Indomitable Will

  • by Mark Updegrove
  • Narrated by Paul Michael, Dan Woren, Coleen Marlo, Bob Walter
  • 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Nearly 50 years after being sworn in as president of the United States in the wake of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Baines Johnson remains a largely misunderstood figure. His force of personal­ity, mastery of power and the political process, and boundless appetite for social reform made him one of the towering figures of his time. But he was one of the most protean and paradoxical of presidents as well. Because of his flawed nature and inherent contradic­tions, some claimed there were as many LBJs as there were people who knew him.
Intent on fulfilling the promise of America, Johnson launched a revolution in civil rights, federal aid to education, and health care for the elderly and indigent, and expanded immigration and environ­mental protection. A flurry of landmark laws—he would sign an unparalleled 207 during his five years in office, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Elementary and Second­ary Education Act, Head Start, and Medicare—are testaments to the strength of his will. His War on Poverty alone brought the US poverty rate down from 20 percent to 12 percent, the biggest one-time drop in American history. As president, he was known for getting things done.
At the same time, Johnson’s presidency—and the fulfillment of its own promise—was blighted by his escalation of an ill-fated war in Vietnam that tore at the fabric of America and saw the loss of 36,000 US troops by the end of his term.
Presidential historian Mark K. Updegrove offers an intimate portrait of the endlessly fascinating LBJ, his extraordinarily eventful presidency, and the turbulent times in which he served.


What the Critics Say

“A readable, endlessly interesting look at the LBJ years.” (Kirkus)
“Updegrove’s valiant and interesting effort to reappraise the man and his presidency is both valuable and necessary.” (Booklist)
“This book throbs with voices from an era that proved to be a hinge of American history. Their recollections become a chorus of insight into Lyndon B. Johnson, the colossus of his time, whose personality, politics, and policies are getting a much deserved second look. No one should be more eager to hear these voices than Barack Obama, whose path to the White House was cleared by LBJ’s indomitable will.” (Bill Moyers)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

LBJ's presidency was far more than the war

This book looks primarily at LBJ's presidency. My view of him is tainted by the Viet Nam War but from this book I learned that he left a great legacy. During his presidency Congress passed landmark legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Open Housing Act of 1968. Lots of other major legislation was also enacted, as you'll find out.

The author is (or perhaps was) the director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. His view of Johnson may or may not be biased. Rather than a straightforward narrative of the presidency, he uses quotes from people who knew LBJ and sometimes has passages from the actual recordings made in the White House. A range of people who knew and worked for LBJ are quoted, but little criticism is offered.

The audio book is one of the unusual I've listened to. Instead of only reading quotes from LBJ and those he called or met with, we get the actual sound recordings from the White House tapes. Some of these, unfortunately, are not the best. LBJ comes through loud and clear, but the other party's words are often mushy. In the conversation between MLK and LBJ, I had to really crank up the volume to understand what MLK was saying; and then, of course, LBJ came back on waaaaay too loud. The other narrators do a fine job.

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- Elaine

Completely Redefines the LBJ Presidency

I was a child when LBJ was president, and I didn't know the historic period in which I was living would be a strong influence on the politics of today. After listening to this book, I found that I had a greater understanding of the The Great Society, the social turmoil at the time of the Johnson presidency, the consequences of the romanticizing of Camelot with Kennedy, and gained a greater perspective of what Johnson's legacy is to my own and other following generations. I learned a lot, and I think before anyone starts talking abut current social programs and their impact on the federal budget and the growth of government, they should read or listen to this book. It is extremely informative and I am thrilled to have listened to it.
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- Sharon Schafer Bennett

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-13-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio