Lyndon B. Johnson and Modern America
By Kevin J. Fernlund
University of Oklahoma Press: 2009, 175 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - March 8, 2010
History professor K. J. Fernlund takes an unusual but lively and informative approach in his short fact-filled history of President Lyndon B. Johnson. He focuses on how Johnson's upbringing in western America affected his thinking and goals. For example, did Johnson become sensitive to the needs of America's blacks because of what he saw and heard in Texas?
The book is especially interesting during this period of history when conservatism is being touted as the only proper way of thinking in the US, since Johnson was a liberal committed to social justice and the improvement of America and its people.
Johnson was so successful in the US Senate, that Fernlund is convinced that Johnson made a mistake when he accepted the position of vice president in 1960. He describes Johnson's senatorial accomplishments and states that he could have continued to do much more in the Senate than as vice president.
Yet, when Johnson became president after the assassination of President Kennedy, he became, in Fernlund's opinion, one of the most successful US presidents. Much of the legislation that he signed into law is still on the books and still affecting and helping US citizens.
Thus, Fernlund feels that Johnson made a second mistake when he decided not to continue to lead his country and run for a second term as president. Fernlund is certain that Johnson would have won the election, and once he won, done much for the country and the world.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.