Upcoming Book Launch: LBJ Tapes at the National Archives

LBJ volumes 7 & 8

On Thursday, April 28 at 7:00pm, the National Archives in Washington, D.C. will host a special program to mark the Miller Center's release of the highly-anticipated seventh and eighth volumes in its award-winning print series, The Presidential Recordings: Lyndon B. Johnson, now available in bookstores and online retailers (Amazon.com; Barnes & Noble).

Free and open to the public, this event will be held at the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater, located on Constitution Ave., NW between 7th and 9th Sts. The evening will feature a  multi-media presentation of conversation highlights and audio clips, followed by a question-answer session and panel discussion led by a team of experts, including:

  • Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
  • David Coleman, Chair of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program
  • Guian McKee, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia
  • Kent Germany, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina
  • David Carter, Associate Professor of Auburn University

Among the conversations included in the volumes:

  • On June 11, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson tells Sen. Richard Russell, “We’re doing just fine except for this damn Vietnam thing.”
  • On June 29, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover engages in a smear campaign against the mother of a missing civil-rights worker, telling Johnson, “She’s a Communist, you know
  • On June 30, Johnson calls Sen. Ted Kennedy in the hospital where he is recovering from a plane crash. He tells Kennedy. “It’ll make you stronger when you get older.”

Advance praise from Publisher's Weekly in a starred review deems these volumes "a significant record of American history in the making." Thirty-four of the most critical days of Johnson's presidency are captured in candid and uncensored telephone conversations. Discussions between Johnson and his advisors regarding America’s role in Vietnam, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the developing crisis of three missing civil-rights workers in Mississippi unfold across 1,000 pages of annotated transcripts. A companion DVD provides the reader with complete conversation audio files, a photo gallery, and video from the period. 

Copies of The Presidential Recordings, Lyndon B. Johnson: Mississippi Burning and the Passage of the Civil Rights Act, June 1, 1964 – July 4, 1964 will be available for purchase at the event. A book signing will conclude the evening.


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Drawing on President Johnson's Oval Office recordings, these volumes of carefully annotated transcripts from the University of Virginia's Miller Center for Public Affairs cover one critical month during which Johnson's landmark civil rights bill passed the Senate, and three student civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. The transcripts, mostly of phone conversations, reveal LBJ in a virtuoso performance, challenging and cajoling his cabinet members and advisers on Southeast Asia ("We've already violated in sending an armed plane , haven't we?"), rattling off poll results for the upcoming presidential election, maneuvering around Sen. John Stennis of Mississippi regarding the murdered civil rights workers. (Stennis says, "There's... a local colored man had been making himself obnoxious, smart-aleck troublemaker, I'm afraid somebody's after him and just got the others along with him.") Although a priceless historical record—sometimes disturbing, sometimes surprising—the voluminous transcripts are frustratingly choppy, riddled with the ramblings, interjections, and false starts of unscripted conversation. But this is a significant record of American history in the making, and for anyone fascinated by LBJ or the inner working of the White House, this is an invaluable record.