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History alum Michael L. Gillette pens book on Lady Bird Johnson

Posted: November 21, 2012
Lady Bird Johnson cover photos from Dr. Gillette's book (left), and Dr. Michael L. Gillette (right)

Lady Bird Johnson cover photos from Dr. Gillette's book (left), and Dr. Michael L. Gillette (right)

Oxford University Press announced the publication of a new book on Lady Bird Johnson this month, entitled Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History, authored by Dr. Michael L. Gillette, Executive Director of Humanities Texas (Ph.D., History, 1984).

Dr. Gillette collected Johnson’s memories in 47 interviews spanning 18 years. These conversations form the heart of the book, an intimate story of a shy young country girl's transformation into one of America's most effective and admired First Ladies.

Lady Bird Johnson's odyssey is one of personal and intellectual growth, political and financial ambition, and a shared life with Lyndon Baines Johnson, one of the most complicated, volatile, and powerful presidents of the 20th century.

The former First Lady - who held B.A. in History from UT Austin - recounts how a cautious, conservative young woman succumbed to an ultimatum to marry a man she had known for less than three months, how she ran his congressional office during World War II, and how she transformed a struggling Austin radio station into the foundation of a communications empire.

As a keen observer of the Washington scene during the eventful decades from the 1930s through the 1960s, Lady Bird Johnson shares dramatic accounts of pivotal moments in American history. Her rich verbal portraits bring to life scores of personalities, including First Ladies Edith Bolling Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Pat Nixon.

An informal, candid narrative, this volume reveals how instrumental Lady Bird Johnson's support and guidance were at each stage of her husband's political ascent and how she herself emerged as a significant political force.

Dr. Gillette directed the LBJ Library's Oral History Program from 1976 to 1991. He later served as director of the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives. He is currently the executive director of Humanities Texas in Austin, and recently authored another book, Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History (OUP, 2010).

Read more about Dr. Gillette in History's current newsletter, Vol. 6, page 13, available for download at this link:
http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/history/alumni/newsletter.php

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"A First Lady With All the Small Graces and a Lot of Grit," review in The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/books/lady-bird-johnson-an-oral-history-by-michael-l-gillette.html?_r=0

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