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Landslide by Jonathan Darman
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Landslide

LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America

$35.00 USD

Get for $14.99 with membership
Narrator Will Damron
Length 14 hours 37 minutes
Language English
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Summary

In politics, the man who takes the highest spot after a landslide is not standing on solid ground.
 
In this riveting work of narrative nonfiction, Jonathan Darman tells the story of two giants of American politics, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, and shows how, from 1963 to 1966, these two men—the same age, and driven by the same heroic ambitions—changed American politics forever.
 
The liberal and the conservative. The deal-making arm twister and the cool communicator. The Texas rancher and the Hollywood star. Opposites in politics and style, Johnson and Reagan shared a defining impulse: to set forth a grand story of America, a story in which he could be the hero. In the tumultuous days after the Kennedy assassination, Johnson and Reagan each, in turn, seized the chance to offer the country a new vision for the future. Bringing to life their vivid personalities and the anxious mood of America in a radically transformative time, Darman shows how, in promising the impossible, Johnson and Reagan jointly dismantled the long American tradition of consensus politics and ushered in a new era of fracture. History comes to life in Darman’s vivid, fly-on-the wall storytelling.
 
Even as Johnson publicly revels in his triumphs, we see him grow obsessed with dark forces he believes are out to destroy him, while his wife, Lady Bird, urges her husband to put aside his paranoia and see the world as it really is. And as the war in Vietnam threatens to overtake his presidency, we witness Johnson desperately struggling to compensate with ever more extravagant promises for his Great Society.
 
On the other side of the country, Ronald Reagan, a fading actor years removed from his Hollywood glory, gradually turns toward a new career in California politics. We watch him delivering speeches to crowds who are desperate for a new leader. And we see him wielding his well-honed instinct for timing, waiting for Johnson’s majestic promises to prove empty before he steps back into the spotlight, on his long journey toward the presidency.
 
From Johnson’s election in 1964, the greatest popular-vote landslide in American history, to the pivotal 1966 midterms, when Reagan burst forth onto the national stage, Landslide brings alive a country transformed—by riots, protests, the rise of television, the shattering of consensus—and the two towering personalities whose choices in those moments would reverberate through the country for decades to come.
 
Praise for Landslide
 
“Richly detailed . . . Landslide is a vivid retelling of a tumultuous three years in American history, and Mr. Darman captures in full the personalities and motives of two of the twentieth century’s most consequential politicians.”The New York Times
 
“Novel and even surprising . . . Landslide deftly reminds readers that Johnson and Reagan both trafficked in grandiose oratory and promoted utopian visions at odds with the social complexity of modern America.”The Washington Post
 
“Riveting . . . Darman portrays [Johnson and Reagan] as polar opposites of political attraction. . . . Animated by the artful insight that they were men of disappointment headed toward an appointment with history . . . A tale about myths and a nation that believed them, about a world of a half century ago now gone forever.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Alert to the subtleties of politics and political history, Darman, a former correspondent for Newsweek, nimbly explores delusion and self-delusion at the highest levels.”—The New York Times Book Review

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Reviews

“Richly detailed . . . Landslide is a vivid retelling of a tumultuous three years in American history, and [Jonathan] Darman captures in full the personalities and motives of two of the twentieth century’s most consequential politicians.”The New York Times
 
“Novel and even surprising . . . Landslide deftly reminds readers that Johnson and Reagan both trafficked in grandiose oratory and promoted utopian visions at odds with the social complexity of modern America.”The Washington Post
 
“Riveting . . . Darman portrays [Johnson and Reagan] as polar opposites of political attraction. . . . Animated by the artful insight that they were men of disappointment headed toward an appointment with history . . . A tale about myths and a nation that believed them, about a world of a half century ago now gone forever.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Alert to the subtleties of politics and political history, Darman, a former correspondent for Newsweek, nimbly explores delusion and self-delusion at the highest levels.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Darman] has a deft grasp of Reagan’s and Johnson’s biographies and of the last half-century of American political history. Setting the book as a dual story . . . both rescues the story from the fatalism (for Johnson) and pluck (for Reagan) of biography and refreshes both of their stories by contrasting the simultaneous reversals of their respective political fortunes.”The Daily Beast
 
“Darman’s compelling, sweeping narrative explores the myths that Johnson and Reagan invented about themselves. . . . Reminiscent of such spellbinders as Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm . . . and Jeff Shesol’s Mutual Contempt. . . . This title will engross readers of political history.”Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Smart and perceptive . . . Darman sizes up the careers of two political powerhouses and craftsmen, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan, while claiming that each man’s impressive litany of achievements influenced the historical arc of American leadership. . . . Darman’s sincere and informative approach animates these historic figures, bringing them from the nostalgia of old TV clips and fading newsprint to the forefront of an engaging historical discussion.”Publishers Weekly
 
“A rich, fly-on-the-wall narrative. If the current partisan gridlock has you pulling your hair out, this book will help you understand where these ripples originate.”Booklist
 
“An intimate chronicle of the 1,000 days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, during which there was a sea change in the American electorate. . . . The author masterfully conveys LBJ’s agony, as well as former actor Reagan’s freewheeling spirit: He was the ‘Errol Flynn of the B movies’ who had aged out of his previous roles and needed a new gig as an American hero. Ambitious, studious portraits pulled together nicely by Darman.”Kirkus Reviews

“Jonathan Darman turns fresh eyes on two political giants of the late twentieth century, LBJ and Ronald Reagan. Landslide is full of surprises and new insights on these two presidents, and is written with flair. A delicious feast of a read.”—Lesley Stahl

“Masterly . . . In taking us back to a moment in American history when politics worked, Jonathan Darman provides a resonant reality check on a system that now seems all too dysfunctional. The intertwined stories of Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan offer us a window on the intrinsic give-and-take that makes governing possible. Anyone who cares about politics, biography, and current affairs will find this a delightful and illuminating book.”—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
 
“Jonathan Darman writes with power, sweep, vivacity, and humor. He is at once a gifted storyteller, a keen judge of character, and a genie of political insight. He gives us two giants, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, in all their glory and human vanity, and takes us on a breathtaking thousand-day ride. The relevance to today will be achingly obvious to readers—who will be both riveted and disturbed by this moving, memorable book.”—Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff and Robert Kennedy

“An ingenious and compelling book . . . With astute psychological insight, Jonathan Darman explains the motivations and achievements of these two men, how Lyndon Johnson’s downfall paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s rise, and how their overarching visions of governing became myths that defined the Republican and Democratic parties. Darman connects the dots between the lives of these two iconic characters in a dramatic and original way, offering a fresh perspective as he sweeps the reader through the events of the tumultuous sixties that reverberate to this day.”—Sally Bedell Smith, author of Elizabeth the Queen and Grace and Power Expand reviews