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4.0 out of 5 stars
Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes 1963 1964
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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(5 star)show all reviews
The story is told that when Nixon took office, LBJ showed him around the White House and revealed a hidden taping system. He made the argument that everything a president said or did should be taped for posterity.
Johnson has fared a little better than Nixon viz. the results of such executive record keeping. In the case of excerpts chosen by Michael Beschluss for these tapes (and as the review title suggests, do by the audio version), there is no criminal activity uncovered. Instead, we hear things as diverse as conversations with Martin Luther King about the Civil Rights Act, arm-twisting of Southern Democrats to get that and other progressive laws passed, chilly exchanges between the President and Attorney General Robert Kennedy after President Kennedy's death, and a hilarious exchange with a flabbergasted New York tailor as Johnson asks the tailor to make trousers for him, describing exactly how they should fit around the Presidential....er, anatomy. Of course, there are heartfelt conversations with both Jacqueline and Rose Kennedy immediately after President Kennedy's death. In one very sweet exchange, Jackie refers to media criticism of his calling her "honey" as they flew with the president's body from Dallas to Washington. Kennedy insisted she felt positive about the term of endearment."Honey is loving word, a wonderful word," she tells him.
The 35th President comes across with a multifaceted personality: the dogged politician who won't take no for an answer (and won't forget a favor given); the Texas rancher who doesn't believe in coddling his dogs; the old fashioned Southern gentleman who addressed female officials with charm and not a little flirtation. Throughout the tapes, Johnson is shown trying to get his head around the little "police action" in Southeast Asia he inherited....what would be the downfall of an otherwise successful presidency. That won't happen until a further volume, however; this set of tapes covers only 1963 and 1964. Beschluss's comments (he reads his writing himself) tie the excerpts together chronologically and provide a little editorializing, but solid opinions based on knowledge of the time.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these tapes; I felt as though I was hearing history. In addition, I learned more about one of the most colorful politicians of the twentieth century.
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on January 12, 2000
Found this audio tape absolutely mesmerizing. To hear actual conversations related to hisorical events immediately following President Kennedy's assassnation was both fascinating and enlightening. Gave me an entirely new perspective of LBJ, his character and accomplishments. Also an excellent insight into what really goes on behind the scenes in our nation's capital. A strong reminder that what we read and hear via the news media is often 'less than accurate'. For me, this tape debunked many concepts I held related to LBJ and other political figures, especially Robert Kennedy. I was particularly surprised to hear the amount of respect and warm feelings that LBJ and Jackie Kennedy apparently held for each other. I reccomend this book and/or audio tape to anyone interested in better understanding the nature of our political system. A real eye opener for me. I will never accept the images that our news medial creates about our political leaders again.
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on January 16, 1998
I imagine folks' response to this book/tape will be dependent on their age, how well they remember the days depicted. I remember them well, found both the book and the less
comprehensive tape to be excellent. This is
The Good Lyndon at his best - when the
'threat' of the impending 1964 election kept
him (relatively) honest. No taking it away from
the man, he was one awesome character, one
who *filled* the space he occupied.

Vietnam moments in these conversations -
esp. those in the tape version, which gives the
feel of being a wiretapper on the president's
private line - are heart-rending. It all mightn't
have happened. Johnson foresaw the
consequnces of escalating the war, and yet
he proceeded. We'll have to await Beschloss's
*next* book/tape to understand why.

A great read and an even better listen. Pick up
the tape version for drive-time.
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on October 17, 1997
This book's release is incredibly timely, eerily so. At a time when one southern president, charming and outgoing, becomes undone by taping of oval office events, here comes Michael Beschloss' razor sharp edited transcripts of Lyndon B. Johnson's White House conversations and meetings. Unlike Clinton, however, LBJ was not afraid to let it all hang out, both figuratively and literally. He said what was on his mind, political correctness be damned. Reading this book is absolutely fascinating... it is like hiding behind one of the curtains in the oval office. This book is also an antidote to the one-sided characterizations of Johnson in many biographies (Caro) as a madman. He certainly emerges as a multifaceted personality in these pages, and is a much more sympathetic character than you might believe.
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on January 22, 1998
I was 3 when Lyndon Johnson came to power, so my only memories of him were of his decision not to run in 1968 and his historical villification for Vietnam. This book puts an incredibly human face on a very complex, manipulative man. It has a couple of slow spots and does not offer anything earth shattering about Johnson; yet, it does keep your attention from start to finish as you literally watch a President operating from day to day in unedited mode. I highly recommend it.
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on September 27, 2000
TAKING CHARGE:THE JOHNSON WHITE HOUSETAPES,1963-1964.IS TRANSCRIPTS OF LYNDON BANIES JOHNSON THE 36th PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES's FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE.COMPLETE WITH TEXT AND BLACK AND PHOTOS THIS BOOK TELLS OF HIS PRESIDENCY IN OWN WORDS.THIS BOOK IS A MUST FOR ANY STUDENT OF THE LBJ PRESIDENCY
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on September 27, 2000
THE AUDIO TAPES OF TAKING CHARGE IS A MUST FOR ANY STUDENT FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF LYNDON BANIES JOHNSON.
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