Ohio History Journal

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews




Public Papers of the Presidents of the United

States: Lyndon B. Johnson. Two Volumes.

(Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal

Register, National Archives and Records

Service, General Services Administration,

1970. Vol. I: January 1 to June 30, 1968, lxix +

+ 761p. + A-93p.; index, $10.50; Vol. II:

July 1, 1968 to January 20, 1969, Ixiii +

p.763-1404 + A-93p.; index, $9.50.)


Most students of the United States are by

now familiar with this continuing series.

Launched in 1957, it now covers in full the

Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson

administrations, and in the future, along with

annual compilations of the Nixon papers,

will be extended back to 1928, covering all

years of the Hoover and Roosevelt adminis-

trations. For those working in the recent

period, this series has become a valuable re-

search tool, providing in a single publication

the type of uniform, systematic, inclusive

collection not yet available for earlier peri-

ods. Given the high standards maintained by

the editors and compilers, there has been lit-

tle question as to its reliability. Texts have

been faithfully reproduced; editorial com-

ments, while limited in scope and number,

have been accurate and informative; and, so

far as I can determine, there have been no

instances of arbitrary or politically oriented

selection, omission, or alteration.

The volumes under review, covering the

last 386 days of the Johnson administration,

maintain the same standards and format of

those published previously. They include,

along with numerous ceremonial items, all

the President's major addresses, messages,

press conferences, and public letters, among

them such items as his last two messages on

the state of the Union, his special messages

on urban problems, conservation, civil rights,

consumer protection, and crime, his state-

ments on gun control, the Pueblo crisis, the

Vietnam War, and the Paris peace talks, and

perhaps most fascinating of all, his surprise

announcement revealing his decision not to

seek reelection. As in previous volumes, the

items are in strict chronological sequence,

but an excellent index enables the reader to

locate quickly those pertaining to any given


From the perspective of less than two

years, one cannot yet tell whether historians

will regard this period of 386 days as being

of great significance. Quite possibly, they may

look upon it as one of the nation's critical

turning points. It was, after all, a time

marked by the emergence of the "new poli-

tics" and the disintegration of the old Demo-

cratic coalition, by major shifts in reform

and foreign policy attitudes, by the most

drastic repudiation of a national leader since

the ordeals of Woodrow Wilson and Herb-

ert Hoover, and by a new sense of pessimism

and disillusionment in the face of national

divisiveness, political polarization, and seem-

ingly insoluble problems. Johnson describes

it as a time not only of "anguish" and "deep

divisions," but also of "resolution" and

"progress." The mood that pervades many of

his statements is that of a man who has lost

his bearings, who reacts with defensive self-

justification, and who in the end is much

relieved by the shedding of responsibility.

Scholars, of course, will have to go much

deeper in order to understand what was hap-

pening and why it happened, but these vol-

umes will provide an authentic record of the

President's public positions and reactions

during a period that seems likely to be the

subject of intense historical study in the




University of Iowa



The Cross of Culture: A Social Analysis of

Midwestern Politics, 1850-1900. By PAUL

KLEPPNER. (New York: Free Press, 1970. x +

402p.; tables, appendices, bibliography, and

index. $8.00.)


Dr. Kleppner is dissatisfied with traditional

approaches to the study of American polit-

ical history. In this sophisticated and chal-

lenging work he has offered some alterna-