Thursday, October 22, 2009

The first day of LBJ - NBIH

The day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson took over office. At New Books in History Marshall Poe spoke with Steve Gillon, who wrote a book titled The Kennedy Assassination--24 Hours After, but while Kennedy and his assassination are subject of the title, Johnson makes the subheading and for the actual subject of the book: Lyndon B. Johnson's Pivotal First Day as President.

What is both astounding and at the same time completely expectable is the utter confusion around LBJ's succession of JFK. Astounding it is, because Kennedy was not the first president to be murdered and Johnson was not the first vice-president who had had to suddenly step in. Also, the US never have had serious succession contention. Nevertheless, the assassination struck like lightning on a bright day and shook the nation just as much as all the leading individuals, making for the most humanly confusion.

What adds to the picture and makes for the juicy story Gillon has to tell: the president's brother, Robert Kennedy had a disliking of Johnson and seemed to be scheming against the succession. Or at least, Johnson was sufficiently suspicious of the Kennedy clan and schemed, in his turn, to pull in the transition of power and stage it such that it would look swift and smooth. Poe allows Gillon to spell the story out and it makes for a riveting podcast. I wonder how much drama is left for the readers of the book.

More NBIH:
Ayn Rand,
Atlantic History,
Political rationalizations in Nazi-Germany,
Whalen / Rohrbough,
Confronting the bomb.
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