Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Stealing History

A Review of The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent (Knopf Publishing Company, 1990) by Robert Caro

“I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel: ‘As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal; Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel; Lo, Greed is marching on.'” Mark Twain A Pen Warmed- Up In Hell

In their adulatory screed, Lyndon, Washington Post editors Haynes Johnson and Richard Harwood wrote of LBJ in 1973: “Someday he will have his biographer, and it will take the talents of a Mark Twain to capture him.” Confident that, despite the crucible of Vietnam, “history will judge him gently,” Harwood and Johnson still lamented the public outcry that forced their flawed paladin’s retirement to the banks of the Pedernales “to await a more compassionate judgment.” The biographer they heralded published his first volume in 1982. Eight years later, in volume two, he renders a preliminary judgment with ” a pen warmed-up in Hell.”