The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 221
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literature, that focus primarily on the office and the administration
rather than biographically on the president. But Bornet has not been
content merely to draw upon the secondary literature. An emeritus pro-
fessor of history and social science at Southwestern Oregon State Col-
lege, Bornet made three research treks to the LBJ Library, living with
his wife and dog in their travel trailer in the Lake Austin City Park
(while the rest of us were shamefully ensconced at the Villa Capri).
This reviewer must confess at the outset that reservations about an
unfamiliar emeritus view from Ashland, Oregon, were only reinforced
by reading the author's early and immodest claim that "this book ap-
pears to be the pioneering effort to assess this famous presidency" (p.
xiv). But Bornet's book surprises with its saucy freshness, its balanced
yet judgmental views. While Bornet honors Johnson's striking achieve-
ments in domestic policy, he addresses the warts as well: "Yet, acutely
anxious to pursue utopian goals, this presidency was not alert to the
dangers inherent in making unrealizable promises. There was also
excessive devotion to party well-being; overregulation; distortion of
the balance between national, state, and local responsibilities; invasion
of privacy by intelligence agencies; and increased federal spending that
paved the way toward inflation of the currency" (p. xiii). Most "cata-
strophic" (p. xiii) was Johnson's decision to wage an undeclared, open-
ended war in Vietnam for mixed and only partially understood goals.
Bornet's organization is mainly and appropriately chronological,
with chapter ten on the Great Society and chapter eleven on Vietnam
summing up the major balance sheets. What is new here is less sub-
stantive than tonal. Bornet's unapologetically editorial judgments are
occasionally couched as italicized cautions, lest he be misunderstood-
witness his codicil on the no-win war in Vietnam: "Efforts to contain
communism have great virtue; and some kind of effort in Southeast
Asia after 1954 was definitely worth trying, at least for a time and even
with some degree of sacrifice" (p. 337). Foraging in the archives
prompts periodic remonstrances. For example, he faults the president's
casual attitude in taking four trips to remote ranchland he had leased
thirty miles from Camargo, Mexico. The military pilots were forced to
file fake flight plans for these secret trips. Bornet comes closest to chal-
lenging traditional views when discussing not foreign affairs but John-
son's domestic policies and politics-e.g., his White House staff, his
troubled relation with the media, and his decision not to run for
reelection in 1968.
The author's bibliographical essay is consistent in tone: as an inter-
pretive essay on sources, it is unusually well informed and clarifying,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/255/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.