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Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson

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After three years of cooperation with the author, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson ended her participation in this biography after an essay Russel published about LBJ's infidelities. Lady Bird covers the full spectrum of Mrs. Johnson's life, career, and ultimately her multi-layers, seldom-documented relationship with LBJ. After three years of cooperation with the author, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson ended her participation in this biography after an essay Russel published about LBJ's infidelities. Lady Bird covers the full spectrum of Mrs. Johnson's life, career, and ultimately her multi-layers, seldom-documented relationship with LBJ.


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After three years of cooperation with the author, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson ended her participation in this biography after an essay Russel published about LBJ's infidelities. Lady Bird covers the full spectrum of Mrs. Johnson's life, career, and ultimately her multi-layers, seldom-documented relationship with LBJ. After three years of cooperation with the author, Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson ended her participation in this biography after an essay Russel published about LBJ's infidelities. Lady Bird covers the full spectrum of Mrs. Johnson's life, career, and ultimately her multi-layers, seldom-documented relationship with LBJ.

30 review for Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    I read the Robert A. Caro biography series on Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird was of course, mentioned in the book. I just completed reading “ Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson” by Jan Jarboe Russell and I am surprised at how much I learned about both lady Bird Johnson but also LBJ from this book. Russell reveals that after three years into her research for the book she received an icy letter from Mrs. Johnson abruptly ending their interviews. Lady Bird was 86 years old and freely cooperating w I read the Robert A. Caro biography series on Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird was of course, mentioned in the book. I just completed reading “ Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson” by Jan Jarboe Russell and I am surprised at how much I learned about both lady Bird Johnson but also LBJ from this book. Russell reveals that after three years into her research for the book she received an icy letter from Mrs. Johnson abruptly ending their interviews. Lady Bird was 86 years old and freely cooperating with the author until Russell pressed her about LBJ’s affairs and long time mistress Alice Glass. Russell went into great detail about LBJ’s affairs rather than just mentioning them it passing. The author states LBJ was born poor but lady Bird was born into a rich Southern family. She lived most of her early life in Alabama. She was raised by her black Nanny who named her Lady Bird. She was born Claudia Alta Taylor. Lady Bird's mother died when she was just 5 years old and she was raised mainly by her mother’s sister. Her father and uncle were successful businessmen and taught Lady Bird about business and money. Lady Bird grew up with servants and had never done house work until she married LBJ. Russell covers Lady Bird's early life, college and marriage. The book provides lots of photographs. I found it interesting that during the WWII when LBJ was in the Navy, Lady Bird took over running his Congressional office and did so successfully. Russell states Lady Bird felt she could not be financially secure depending on LBJ’s politic career as it could end at any time, so she set off to earn her own money. Lady Bird is the only first lady in history to have built and retained a fortune (multimillions) with her own money. She built herself a diversified business empire and ran it on her own. She was noted to be an astute business woman. Lady Bird raises two children, ran a home for a domineering and demanding husband, and ran her own business empire all in the background of her husband’s career. The author claims Lady Bird’s biggest challenge was being faced with LBJ’s infidelities. LBJ carried on a long term affair with Alice Glass, the wife of Charles Marsh, the wealthy publisher of the Austin American-Statesman. Russell also goes into detail about LBJ’s affairs with Helen Gahagan Douglas, the former actress and California congress woman. Like Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird refused to play the part of the wronged wife. Instead, she battled her private misery by spearheading worthy causes, including the beautification of American and her crusade on behalf of the environment. The book is loaded with information about Lady Bird, but is at times awkwardly written; the extensive research by the author does off set this awkwardness with its substantive information. Overall the book does provide one with a good understanding of Lady Bird Johnson. I obtained this book from my local library.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan O

    I don't usually rate books with 1 or 2 stars, because I don't usually finish books I don't like and don't feel it is fair to rate them if I don't finish them. In this case, however, I wanted the information about Lady Bird Johnson in preparation for reading Robert Caro's biography of LBJ. That being said, there were parts of this book that I liked, but overall it was disappointing. I thought she did a good job in telling Lady Bird's experience of the assassination of JFK and her whistle-stop tou I don't usually rate books with 1 or 2 stars, because I don't usually finish books I don't like and don't feel it is fair to rate them if I don't finish them. In this case, however, I wanted the information about Lady Bird Johnson in preparation for reading Robert Caro's biography of LBJ. That being said, there were parts of this book that I liked, but overall it was disappointing. I thought she did a good job in telling Lady Bird's experience of the assassination of JFK and her whistle-stop tour through the South in preparation for the 1964 election. However for most of the book, rather than a telling of Lady Bird's story, it seemed to be more of a platform for the author to give her opinion of Lady Bird and LBJ. And the opinions didn't appear at the end of the narrative as a conclusion, but were interspersed throughout resulting in constant repetition of the same ideas - LBJ was a weak, egomaniacal, womanizer, and Lady Bird was a "proper stoic Southern" lady who subjugated herself to the men in her life. While these things may be true, the book is based on interviews with the subject as well as many of her friends and acquaintances, and I would have preferred to hear their opinions more often than those of the author. There was also little historical background given in the book. This wasn't really a problem for me as I've read about this time period and lived through part of it, but it would be for some other readers. I don't restrict my reading of history only to authors with history degrees. I've read some great books written by journalists, in particular, which were very well-researched, but this isn't one of them. Most of her sources appear to be interviews and oral biographies written by others. I think this book would have been better if it also had been written and presented as an oral biography. Although, this might not have been possible since after 3 years of interviews, Lady Bird ended her association with the author and project after the author published an article about LBJ's infidelities. Overall, I would say look elsewhere for information about Lady Bird Johnson. Publisher's Weekly says it was written "in part as a corrective to Robert Caro's multi-volume LBJ bio," but at least two reviews I read said that there was little new information. I'll try to remember to make a note here after I finish The Path to Power.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Browning

    This biographical work concerning Lady Bird Johnson provides an overview of her life as a child, congressional wife, and First Lady. It is, however, at best an overview of most of these. It is unfortunate that Russell chooses instead to focus on Mrs. Johnson's ability to "look past" LBJ's well documented indiscretions. Russell focuses the majority of her work on discussing Lady Bird's stoicism and strength. While it is no doubt true that Lady Bird was the exemplar of both of those assets, there i This biographical work concerning Lady Bird Johnson provides an overview of her life as a child, congressional wife, and First Lady. It is, however, at best an overview of most of these. It is unfortunate that Russell chooses instead to focus on Mrs. Johnson's ability to "look past" LBJ's well documented indiscretions. Russell focuses the majority of her work on discussing Lady Bird's stoicism and strength. While it is no doubt true that Lady Bird was the exemplar of both of those assets, there is much more to her legacy as First Lady. It would have been quite helpful if the author had delved further into Lady Bird's involvement in LBJ's congressional office (indeed serving from time to time as a de facto congresswoman), her tenure as First Lady, and the development of Lady Bird into a political icon. Russell instead chose to focus primarily on LBJ's indiscretions and immaturities, and how Lady Bird dealt with these shortcomings. Russell also expends a great deal of attention on Lady Bird's youth. While it is no doubt informative to Lady Bird's later years, there is a disproportionate amount of time dedicated to this earlier life at the expense of later chapters. Overall, the reader is left with a solid sense of who Lady Bird Johnson was, but will also be left longing for a bit more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Claudia Lady Bird Taylor was not the first woman to run off with a good looking man she barely knew in an attempt to escape a domineering father, only to discover she'd bedded down with an equally domineering husband. Poor Bird, what she chose put up with. It came as a surprise that behind the drab exterior was a savvy business woman, an ambitious politician, as well as an independent and wealthy woman. That she was an unavailable mother also came as a surprise. Good bibliography and history les Claudia Lady Bird Taylor was not the first woman to run off with a good looking man she barely knew in an attempt to escape a domineering father, only to discover she'd bedded down with an equally domineering husband. Poor Bird, what she chose put up with. It came as a surprise that behind the drab exterior was a savvy business woman, an ambitious politician, as well as an independent and wealthy woman. That she was an unavailable mother also came as a surprise. Good bibliography and history lesson.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    The movie was so highly acclaimed that I wanted to read the book first. Knowing little to nothing about the Johnsons and the Johnson presidency (a bit before my time), it was interesting from a historical standpoint. The recounting of JFK's rise to president, assassination, civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. I don't think I've ever read a book that wasn't better than the movie. I am guessing this movie is going to be boring. The movie was so highly acclaimed that I wanted to read the book first. Knowing little to nothing about the Johnsons and the Johnson presidency (a bit before my time), it was interesting from a historical standpoint. The recounting of JFK's rise to president, assassination, civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. I don't think I've ever read a book that wasn't better than the movie. I am guessing this movie is going to be boring.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    What a lovely Book - I read it right after one on Jackie O. No comparison, a spoiled, egocentric 'girl' versus a well mannered lady. You know her husband wasn't a bad guy, desoite how he sometimes treated her - but she just persevered, and - very much made her own millions. Something he never did. Liked the book - would recommend if you have any interest in the history of that time or first ladies. What a lovely Book - I read it right after one on Jackie O. No comparison, a spoiled, egocentric 'girl' versus a well mannered lady. You know her husband wasn't a bad guy, desoite how he sometimes treated her - but she just persevered, and - very much made her own millions. Something he never did. Liked the book - would recommend if you have any interest in the history of that time or first ladies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell provides fascinating insight in to the world of Lady Bird Johnson. The book puts in to context how Mrs. Johnson's childhood shaped the woman that she became while married to LBJ and during his political career. I was captivated by every part of the story. It is a great read and I highly recommend it! Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson by Jan Jarboe Russell provides fascinating insight in to the world of Lady Bird Johnson. The book puts in to context how Mrs. Johnson's childhood shaped the woman that she became while married to LBJ and during his political career. I was captivated by every part of the story. It is a great read and I highly recommend it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Interesting account of the life of Lady Bird Johnson. Our book club is reading another biography and I'm waiting for my copy to arrive, so I read this one to compare. As a Southern woman who grew up around women like Mrs. Johnson, I could understand a lot of her motivations and reasons for putting up with a lot of pain in her marriage. I do hope women have more choices in their lives these days. Interesting account of the life of Lady Bird Johnson. Our book club is reading another biography and I'm waiting for my copy to arrive, so I read this one to compare. As a Southern woman who grew up around women like Mrs. Johnson, I could understand a lot of her motivations and reasons for putting up with a lot of pain in her marriage. I do hope women have more choices in their lives these days.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Apryl McLean

    I wish Lady Bird had been born about thirty years later. I like reading about first ladies, her husband disgusted me, I wish she'd had a more loving, more devoted, less selfish husband. I understand she married him and found that she had not married a very good husband but what she considered a good man and he needed her which she liked. I wish Lady Bird had been born about thirty years later. I like reading about first ladies, her husband disgusted me, I wish she'd had a more loving, more devoted, less selfish husband. I understand she married him and found that she had not married a very good husband but what she considered a good man and he needed her which she liked.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joseph J.

    Excellent in brief biography of Mrs. Johnson. Begun with the subject's cooperation, Mrs. Johnson subsequently ended the collaboration with the author in light of how her husband may appear. Therefore the book has the feel of uncompletion, while nevertheless containing a wealth of information and facts which those who remember Lady Bird-and those who don't-will appreciate. Excellent in brief biography of Mrs. Johnson. Begun with the subject's cooperation, Mrs. Johnson subsequently ended the collaboration with the author in light of how her husband may appear. Therefore the book has the feel of uncompletion, while nevertheless containing a wealth of information and facts which those who remember Lady Bird-and those who don't-will appreciate.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kiki Z

    Honestly, this barely even feels like it's about Lady Bird. Honestly, this barely even feels like it's about Lady Bird.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is one of the best books of a first Lady that I have read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Mendoza

    This book takes quite some time to really pick up. The author spends much of her time trying to explain how Lady Bird's childhood influenced her as an adult, it began to feel forced. The big themes that the author pressed was 'Southern stoicism" and the concept that Lady Bird had no mother, therefore tried to fill the gap with the love of mother nature. There are interesting tidbits that come from her childhood. I was really intrigued by a profile on the man who founded Kellogg's, the cereal com This book takes quite some time to really pick up. The author spends much of her time trying to explain how Lady Bird's childhood influenced her as an adult, it began to feel forced. The big themes that the author pressed was 'Southern stoicism" and the concept that Lady Bird had no mother, therefore tried to fill the gap with the love of mother nature. There are interesting tidbits that come from her childhood. I was really intrigued by a profile on the man who founded Kellogg's, the cereal company, he was also the founder of a retreat that administered alternative medicine. I have been meaning to read about Lady Bird for quite some time. She was very dynamic for her time and held responsibilities that customarily would be delegated to a man. In many other ways she represented the past, she stood along her husband fiercely. Reading about Lyndon Johnson was very hard. On one hand I cringe at the way he treated women and on the other I can't help but feel bad for him. He was caste into the presidency during turmoil and it never quite stopped. I often think that Nixon was the big story of Shakespearean tragedy, but Johnson, Hoover, and Truman's story have similar context. It was an interesting book but there was nothing special about it. The writing was decent but strained at times. The author did her research well, but didn't spend nearly as much time on development. There were parts that were redundant and others where I didn't know who she was talking about. (There are five people with the last name Johnson and they all also have the same initials).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    Lady Bird Johnson was just as complicated as her husband, and journalist Jan Jarboe Russell sometimes struggles with understanding the choices Lady Bird made with her life. Maybe I'm just a romantic, or old-fashioned, or both, but her relationship with Lyndon makes a lot of sense to me. She loved him, he loved her, they shared the same goals, and none of Lyndon's many affairs or personality flaws could change that. While the relationship with Lyndon is central to the book (as it was to Lady Bird Lady Bird Johnson was just as complicated as her husband, and journalist Jan Jarboe Russell sometimes struggles with understanding the choices Lady Bird made with her life. Maybe I'm just a romantic, or old-fashioned, or both, but her relationship with Lyndon makes a lot of sense to me. She loved him, he loved her, they shared the same goals, and none of Lyndon's many affairs or personality flaws could change that. While the relationship with Lyndon is central to the book (as it was to Lady Bird's life), Russell also does a good job of showing just how smart and competent Lady Bird was as a business woman and a political operator. She had the skills and drive to succeed at anything she set her mind to, and both Lyndon Johnson and the country are lucky that she set her mind to managing him.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lovescaleb

    Very detailed life story of a First Lady. She had strength, class & an inspirational love for nature. She was more than a devout wife to LBJ - a saint who bore his political escapades and extramarrital affairs. I'm disappointed that the writer, Jan Jarboe Russell, pressed Lady Bird on why she stayed with cheating LBJ all those years. It was because she wanted to. She loved him "warts and all." I also got a not-so-admiring look at the Kennedys. Nevertheless, Lady Bird was Texas' class act. The LB Very detailed life story of a First Lady. She had strength, class & an inspirational love for nature. She was more than a devout wife to LBJ - a saint who bore his political escapades and extramarrital affairs. I'm disappointed that the writer, Jan Jarboe Russell, pressed Lady Bird on why she stayed with cheating LBJ all those years. It was because she wanted to. She loved him "warts and all." I also got a not-so-admiring look at the Kennedys. Nevertheless, Lady Bird was Texas' class act. The LBJ Ranch was great to visit this past summer. I'm so glad I found out more about the woman who stood beside her man in hard times and behind him when need be.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This biography of Lady Bird is both researched and developed from interviews the author Russel conducted. Though the first half of the book suffers a bit from a choppy style, Russel makes it clear how Lady Bird was a woman of her times: how this influenced and shaped her relationship with LBJ and with others as well as her perspective on life. Russel offers a fairly full account of the tumultuous times of the 1960s from Bird's perspective as a Southern Lady and the vice- and then, president's wi This biography of Lady Bird is both researched and developed from interviews the author Russel conducted. Though the first half of the book suffers a bit from a choppy style, Russel makes it clear how Lady Bird was a woman of her times: how this influenced and shaped her relationship with LBJ and with others as well as her perspective on life. Russel offers a fairly full account of the tumultuous times of the 1960s from Bird's perspective as a Southern Lady and the vice- and then, president's wife.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I really liked this biography of a woman who, among many other roles, was the First Lady of the US. Following an icon like Jackie Kennedy must have been difficult but Lady Bird was elegant and had far more substance and class than many of us knew at the time. LBJ was a challenging (understatement) man to be married to as history has shown. Her loyalty, and devotion to him and to her family and country are recounted in a prose that I found engaging and enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    I didn't know much about Lady Bird, and this was a good book to learn the basics about her early life and life with LBJ. What I didn't like: Jan Jarboe did too much psychoanalyzing, and she was constantly making the same point over and over. I also didn't like that the story ended abruptly with LBJ's death. I wanted to know about Lady Bird's life after LBJ. She seemed to come into her own after his death, yet only a few sentences were devoted to that. I didn't know much about Lady Bird, and this was a good book to learn the basics about her early life and life with LBJ. What I didn't like: Jan Jarboe did too much psychoanalyzing, and she was constantly making the same point over and over. I also didn't like that the story ended abruptly with LBJ's death. I wanted to know about Lady Bird's life after LBJ. She seemed to come into her own after his death, yet only a few sentences were devoted to that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    marymurtz

    I did not know much about Lady Bird Johnson and was fascinated by the details of her early life and behind the scenes information. I was repelled by the descriptions of LBJ's personal behavior, and although none of it was a surprise, it was still disgusting. I find it interesting that at the time, LadyBird was considered a "real lady" for overlooking his sins. That wouldn't fly today. Nonetheless, I found myself admiring the woman for her sheer grit, determination and shrewdness. I did not know much about Lady Bird Johnson and was fascinated by the details of her early life and behind the scenes information. I was repelled by the descriptions of LBJ's personal behavior, and although none of it was a surprise, it was still disgusting. I find it interesting that at the time, LadyBird was considered a "real lady" for overlooking his sins. That wouldn't fly today. Nonetheless, I found myself admiring the woman for her sheer grit, determination and shrewdness.

  20. 4 out of 5

    cheri

    Lady Bird did more for the Texas wildflowers than anyone else, and since I love wildflowers she is my hero if for nothing other than that. The biography was easy to read and after reading the autobiography of Katherine Graham I just had to go out and read about Jacqueline Onasis and Lady Bird Johnson. I'm glad I did, I enjoyed both stories. Lady Bird did more for the Texas wildflowers than anyone else, and since I love wildflowers she is my hero if for nothing other than that. The biography was easy to read and after reading the autobiography of Katherine Graham I just had to go out and read about Jacqueline Onasis and Lady Bird Johnson. I'm glad I did, I enjoyed both stories.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Another talented woman of another generation who devoted her life to her husband. Although he seemed to love her, he abused her horribly. She deserved much of the credit for his success. It is touching story that made me alternately mad and sad. My Ttears on the last pages for the LBJ's tragic life and the way it affected her. Another talented woman of another generation who devoted her life to her husband. Although he seemed to love her, he abused her horribly. She deserved much of the credit for his success. It is touching story that made me alternately mad and sad. My Ttears on the last pages for the LBJ's tragic life and the way it affected her.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    After reading a little about the Johnsons from the Kennedy's point of view, I wanted to know more about Lady Bird. I found her strong and spirited, loving and kind. She was a woman ahead of her time as far as first ladies go. My favorite of her contributions will always be the wildflowers along the highway. After reading a little about the Johnsons from the Kennedy's point of view, I wanted to know more about Lady Bird. I found her strong and spirited, loving and kind. She was a woman ahead of her time as far as first ladies go. My favorite of her contributions will always be the wildflowers along the highway.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I like the book for a couple of reasons. The author gave a different perspective on the events that influenced Lady Bird Johnson. I was surprised by some of the descriptions of the political campaigns and the work that both LBJ and Lady Bird did on the 1960 campaign. The other reason I liked the book was the new historical perspective of LBJ from Lady Bird.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    I have always thought of Lady Bird as the quintessential Southern woman. This book was an eye opener for me, as to her background and accomplishments pre LBJ. In Texas she is known for her support of the beautification of Texas Highways. A gracious lady who endured the ugliness of politics and LBJ.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Nix

    I thought Bill Clinton was a BAD BOY - he looks like a choir boy compared to LBJ - Lady Bird was a saint to put up with him and to "chanel" his energy and determination to the greater good???? - another very disfunctional situation! I thought Bill Clinton was a BAD BOY - he looks like a choir boy compared to LBJ - Lady Bird was a saint to put up with him and to "chanel" his energy and determination to the greater good???? - another very disfunctional situation!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edith

    What an amazing woman! My father always had a strong interest in LBJ even though, alas, the Vietnam War brought him down. But how this strong, patient woman loved her Lyndon, supported him, and put up with him impressed me immensely.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I purchased the audiobook and finished it in two days because I really enjoyed it. Lady Bird Johnson was a giving and classy woman. I admire how she carried herself through so many hardships and how she maintained a positive outlook in the face of some tough criticism.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    Enjoyed thoroughly! Well written bio about a true Texas woman who changed our nations highways & byways, leaving the nation more beautiful because she cared.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vita

    My Notes: I was on page 92. A great book. I plan on finishing, but I have other books beckoning my attention.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joy H.

    She put up with a lot from LBJ. A gracious lady.

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