Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History
, Dec 6, 2012
- 336 pages
Lady Bird Johnson, an early champion of the environment and Project Head Start, has been widely acknowledged as one of America's greatest First Ladies. In a 1982 poll, historians ranked her the third most influential, behind Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt. This oral history encompass three important stories. The first is that of a young woman's transformation from a shy, rural East Texan into one of America's most admired First Ladies. The second reveals the remarkable emergence of Lyndon Johnson, one of the twentieth century's most powerful political and legislative leaders, as told by his most trusted confidante. Finally, this volume presents a keen observer's day-by-day view of a turbulent world, as "the greatest generation" confronted momentous challenges at home and abroad. Lady Bird Johnson's oral history provides an intimate, first-person narrative of her own development and activities as well as the life she shared with LBJ. It includes her vivid descriptions of the moments and events that shaped their destiny and influenced their attitudes on such issues as civil rights, education, health care, and national defense. Her rich verbal portraits brings to life scores of prominent political personalities, including Sam Rayburn, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy. The core narrative consists of thirty-seven oral history interviews that Michael L. Gillette conducted with her during the late 1970s and 1980s; the transcripts were opened only in May 2011 and have never previously been available for research. The lengthy seal under which they have been held is a measure of Lady Bird's expansiveness and candor. In recording the interviews, Mrs. Johnson marshaled the same elegant prose and attention to detail that characterized her memoir, A White House Diary. Selected excerpts from interviews with some of those who knew Lady Bird Johnson best, as well as transcripts of White House tapes, appear in sidebars to amplify and supplement her own narrative. Oxford will publish the book to coincide with the centennial of Lady Bird Johnson's birth in December 2012.