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David Talbot : LBJ


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I finished Talbot's book a while back and thought, overall, it was excellent. In particular I feel I gained a lot of insight into Bobby and his state of mind, and into the fact that this pacifist president was, in fact, at war--but it was with his own government. I didn't realize how hostile his chiefs of staff were until I read this book, and I certainly didn't realize what a thundering loony Curtis LeMay was.

I am really mystified though at its depiction of LBJ as just another victim of the assassination, some poor soul caught in the cross hairs of history. Frankly I don't understand how Talbot could characterize Johnson, one of the most ruthless and corrupt politicians in history, so benignly.

If nothing else it seems inescapable that the timing of the assassination was dictated by the Bobby Baker scandal which was being investigated by congress on the day of the assassination. After a couple more days of testimony it would probably have been too late to save LBJ's career, and possibly too late to save him from prison. There's also the fact that President Kennedy told his secretary on November 19 that LBJ would not be his running mate in '64. So he was toast, unless...

If this book just ignored LBJ that would be more understandable; Johnson's true nature could then be considered outside the scope of the book. But it didn't ignore him; it portrayed him as a frightened shocked & befuddled man overtaken by the forces of history and thrown into the white house. Er, humbug.

Johnson's background is littered with bodies, including his own sister's, murdered by LBJ's own hit man Mac Wallace. Mac Wallace's fingerprint was found inside the Texas School Book Depository.

Bobby Baker friend Don B. Reynolds told the FBI that Baker said the "SOB" Kennedy would never live out his term & would "die a violent death." LBJ told Clare Booth Luce that one in four presidents die in office--"I’m a gamblin’ man, darlin’, & this is the only chance I got.” Look at who his backers were: Brown & Root (war profiteers) & HL Hunt (racist commie-hating John Birch Society loon who wanted that oil depletion allowance). Then there's The Wink...

The real LBJ is not the man described in the book "Brothers."

I brought this issue up at our meeting with David in London. Maybe David would like to comment on his view of LBJ and the assassination.

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