The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson (Hardcover)

The White House Years

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Atria Books, 9781476794761, 464pp.

Publication Date: February 3, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
MP3 CD (2/3/2015)
Paperback (2/3/2015)
Compact Disc (2/3/2015)

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One of “Five Best Books about Wartime Presidents”—Michael Bechloss, The Wall Street Journal

From Lyndon Johnson’s closest domestic adviser during the White House years comes a book in which “Johnson leaps out of the pages in all his raw and earthy glory” (The New York Times Book Review) that’s been called “a joy to read” (Stephen Ambrose, The Washington Post Book World). And now, a new introductory essay brings the reader up to date on Johnson’s impact on America today.

Califano takes us into the Oval Office as the decisions that irrevocably changed the United States were being crafted to create Johnson’s ambitious Great Society. He shows us LBJ’s commitment to economic and social revolution, and his willingness to do whatever it took to achieve his goals. Califano uncorks LBJ’s legislative genius and reveals the political guile it took to pass the laws in civil rights, poverty, immigration reform, health, education, environmental protection, consumer protection, the arts, and communications.

President Lyndon Johnson was bigger than life—and no one who worked for him or was subjected to the “Johnson treatment” ever forgot it. As Johnson’s “Deputy President of Domestic Affairs” (The New York Times), Joseph A. Califano’s unique relationship with the president greatly enriches our understanding of our thirty-sixth president, whose historical significance continues to be felt throughout every corner of America to this day.

A no-holds-barred account of Johnson’s presidency, The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson is an intimate portrait of a President whose towering ambition for his country and himself reshaped America—and ultimately led to his decision to withdraw from the political arena in which he fought so hard.

About the Author

Joseph A. Califano, Jr. spent thirty years in Washington at the top of the Pentagon, on the White House staff as chief domestic advisor to the President, and in the Cabinet. He worked as an attorney for The Washington Post during Watergate and has represented clients as varied as the Black Panthers and Coca Cola. He also spent years on Wall Street and served on more than fifteen public company boards and numerous not-for-profit boards. He is founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). He has written fourteen books, including Our Damaged Democracy. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Praise For The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years

"Taking on a character like LBJ was as daunting asone might imagine. This book helped me shape the role in a way that onlysomeone who actually knew the 36th president could. The book containsinsightful and honest details of this larger-than-life character, and allowedme to see the greatness of his impassioned hope, and the minutia of histroubled soul. He was indeed a Triumph and a Tragedy. Thank you Joe, forbringing him to life for me and millions of others."
— Bryan Cranston, Tony Award-winning actor portraying LBJ in the play ALL THE WAY

“Wonderful book...What makes this memoir of… his Presidency stand out is its vividness. Johnson leaps out of the pages in all his raw and earthy glory.”
— The New York Times Book Review

“A joy to read. A walk through the [most tumultuous] half-decade from 1964 to 1969 ... Oh what anecdotes. Johnson leaves you breathless, disbelieving, aghast…recommended without reservation.”
— Stephen Ambrose

“As close as we'll ever come to seeing Johnson in action with our mind's eye, thanks to Califano's descriptions and care… Not many will give you a better tour of political Washington or such an intimate look at the big, flawed man who was Lyndon B. Johnson.”
— Los Angeles Times

“An insider’s view of the inside, [this] memoir spares no aspect of its complex subject.…Readable, forthcoming, and shrewd.”
— The New York Review of Books

“A sparkling memoir…Califano’s riveting accounts of Johnson’s willingness to take the lead on difficult issues…could well serve as a guide today’s timid politicians.”
— San Antonio Express

“As personal a picture as has yet emerged of Lyndon Johnson the man….[A] fascinating behind-the-scenes report.”
— San Francisco Chronicle

“Superbly written and riveting reading. It is an enormously significant contribution to the public record.”
— New York Law Journal

“Anyone who wishes to feel what it was really like to be in the trenches with Johnson must read this account….The author’s details are graphic, intimate, sometimes scatological. They bring the Johnson manner alive and glowing….Nobody who loves our system of government should fail to turn to Califano for instruction and inspiration.”
— Henry F. Graff

"Joe Califano’s gripping memoir of life with LBJ is one of my favorite books. No aide to this Texas President was closer to him than the Brooklyn-born Califano, who saw almost everything and ardently shared his domestic purposes, yet—and this is so rare among White House memoirs—writes about the boss he served, after decades of hindsight, with surprising detachment and analytical brilliance. Triumph and Tragedy is funny, poignant and unforgettable. Future generations who wish to know what it was really like to work, day to day, alongside this towering, incomparable President during some of the most consequential moments in American history would be well advised to start here.”
— Presidential historian and author Michael Beschloss

“Terrific…. The best insider account I’ve read of the LBJ administration to date.”

"Just watching Johnson wheel and deal through Califano's eyes makes a rousing good story. Johnson's successors in the White House must still salivate at the kind of arm-twisting, ball-busting tactics that permitted the President to sweep through his legislative package."
— Ellen Dahnke

"Joe Califano...had a ringside seat for LBJ's amazing success and dizzying descent. His highly entertaining and thoughtful memoir is the best description of the inner workings of the Johnson White House I have ever read and LBJ--inspiring, terrifying, funny and tragic--comes alive in a way no other writer has managed."
— Robert Schenkkan, Pultizer Prize winner, Tony Award-winning author of ALL THE WAY

“A hugely entertaining narrative—by turns exhilarating, somber, hilarious, touching…[has] an immediacy and intimacy that no other biography has captured.”
— America Magazine

“Few books radically change my opinion, but Joseph A. Califano, Jr.’s The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson has….Anyone reading Mr. Califano will realize, wow, how he got things done….Johnson’s legislative program was dazzling, with its historic measures in civil rights, Medicare, Medicaid and Federal Aid to education....”
— Ken Adelman

“Rich with Johnson anecdotes…The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson reminds us all of what it was like to have a president who tried to do something.”
— Kim Eisler

“A revealing anecdote-laden work…Califano…can really write. Four stars.”
— Larry King

“One of the very best presidential memoirs I have ever read.”
— Liz Smith