The most recommended books about Lyndon B. Johnson

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to Lyndon B. Johnson, and here are their favorite Lyndon B. Johnson books.
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Book cover of A Political Education: A Washington Memoir

David Von Drehle Author Of Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

From my list on how American politics really works.

Who am I?

A journalist and author for more than 40 years, I now write a twice-weekly opinion column for The Washington Post. Which is odd because I don’t have many opinions. What I do have is a lot of curiosity. One very durable question for me, which informed a couple of my books, is this: How does political power actually work in America? How does change happen?

David's book list on how American politics really works

David Von Drehle Why did David love this book?

Here’s Lyndon B. Johnson again. As a bright young lawyer, McPherson left Texas to work for a year with Johnson, thinking the experience might open his eyes—and a few doors—at the beginning of his legal career. McPherson stepped onto the rocket sled of politics and never stepped off. This grand old man of Washington paused mid-career to give us the ultimate learning-the-ropes memoir of life inside politics.

By Harry McPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Political Education as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This insider's view of Washington in the 1950s and 1960s, of the tumultuous presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and of the conflicts and factions of the president's staff has become a political classic since its original publication in 1972. In this reissue, Harry McPherson adds a new preface in which he reflects on changes in Washington since the Johnson era and on the lessons Bill Clinton could learn from the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.


Book cover of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

Douglas Flowe Author Of Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men and Criminality in Jim Crow New York

From my list on race, crime, and American imprisonment.

Who am I?

I am an Associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis who is primarily interested in crime, illicit leisure, masculinity, American cities, and imprisonment. I grew up both in New York City and Orlando, Florida, and I received a PhD from the University of Rochester. Most of the books I read have to do with understanding the American criminal justice system, criminality itself, and the part societies play in constructing crime. Currently I am researching and writing a book about African American men and the carceral state, tentatively entitled Jim Crow Prison.  

Douglas' book list on race, crime, and American imprisonment

Douglas Flowe Why did Douglas love this book?

This book has been important to me in the work I do, which has straddled the carceral space and the world outside of prison.

Hinton does an amazing job of making it clear how the two are linked; how the world outside feeds the world inside; and how mass incarceration was the result of a bipartisan effort, not simply a response to a seemingly “disordered” world that conservatives feared after the Civil Rights movement.

It was the product of distinct efforts to control and contain populations in novel ways; and along lines of race. Hinton’s research is second to none, and the stories she tells about what drove the War on Crime are captivating. 

By Elizabeth Hinton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Co-Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
A Wall Street Journal Favorite Book of the Year
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Favorite Book of the Year

In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the "land of the free" become the home of the world's largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America's prison problem originated with the…


Book cover of America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama

Jan Stocklassa Author Of The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson's Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin

From my list on real conspiracies.

Who am I?

I was researching the assassination of Sweden’s Prime Minister Olof Palme when I came across the private archive of author Stieg Larsson. After eight years of research, my book The Man Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin was published, which shines new light on the conspiracy behind the unsolved murder. The book has been translated into 27 languages. My first book Gripen by Prague exposes corruption by Saab and BAe in connection with the sale of supersonic jet fighters to the Czech Republic. In the aftermath of the book, police investigations were opened in seven countries including the US and the UK.

Jan's book list on real conspiracies

Jan Stocklassa Why did Jan love this book?

This is an encyclopedia for anybody who wants to doublecheck the official version of events in US history starting from George Washington all the way through the presidencies of Nixon, the two Bushes, and Barak Obama. Investigative journalist Robert Parry worked for Associated Press and Newsweek on the Iran-Contra affair and spent years on the October Surprise, that cost President Jimmy Carter a second term. If you want to understand the role of the arms industry on US foreign policy since World War II, this is a great start. Or as President Eisenhower put it in his farewell address: “… we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

By Robert Parry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked America's Stolen Narrative as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry reframes key chapters of American history by exploring past events that still drive the U.S. political narrative – from why the Framers junked the Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution, to how the modern Republican Party embraced a win-at-all-cost ethos, to why the Democrats shy away from the hard work of accountability.

AMERICA’S STOLEN NARRATIVE takes you on a journey from America’s founding – and the plotting of George Washington and James Madison – to Richard Nixon’s sabotage of Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks, on to the Watergate scandal (showing how those two dark…


Book cover of The Year of the People

Patrick Parr Author Of One Week in America: The 1968 Notre Dame Literary Festival and a Changing Nation

From my list on America in 1968.

Who am I?

I’m a literary historian and I love reconstructing times in the past with enough factual detail that a reader feels as if they are there with the characters, side-by-side. I didn’t start this way. In fact, I wrote fiction for over a decade. It was only after writing eight atrocious, tension-less, now-in-a-box novels that I realized the books I enjoyed reading most were in the history and biography sections of a bookstore. Still, I was undeniably affected by my years in the trenches of fiction writing. As you may see from my choices, I love reading material from writers attempting to check the pulse of the country at that time. 

Patrick's book list on America in 1968

Patrick Parr Why did Patrick love this book?

I very nearly put an LBJ or RFK book here, but there’s a greater chance you haven’t heard or may have forgotten Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy’s well-written account of his 1968 political campaign. McCarthy’s insightful memoir gives 21st-century readers a window back into that year of endless drama and conflict. It will also cause some to compare the book’s place in history with Senator Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution. “1968,” wrote McCarthy, “was the year in which the people, in so far as the system and the process would permit, asserted themselves and demonstrated their willingness to make hard political judgments and to take full responsibility for those judgments. And in so doing they acted with more spirit and commitment than did many political leaders.”

By Eugene J. McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year of the People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is the story of one year, told by the man whose candidacy gave people a symbol and a voice. Senator Eugene J. McCarthy helped to create the new politics with a campaign run on issues, rather than personalities; a candidate seeking not to enlarge his personal power but to restore power to the people, especially those whose opinions often seemed to be in the minority. He had the courage to challenge the traditional system - including his party, the President and his policies - and in the process swept a new spirit, a new vitality, and a new…


Book cover of Personal History

Fran Hauser Author Of Embrace the Work, Love Your Career: A Guided Workbook for Realizing Your Career Goals with Clarity, Intention, and Confidence

From my list on helping women find fulfillment in their career.

Who am I?

Throughout my career, I’ve always been passionate about leveling the playing field for women. I do this through my writing, speaking, and investing. Much of my current work is informed by the 20 years I spent in corporate as both an executive and a mentor to hundreds of women. ​The books I’ve chosen for this list are written by women I admire and who espouse similar approaches to the way I lead and show up at work. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I have!

Fran's book list on helping women find fulfillment in their career

Fran Hauser Why did Fran love this book?

Personal History is Katharine Graham’s memoir. She became the first female Fortune 500 CEO when she took over at The Washington Post. From having Warren Buffet as a mentor to presiding over The Washington Post during Watergate, her life was absolutely fascinating. There is so much to learn about leading, women’s empowerment, and how we show up at work through Graham’s journey. What makes this book unique, though, is that in addition to being a classic in the women’s leadership genre, it’s as juicy and riveting as your best suspense novel.

By Katharine Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Personal History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As seen in the new movie The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep, here is the captivating, inside story of the woman who piloted the Washington Post during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of American media.

In this bestselling and widely acclaimed memoir, Katharine Graham, the woman who piloted the Washington Post through the scandals of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, tells her story - one that is extraordinary both for the events it encompasses and for the courage, candour and dignity of its telling.

Here is the awkward child who grew up…


Rolling Thunder

By Mark Berent,

Book cover of Rolling Thunder

Tom Burkhalter Author Of Everything We Had: a Novel of the Pacific Air War November-December 1941

From my list on air war stories that put you in the cockpit.

Who am I?

I read the books in my list decades before I started writing air war stories. My first novel was a sci-fi space opera about hot starpilots flying from what I called “spacecraft carriers” in an interstellar war. Over the years I’ve flown sailplanes, power planes, and logged time in the SNJ and the DC-3. Since I was never there, flying high-performance airplanes in combat, I try to read all the histories and memoirs and pilot’s manuals I can get my hands on, and study pictures of the people, time, place, and airplanes I’m writing about. 

Tom's book list on air war stories that put you in the cockpit

Tom Burkhalter Why did Tom love this book?

The first few pages are a great example of how to begin a story, right in the middle of the action, trying to land a shot-up F-100 Super Sabre.

You can see in your mind’s eye the concrete rectangle of the runway, feel the stick in your hand, see the gages showing that your engine and your hydraulic systems are bleeding out, and will you really make it to the runway? That’s a pretty good introduction!

Berent is a veteran fighter pilot with all sorts of stories to tell, not only limited to the cockpit in the air. 

Rolling Thunder

By Mark Berent,

What is this book about?

Rolling Thunder is an historical novel about the decisive role politics played during the Vietnam War. Its characters range from men in the field to the Pentagon and the White House. Fighter pilots and Special Forces warriors try to do their best but are hampered by President Johnson, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and their staff members who despise the military. Only one aging USAF general, who fought in Korea and WWII, is on their side. His clashes with his Commander in Chief, Lyndon Johnson, are epic in proportion and startling in content.

In Rolling Thunder, the time is late 1965…


Book cover of 20 Years in the Secret Service: My Life with Five Presidents

Christopher Beauregard Emery Author Of White House Usher: Stories from the Inside

From my list on from-a-white-house-insiders-perspective.

Who am I?

During my twenty-nine nears in the federal government, I maintained a Top Secret clearance while being a CIO, Chief Architect, & Director of various things with the White House, US Congress, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice, where I served in a senior management role for the National Security Division, the agency responsible for serving as the liaison between the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community. Today, my passion is writing about my White House experiences, in both fiction and non-fiction.

Christopher's book list on from-a-white-house-insiders-perspective

Christopher Beauregard Emery Why did Christopher love this book?

This is an excellent memoir of a Secret Service Agent that served under five presidents, from Truman to Nixon. Youngblood provides great stories about working with President Johnson; he also spends a lot of time on the assassination of President Kennedy. I worked closely for over eight years with the Secret Service, and Rufus Youngblood had an outstanding reputation and was held in the highest esteem.

By Rufus W. Youngblood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 20 Years in the Secret Service as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When shots rang out in Dallas on November 22, 1963, U.S. Secret Service Agent Rufus W. Youngblood immediately lunged over the seat of the vice president's car and bravely used his body to shield Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Faced with the unknown, Youngblood maintained this protective position as they sped toward Parkland Hospital. Throughout that fateful day, he vigilantly remained by LBJ's side to ensure his safety.

This candid memoir includes Youngblood's first-hand account of the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath, as well as highlights from his twenty-year career in the Secret Service during which he protected Presidents Truman,…


Book cover of A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story

Will McLean Greeley Author Of A Connecticut Yankee Goes to Washington: Senator George P. McLean, Birdman of the Senate

From my list on inspiring biographies.

Who am I?

I grew up in West Michigan, with a deep interest in American history, politics, and birds. Since boyhood I’ve wanted to learn the life story of my great-great uncle, Senator George P. McLean, who is credited with leading passage of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA represents a turning point in how the world views and now protects birds and the environment generally. Drawing upon my love of history, my degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in Archives Administration, I spent over a year researching McLean’s life story. Thus began my four-year research and writing journey culminating in A Connecticut Yankee Goes to Washington. 

Will's book list on inspiring biographies

Will McLean Greeley Why did Will love this book?

Billy Graham preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people in more than 185 countries. He once preached to a crowd estimated at 1.1 million people in Seoul, South Korea. What set him apart and contributed to his incredible gifts? 

In this engaging and comprehensive book, William Martin gives readers a better understanding of Graham’s strengths and weaknesses and the all-consuming nature of leading a powerful ministry for over fifty years.

From President Truman to President Trump, the evangelist offered spiritual counsel to these and other world notables. Martin describes the differing relationships Graham had with these leaders, sometimes tinged with regret, especially Graham’s fraught relationship with Richard Nixon. 

By William C. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Prophet with Honor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Prophet with Honor is the biography Billy Graham himself invited and appreciated for its sympathetic but frank approach. Carefully documented, eminently fair, and gracefully written, it raises and answers key questions about Graham's character, contributions, and influence on the world religious scene. In this engaging and comprehensive book, William Martin gives readers a better understanding of the most successful evangelist in modern history, and the movement he led for over fifty years.

A Prophet with Honor makes a vital contribution to the Billy Graham legacy and allows us to understand why his words, actions, and personality endeared him to…


Book cover of The Passage of Power

Katherine Ellison Author Of Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention

From Katherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Investigative journalist Passionately devoted mother Jew-Bu Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult Dog worshipper

Katherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Katherine Ellison Why did Katherine love this book?

I’d of course heard about Caro’s opus for years and years and always figured it would be too boring to read that much about LBJ. I was so wrong!

I was finally moved to pick up the first book in his series after seeing Turn Every Page, the wonderful documentary about Caro and his editor, Robert Gottlieb. As a journalist myself I was astounded by the depth and detail of Caro’s reporting – and all that he uncovered about LBJ. What a psychopath who also made positive history – it’s easy to understand why Caro got so obsessed.

This is the kind of book that makes you make lots of exclamatory noises when you’re reading, even all by yourself. I was saying “wow!” so often that I finally inspired my husband to read it and he loved it too.

By Robert A. Caro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Passage of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE, THE MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE, THE AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK PRIZE

Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece.”

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power…


Book cover of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society

Timothy N. Thurber Author Of Republicans and Race: The GOP's Frayed Relationship with African Americans, 1945-1974

From my list on Republicans and Democrats in the 1960s.

Who am I?

I developed a strong interest in current events, especially politics, in high school. What the government does, or does not do, struck me as a vital piece of the puzzle in trying to explain why things are the way they are. That soon led, however, to seeing how the past continues to influence the present. No decade is more important than the 1960s for understanding our current political climate.

Timothy's book list on Republicans and Democrats in the 1960s

Timothy N. Thurber Why did Timothy love this book?

Presidents matter, but they do not have magical powers.

Zelizer persuasively recounts how the Great Society reforms of the 1960s would not have been passed without the work of legislators whose names are largely forgotten today. Democrats achieved many of their goals, but Zelizer also surveys how they faced stern resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill. A window of opportunity to transform the nation opened in the mid-1960s, and then soon closed.

By Julian E Zelizer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fierce Urgency of Now as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A majestic big-picture account of the Great Society and the forces that shaped it, from Lyndon Johnson and members of Congress to the civil rights movement and the media

Between November 1963, when he became president, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal, one whose ambition and achievement have had no parallel since. In just three years, Johnson drove the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts; the War on Poverty program; Medicare and Medicaid; the National Endowments…