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Publisher's Summary

Taking Charge brings you into the room with an American political legend, still hated and revered a quarter century after his death. We hear Lyndon Johnson as he schemes and blusters, rewards and punishes, and reveals a bedrock core of unshakable political beliefs.
The only president to record his private conversations from his first day in office, LBJ ordered these tapes locked in a vault until at least the year 2023. But now they have been unsealed, providing a close-up look at a president taking unprecedented power, from John F. Kennedy's murder in November 1963 to Johnson's campaign for a landslide victory.
Taking Charge is filled with revelations about the full-blooded Texan behind the public image. You will hear LBJ:

Revealing his self-doubts and personal anguish over the responsibilities of the presidency
Receiving the frank criticism of his wife, Lady Bird Johnson
Staking his presidency on a revolutionary civil rights bill
Scuttling Robert Kennedy's drive to be his vice president
Using the Tonkin Gulf attack to expand the American beachhead in Southeast Asia
Unveiling his private, tortured early doubts that the US could ever win a war in Vietnam
Taking Charge gives us an unprecedented look into a crucial presidency that continues to shape our lives today. In LBJ's own words, it is history "with the bark off".
All the way with LBJ: explore our full list of titles about Lyndon Johnson and the Johnson administration, including Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-65.
©1997 Michael R. Beschloss (P)1997 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.
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Critic Reviews

"These secretly recorded conversations between President Lyndon Johnson and members of his family, his staff, and the troubled nation he was governing constitute one of the most exciting audio programs of the decade, invaluable to anyone who is interested in history, politics, or the workings of human nature." (Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amanda on 11-22-11

Great as an audiobook

I agree with another reviewer who said this was one book that works better as an audio book than in print - for anyone interested in this period of American history, the American presidency and/or LBJ this is well worth listening to. The original tapes are fascinating and Beschloss' commentary is generally good. I highly recommend this audiobook.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By NOLAHunter on 09-01-10

Great use of audiobook format and primary sources

Listening to this book is such a wonderful and unique experience I can't imagine what it is like to read it in print. Much of the power of the material would be lost. Taking Charge is made for the audiobook format. It is a great use of primary source historical materials. Beschloss sets up each snippet of LBJ's conversation and then you get to hear LBJ himself. Fascinating and fun. Great listening.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mr. J. Scholefield on 12-30-14

Listening-in to history being made

This is an amazing experience, listening to conversations, as they happened, between giants of history like LBJ, Martin Luther King, Eisenhower, Jacqueline & Bobby Kennedy. This contrasts with informally and chatty nature of what is said, most of the time.

This is where an audiobook comes into its own and makes it compulsive in a way not possible in the usual book format.

Nearly the entire book consists of actual recordings from LBJ's tapes. Beschloss does an excellent job though, as a narrator, linking the recordings together to make a coherent whole.

What makes this book all the more riveting is the range of topics covered. LBJ throws himself into everything from the civil rights struggle to Vietnam and even advises his wife and daughters about getting getting their hair done and putting lipstick on before having a walk on the White House lawn.

It was a revelation to me that LBJ appeared to seriously consider not standing for the presidency in 1964, due to the civil rights issue.

It comes through strongly how good LBJ was at managing people. He shows a deft touch in his conversations with Bobby Kennedy, not as brash as he's made out to be by some.

Altogether fascinating history as though it's happening now in all its freshness.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Filip Matous on 12-31-15

Insight into presidential communications

Would you consider the audio edition of Taking Charge to be better than the print version?

The audio version is a must as you get an added insight into tone and emotion that you can't get with print.

Only problem is it is rather hard to understand the beginning due to quality of the recordings themselves.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By R on 01-18-17

Post-assassination tapes glossed over

This is an interesting compilation revealing some of LBJ's complexities, qualities, manners and thinking, but the post-assassination conversations, which most would be interested in, are seriously under-represented. No mention whatsoever of the taped-over 14 minute conversation with J Edgar Hoover the day following JFK's death (or its transcript) and nothing about the hatching and execution of the Warren Commission. These omissions (or explanations wherefore) significantly limit the success and appeal of this audiobook, despite the clear transcriptions and fascinating exchanges between LBJ and RFK.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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