Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The American Experience

  • LBJ
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: Jr. High to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $99.95 Home use: $39.95 Series (public): $550.00
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Johnson, Lyndon Baines. United States - History - 20th century. Presidents - United States. Texas - History.
  • Production Information: Live action. Produced by David Grubin. Videos: 2. Color. Also available in Beta. 280 min.
  • Production Company: WGBH (Boston) WNET (New York) KCET-TV (Los Angeles)
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • ISBN: ISBN 0-7936-0626-8.
  • Cataloging: 973.923 Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973||Presidents - United States - Biography||Biographical films
  • Print Entry #: 3:431
  • Reviewer: Will K. Covington

    LBJ - initials that evoke memories of the turbulent times in the 1960s when President Lyndon Baines Johnson tried to propel America to greatness. Volumes have been written and recorded about this enigmatic and paradoxical political persona. LBJ, a two-tape program from The American Experience series, purports to be the definitive work on our 36th president. In four hours, this fascinating and compelling biography presents the ultimate American experience - a rags-to-riches success story.

    The first segment, "Beautiful Texas," describes Johnson's rise to power in national politics, beginning in the late 1930s and culminating with the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Johnson's ascension to the presidency. Part two, "My Fellow Americans," chronicles Johnson's completion of Kennedy's term as he attempted to establish a Kennedy legacy as well as one for himself. However, his greatest challenge - Vietnam - loomed ahead. Johnson desperately wanted to attend to a domestic agenda including such major initiatives as a war on poverty, building a "great society," and constraining a burgeoning civil rights movement, but the other war would not allow him to fulfill his chosen destiny.

    In part three, "We Shall Overcome," Johnson tries to balance the two fronts. Elected of his own accord in 1964, he escalated the overseas war while distracting the American people with an avalanche of domestic programs and legislation. Five days after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, riots erupted in the Watts section of Los Angeles, portending four long, hot summers of death and destruction. Coupled with a growing antiwar movement, the problems seemed insurmountable to everyone except Johnson. "The Last Believer," the final segment of this biographical masterpiece, portrays Johnson's declining popularity as the war dragged on and the mood of the country shifted from equal rights to law and order. Not seeking reelection, Johnson would remain in office for ten painful months, a "reign of terror" that witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy and a country torn apart by growing social and political conflict. With no hail or farewell, Johnson faded into the Texas sunset to live out his life as a broken and dejected man. Five days after his death in January 1973, the Vietnam War, which had haunted him throughout his presidency, ended.

    Several hundred words cannot do justice to this video; the sole complaint is that it is too long. Some judicious editing would greatly enhance the visual splendor and overwhelming message. Johnson was truly an American in every sense of the word. He symbolized American politics during his years in power and this program remains relevant today in light of the current controversies surrounding such Johnson creations as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Headstart.

    LBJ is highly recommended for all secondary, college, and public library collections. The price is right, and because it makes for such intriguing viewing, it will serve as the definitive political biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson for years to come.

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