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Description - Mutual Contempt by Jeff Shesol

Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy loathed each other. Their antagonism, propelled by clashing personalities, contrasting views, and a deep, abiding animosity, would drive them to a bitterness so deep that even civil conversation was often impossible. Played out against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, theirs was a monumental political battle that would shape federal policy, fracture the Democratic party, and have a lasting effect on the politics of our times. Drawing on previously unexamined recordings and documents, as well as memoirs, biographies, and scores of personal interviews, Jeff Shesol weaves the threads of this epic story into a compelling narrative that reflects the impact of LBJ and RFK's tumultuous relationship on politics, civil rights, the war on poverty, and the war in Vietnam. As Publishers Weekly noted, "This is indispensable reading for both experts on the period and newcomers to the history of that decade." "An exhaustive and fascinating history...Shesol's grasp of the era's history is sure, his tale often entertaining, and his research awesome."-Russell Baker, New York Review of Books "Thorough, provocative...The story assumes the dimensions of a great drama played out on a stage too vast to comprehend. "-Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1997 Critic's Choice) "This is the most gripping political book of recent years."-Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780393318555
ISBN-10: 0393318559
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 155mm x 30mm)
Pages: 624
Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publish Date: 16-Dec-1998
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Mutual Contempt by Jeff Shesol

Book Reviews - Mutual Contempt by Jeff Shesol

US Kirkus Review » An extensive, minutely detailed analysis of the Lyndon B. Johnson - Robert F. Kennedy mutual-fear-and-loathing society. Entire books have been written examining Lyndon Johnson's presidency in which Robert F. Kennedy is but a very minor player. In his book, Shesol filters Johnson's entire vice-presidential and presidential careers through the lens of his hatred of Robert Kennedy and RFK's reciprocal contempt for Johnson. In his first book, Shesol, a political cartoonist, sets out to prove that from 1959 to 1968 both Kennedy and Johnson made "few important decisions without first considering" their mutual contempt, which was "the defining relationship of their political lives." Shesol offers a mountain of evidence to buttress these original claims. The book is filled to overflowing with detailed reconstructions of many of the political actions RFK and LBJ took. Shesol is correct - to a very limited degree. The two men hated each other viciously, and their hatred had an impact on some of their political decisions. Those facts are well documented here and elsewhere. But Shesol does not come close to proving that the mutual hatred was a key factor in Johnson's presidency or in Kennedy's political career. Shesol claims, for example, that Johnson's Vietnam War policymaking, by mid-1967, was "inextricably bound to the Johnson-Kennedy feud." The feud had some impact, but Shesol either ignores or cursorily mentions the many other, much more crucial factors. They include the intransigence of the Vietnamese communists, the weakness of our South Vietnamese ally, pressures from the American Joint Chiefs and from conservative Republicans, threats from China, and Johnson's strong desire to win the 1964 election and, later, enact his Great Society programs. A myopic portrait of two powerful politicians that all but ignores any actions other than their spiteful, petulant, petty personal feuding. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Jeff Shesol

Jeff Shesol is the author of Supreme Power: Franklin Roosevelt vs. the Supreme Court and Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, and the Feud That Defined a Decade. He was a speechwriter in the Clinton administration and lives in Washington, DC.

Books By Jeff Shesol

Supreme Power by Jeff Shesol
Paperback, April 2011