Am höchsten bewertete kritische Rezension
not the best of the recent LBJ/RFK/JFK/White House books
am 29. Oktober 1997
Recent months have seen the publication of a spate of books regarding presidential politics in the turbulent decade that was the 1960s. Taking Charge, The Kennedy Tapes, Shadow Play, LBJ's War, Kennedy and Nixon, The Walls of Jericho, The Living and the Dead, Guns and Butter, Dereliction of Duty, The Other Missiles of October---all these books offer some insight into the thoughts, beliefs, actions and geopolitical decisions of the men (and they were all men) who ran our country during that difficult and often painful period. Many of them are well-researched, some are well-written, a few (including this one) have become best-sellers, but all of them are missing a vital piece of the puzzle, a flaw which leaves each of them, for all af their research and erudition, strangely unsatisfying and incomplete. This book is equally, infuriatingly, incomplete. Although interesting, it offers a totally one-sided picture of LBJ's early months, much like hearing one end of a telephone conversation---you can glean a lot of infofmation, but without the missing pieces you have no real idea of the overall context and meaning of what you are hearing
One magnificent new book supplies those vital missing piecse and, in doing so, paradoxically renders each of the other books both more valuable and at the same time obsolete----Mutual Contempt, by Jeff Shesol. Shesol's thesis, which he amply substantiates with tapes, documents and personal interviews, is that the feud between RFK and LBJ was pivotal not only in the later stages in their respective political careers, but also in a wide range of policy decisions taken by Johnson, as President. It is both an important piece of historical research and a thoroghly enjoyable read. It is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the Vietnam War, the Johnson Presidency, the catastrophic results of the Great Society which we are still living with today, or, indeed, the 1960s in general. It should certainly be read in preference to any of the other books mentioned above, including Taking Charge.