The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Book Reviews

ful and judicious use of the primary and secondary resources available
to scholars working in this period. What his style lacks in grace and
charm is more than made up for in solid scholarship.
University of Houston JAMES A. TINSLEY
Exploring the Johnson Years. Edited by Robert A. Divine. (Austin:
The University of Texas Press, 1981. Pp. vii+ 280. Preface, intro-
duction, appendix, index. $25.)
There is only one appropriate response to this book: three cheers! In
admirable fashion it not only surveys the holdings of the LBJ Library,
but relates them in a lively manner to the historiography of the John-
son era. The volume includes, in addition to a perceptive overview by
the editor, Robert A. Divine, well-wrought essays on Vietnam by
George C. Herring, Latin America by Walter LaFeber, civil rights by
Steven F. Lawson, the war on poverty by Mark I. Gelfand, federal edu-
cation policy by Hugh Davis Graham, the White House staff by Larry
Berman, and the media by David Culbert.
This study does credit both to the independently minded authors
and to the LBJ Library and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation,
for the writers show no evidence of constraint in exposing areas where
holdings are inaccessible or, in Lawson's words, offer only "a view of
the past from the top" (p. 118). Yet, not surprisingly, the main empha-
sis is on the "cornucopia of riches" (p. 175). Apart from printed rec-
ords, the Library holds 31 million pages of documents, more than
1,200 transcripts of oral-history interviews, hundreds of thousands of
photographs, and miles of film and videotape, a remarkable proportion
of which is already open to scholars.
Even at this early stage Divine discerns a consensus emerging from
the literature that has drawn upon this trove. No one, he notes, can
deny that Johnson was a manipulator, but neither can the president
be dismissed as an unprincipled opportunist. Similarly, in a judicious
evaluation, Herring states that historians have come to perceive John-
son's performance in Southeast Asia with considerably more detach-
ment, for "the situation he inherited in Vietnam lent itself to no easy
solution-perhaps to no solution at all" (p. 54).
One would hope that, encouraged by the success of this book, the Li-
brary and Divine would contemplate a second volume that could take
up subjects like the Texas years, LBJ's congressional experience, the
politics of the age of Johnson, foreign policy toward areas such as

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed July 29, 2014.