Jhonson and Kennedy

Topics: Vietnam War, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson Pages: 9 (2813 words) Published: March 21, 2013
Johnson and Kennedy: The Public View Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. by Doris Kearns; Pragmatic Illusions: The Presidential Politics of John F. Kennedy. by Bruce Miroff Review by: Carl N. Degler Reviews in American History, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Mar., 1977), pp. 130-136 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2701781 . Accessed: 21/03/2013 00:41 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

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Carl N. Degler

Doris Kearns. Lyndon Johnson theAmerican and Dream.New York: Harper and Row, 1976. xii + 432 pp. Index. $12.50. F. Bruce Miroff.Pragmatic Illusions:The Presidential PoliticsofJohn Kennedy.New York: David McKay, 1976. xvii + 334 pp. Notes and index. $9.95 (cloth), $4.95 (paper). Both of these books are writtenby political scientists,but none of the indicia of the behavioralists clutterstheir pages. There are no tables, graphs, or esoteric jargon. Yet historiansof the traditionalschool will not find here the kind of historicalanalysis in which they have confifundadence. As will become evident in a moment,these books differ in theirfailureto mentally fromone another,but theyare strikingly alike use unpublished materials. In this respect they are like another recent book on the presidency by another political scientist:David Barber's Presidential Character (1972). Barber's book, to be sure, ranges over several administrations instead of one and is more rigorouslyand rigidly analyticalthan eitherof these volumes. Yet all three of these books of historical analysis by politicalscientists eschew what historianscall original research.The Kearns and Miroff volumes make evidentthatpolitical scientistsare as interestedas historiansin the underlyingmotives of political figures and in the hidden influences operating on policy. Nonetheless, politicalscientistsapparentlybelieve, ifthese volumes are of representative theirdiscipline,thattheycan do the job withoutreferand synchronousevidence thathistorianshave ence to the unintentional insisted upon. traditionally The only unpublished materialsdrawn upon in eitherbook are interviews or oral testimony.Doris Kearns, forexample, relies heavily upon her conversationswith Lyndon Johnson,but all of thatevidence is after the fact. Kearns was a White House Fellow and then an assistant to Johnsonwhen he was workingon his memoirs,but she was never privy to any policy matterswhile they were being decided. Moreover, she `7 Copyright 1977 The Johns Hopkins University Press All rights reproduction any formreserved. of in

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DEGLER /Johnsonand Kennedy


as concedes, Johnson'smemorywas farfrominfallible. (That deficiency, she demonstratesin one place, can be psychologicallyrevealing, but only ifthereis documentationagainst which to check the recollection.)A more significant limitationon the use of such oral testimonyis that Johnsonmay have made up some of his "memories," as she concedes in discussing his dreams. In short, some of these hithertounpublished recollections Johnsonare enlightening, by and theyconstituteat least a minor source...
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