This “smartly written…stunning” (The Boston Globe) portrait of Lady Bird as the essential strategist, fundraiser, barnstormer, and ballast for her husband Lyndon offers “a penetrating analysis…of a marriage that paired two complicated but devoted figures, a coupling that changed the face of America” (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Marriage is the most underreported story in political life, yet it is often the key to its success. Historian Betty Boyd Caroli spent seven years exploring the archives of the LBJ Library, interviewing dozens of people, and mining never-before-released letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon. The result “redefines the First Lady as an iron fist in a white glove” (Vanity Fair) and helps explain how the talented, but flawed Lyndon Baines Johnson ended up making history.
Lady Bird grew up the daughter of a domineering father and a cultured but fragile mother. When a tall, pushy Texan named Lyndon showed up in her life, they married within weeks with a tacit agreement: this highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses. The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs, and that her legacy was protecting the nation’s wildflowers. But Caroli shows that she was also the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start Lyndon out of his paralyzing dark moods.
In Lady Bird and Lyndon, Caroli restores Lady Bird to her rightful place in history. But she also tells a love story whose compromises and edifying moments many women will recognize.
Betty Boyd Caroli is the author of Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage That Made a President;First Ladies: Martha Washington to Michelle Obama; Inside the White House; and The Roosevelt Women. She has been a guest on Today, The O’Reilly Factor, Lehrer NewsHour, Al Jazeera, Booknotes with Brian Lamb, and many others. A graduate of Oberlin College, Caroli holds a master’s degree in Mass Communications from the Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in American Civilization from New York University. She currently resides in New York City and Venice, Italy.