from a wider an-
gle, assessing even those developments over which LBJ himself exerted little
influence. To do so, this volume and its predecessors, Exploring the Johnson Years
(1981) and The Johnson Years, Vol. 2: Vietnam, the Environment, and Sczence (1987),
assemble the work of scholars conducting research in the Johnson Library in
Austin. The editor also intends to redress the earlier volumes' focus on domestic
matters by emphasizing foreign policy. Four of the seven essays in this anthology
consider international affairs: Lawrence Kaplan investigates U.S. relations with
NATO; Douglas Little analyzes LBJ's innovations in Middle East policy; Divine
examines strategic arms limitation; and Lloyd Gardner unearths the Johnson ad-
ministration's final struggles over the debacle in Vietnam. Together these essays
reinforce Little's assertion that "our fascination with Lyndon Johnson's blunders
in Vietnam" has led us to underestimate the significance of decisions he made,
and avoided, in other parts of the world (p. 150).
Still, the articles on domestic politics offer this volume's principal contribu-
tions. Susan Hartmann's study of "Women's Issues and the Johnson Administra-
tion" exposes LBJ's general indifference toward women's politics and the
emerging feminist movement. The product of a Texas political culture that was
not only all male, but an arena of macho competition, LBJ had little interest in

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed July 30, 2014.