Lyndon Johnson's towering political skills and his ambitious slate of liberal legislation are the stuff of legend: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and environmental reform. But what happened after the bills passed? One man could not and did not go it alone. Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, Joe Califano, Harry McPherson and the other staff members who comprised LBJ's inner circle were men as pragmatic and ambitious as Johnson, equally skilled in the art of accumulating power or throwing a sharp elbow.
Joshua Zeitz, in his new book “Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House,” tells the story of how one of the most competent White House staffs in American history - serving one of the most complicated presidents ever to occupy the Oval Office - fundamentally changed everyday life for millions of citizens.
Joshua Zeitz is a contributing editor at Politico magazine and has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University, Harvard University and Princeton University. He is the author of several books on American political and social history and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, New Republic, The Atlantic, Dissent, and American Heritage. Zeitz earned his Ph.D. in American History at Brown University. His book “Lincoln’s Boys” was a New York Times bestseller. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Hoboken, New Jersey.
We’ll talk with Joshua Zeitz about lessons from LBJ’s White House for the current administration, the future of the Great Society and issues of race in LBJ’s time and now. We’ll also talk about some of Zeitz’s recent columns in Politico magazine, including conversations about populism and immigration.