Perhaps no president has a more ambiguous reputation than LBJ. A brilliant tactician, he maneuvered colleagues and turned bills into law better than anyone. But he was trailed by a legacy of underhanded dealings, from his stolen Senate election in 1948 to kickbacks he artfully concealed from deals engineered with Texas wheeler-dealer Billie Sol Estes and defense contractors like his longtime supporter Brown & Root.Read more...
Perhaps no president has a more ambiguous reputation than LBJ. A brilliant tactician, he maneuvered colleagues and turned bills into law better than anyone. But he was trailed by a legacy of underhanded dealings, from his stolen Senate election in 1948 to kickbacks he artfully concealed from deals engineered with Texas wheeler-dealer Billie Sol Estes and defense contractors like his longtime supporter Brown & Root. On the verge of investigation, Johnson was reprieved when he became president upon JFK's assassination. Among the remaining mysteries has been LBJ's relationship to Mac Wallace who, in 1951, shot a Texas man having an affair with LBJ's loose-cannon sister Josefa, also Wallace's lover. When arrested, Wallace cooly said "I work for Johnson I need to get back to Washington." Charged with murder, he was overnight defended by LBJ's powerful lawyer John Cofer, and though convicted, amazingly received a suspended sentence. He then got high-security clearance from LBJ friend and defense contractor D.H. Byrd, which the Office of Naval Intelligence tried to revoke for 11 years without success.
Using crucial Life magazine and Naval Intelligence files and the unredacted FBI files on Mac Wallace, never before utilized by others, investigative writer Joan Mellen skillfully connects these two disparate Texas lives and lends stark credence to the dark side of Lyndon Johnson that has largely gone unsubstantiated."
- ISBN-13: 9781620408063
- ISBN-10: 1620408066
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Publish Date: September 2016
- Page Count: 384
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Mellen (The Great Game in Cuba), professor of English at Temple University, takes a vicious swing at President Lyndon Johnson, positingwith limited evidencethat there is no perfidy to which Johnson did not succumb. Mellen suggests that Johnson gave orders to a shady Texas figure, Mac Wallace, to murder an individual whose knowledge of Johnsons misdeeds would be damaging. She insinuates that Johnson was involved in seven more murders, including that of President Kennedy, and that Johnson was guilty of war crimes for abandoning U.S. Naval personnel during a 1967 incident in which USS Liberty was mistakenly torpedoed by Israeli forces. Mellen also claims that, while president, Johnson planned the assassination of Cambodian Prince Sihanouk to facilitate bringing U.S. troops to Cambodia to further the Vietnam War effort. There is much more here for readers interested in Mellens relentless attacks on Johnsons legacy. She indicts Johnson and an advisor for having brokered the unforgivable, the killing of least two million Vietnamese, and reduces Johnsons Great Society accomplishments to a cynical ploy designed to provide him a fresh persona. Mellen may be right about Johnson, but much of her case is based on speculation, circumstantial evidence, or testimony of dubious reliability. (Sept.)