The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 101
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
(pp. 132-133), Lloyd Bentsen was not an Eisenhower Democrat in 1952 or
later (p. 179), D. B. Hardeman and Dorsey B. Hardeman were two different
people, and Sam Rayburn did not live on into the mid-196os (p. 320). Reston
accuses Lyndon Johnson and Connally of marital infidelity, political dirty
tricks, and overt criminality on the basis of third-party memories, often con-
veyed in uncheckable interviews. Readers who believe that it is permissible to
say anything about the personal lives of historical figures they do not like might
wish to consider how they would feel if such standards were applied to them-
selves and their families.
Reston's style of documentation combines the caprice of roulette with the
precision of horseshoes. Some chapters give the number of the file boxes where
items are in the Johnson Library. For other chapters the notes say only to see
the "House Papers" in the LBJ Library. Such references confront the re-
searcher with dozens of well-filled boxes to survey when verifying Reston's
sources. A key memorandum about Connally and Johnson's decision not to run
in 1968, to which Reston refers on pp. 334-335, has no proper citation to the
White House Central Files at all. Readers should also know that quotation from
documents and oral histories in the LBJ Library are not transcribed and
rendered accurately. The basic courtesy of accurate citation is not part of
Reston's magisterial style.
Anyone expecting an adequate treatment of Connally as governor will be dis-
appointed. Instead, Reston's theory about Lee Harvey Oswald pursuing Con-
nally rather than John F. Kennedy as his assassination target receives dis-
proportionate space. The most interesting aspect of this swollen narrative is
Reston's reliance on Lyndon Johnson as a moral commentator on Connally's
elitist political style. Beside a selfish and shallow Connally emerges a more
subtle, complex, and compassionate Lyndon Johnson. Reston did not gain ac-
cess to John Connally's papers, which were given to the LBJ Library in 1981
and restricted by Governor Connally for five years. Reston alleges that the ac-
quisition of these papers and their restriction were directed against him per-
sonally. In fact, it will require almost five years for the LBJ Library staff, which
has many demands on its time, to arrange and organize the large Connally col-
lection. Reston seems to be asserting a presumptive right to use the Connally
documents before they are organized and processed, in advance of any other
scholar or Johnson biographer who might want to see them. Why the LBJ Li-
brary should disrupt its regular procedures to favor the monetary interest of a
single researcher is not explained.
The real problem in this book is sorting out what the author learned from
reliable evidence and what he put in to achieve the mass audience that this kind
of commercialized publishing deal pursues. John Connally was not an historical
figure of the first rank, and his public career has more anticlimax than achieve-
ment within it. Even so, he deserves a more balanced and careful scrutiny than
Reston's sensationalized account affords him.
University of Texas at Austin
LEWIS L. GOULD
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/129/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.