tv Julia Sweig Lady Bird Johnson CSPAN May 29, 2021 10:00am-11:06am EDT
>> joining is moderator this evening is dr. betty sue flowers, professor of the university of texas austin and in addition to her academic pursuits over the course of her career dr. flowers served to consultant to nasa and secretary of the navy shell international in london. she's also published 3 books, poetry. program lost an hour including 15 minutes for questions and answers. your questions can be submitted
via the q&a function on your zoom screen. in the interest of simplicity, the chat function tonight. please remember to use the q&a, our speakers will get to as many questions as time allows. now it is my great pleasure to turn our virtual stage over to tonight's speakers. thank you. >> thank you, louis, such a more to be with you. we are lucky to have lydia with us. the new york times reviewed twice. she's written in the atlantic and vanity fair. there's a lot of press and we are grateful to you being with us tonight.
you heard louis on books on cuba and latin america. how does someone who has written about latin mean foreign affairs, how do you end up writing a book about lady bird johnson and did i listen to the podcast which i recommend to all of you society members, all of you. it's really so beautifully produced and julia narrates it so i ask our technical people to please play the first part of the trailer to the podcast as it answers the question i would have asked is how did she come from foreign affairs to lady byrd johnson. >> it all began so beautifully.
>> inside a dime lit book in austin texas, a motion sensor delivers recording. >> in the car president and secret services car and then our car lyndon and me. >> the voice of lady bird johnson, the wife of lyndon johnson. >> we are in the curb and then there was a turn. >> i needed to know more about what i was hearing. >> one last look over my shoulder and saw mrs. kennedy lying over the president's body. >> i decided to dig deeper. i'm julia sweig and i lived in washington, d.c. for a while, working and writing about
history. dc is focused mostly on power and influence and now there has certainly been powerful influential women in the white house, eleanor, hillary, michelle. but turns out lady bird recorded her entire experience in the white house hours and hours of tape that almost no one has ever heard. and those tapes, they end up rewriting history. of course, the 1960's have been dissected and what i found in the dairies is surprising and new. >> 9-page analysis. this is the story of power of political partnership. one that somehows doesn't show up in many accounts of lbj presidency. >> i think it was a little too
fast. i'd say it was a good b plus, how do you feel about it? >> i thought it was much better than last week. a partnership she recorded as she and lyndon tried to navigate the turmoil of the 1960 from political upheaval to race riot. >> i don't know why it should upset her. i was telling her the truth. >> i felt extreme hostility. was it because i was alive? >> i don't believe i was the physical and mexico strength to carry the responsibility. >> much talk of the big question, he wants to get out,
the program they called beautification. >> ic you know what falls behind the inadequate word. >> abc audio, this is in plain sight. this season i'm looking at the untold story of lady bird johnson, activist, one of the most influential members of the johnson administration. even if we never saw it. >> thank you, julia. it does answer the question how you got so intrigued with lady bird. i also think your book is important for another reason which is it's looking at power from the perspective of not just the great men of history but of
how people worked together to get things done. i wonder if you can talk about that a little and maybe connected to sigh you subtitled the book, hiding in plain sight. >> thank you, betty sue for the wonderful introduction and louis i'm delighted to be here with the historical society tonight. there's a step before i answer the question of hiding in plain sight which i would like to add which is i wanted to write a book about women in power before i discovered lady bird johnson and that guy out of having spent so many years in foreign policies, rooms that were predominantly populated by men and being historian and writing about foreign policy and seeing the way the focus on the presidency especially and in foreign policy is very focused on a handful of individuals in
the white house making decisions and i was interested in that topic broadly as you describe it and went to lbj library. it captivated me and kept my attention for quite a while and she tells us you say a story of partnership and of collaborative power which is not something that we associate with lyndon johnson. we associate the word power with him but not really collaboration with a female partner in the
white house and so there's two pieces to the subtitle. one is lady bird herself who many of us thought we knew and understood but didn't. and also the source material, those dairies, the audio, that material which was at the library for quite a long time and then has been now fully released so it's the double -- the double sense of the term. >> you know, she published the 800-page based on the dairies but many parts of what you uncovered she had marked and it was one reason they weren't open until ten years after her death. so in a way, that doesn't tell the whole story. i just wonder what part she marked. it was a best seller at the time. >> yes.
>> the white house dairy. >> but i'm just curious as to what you would say the key difference is between her book and what you discover listening to the tape. >> the key difference is that she was -- she went through the process of having dairy, audio recordings transcribed before they left the white house and when she got back to the ranch, went to the process of editing. by 1970, publishing 800 pages, she's putting this together pretty quickly. 1910 is two areas after they left the white house. she's editing out for many people that are still alive, political tensions with bobby kennedy especially, on going dialogue with lbj about night ma'am and includes things about the daughters and leaves out things about family life and she least out, i think, -- and i'm
not sure why, perhaps you have insight, elements of her key influence and decision-making with lbj about the arc of his presidency. >> she was a ma sure person that she didn't need the credit. >> it's certainly her gender and not needing the credit and also being invested in lbj's presidency. she did describe it as our presidency. but she was also a woman of her time and i think -- is it
possible that she didn't actually give herself the credit that we are seeing see now deserves because of the deflection and modest by that was baked in. >> every day. i mean, of us that try to keep journals, know how difficult it is. >> she knew how important history was and her participation in it. >> yes. yes. so i don't she undervalued her influence but -- in fact, they had a good cop and bad cop. he would chose someone out and she said, she doesn't mean it.
they were always on the telephone. maybe you can show the slide of the picture. >> yes. >> what do you see in this. i just love this picture? >> one of my most favorite perhaps, there are thousands and thousands of photographs to look at the library. this one i see as a picture of partnership and slightly different balance of power between the two of them. you know, they traded -- they were on the phone doing business together, doing political business together, handing the phone back and forth to one another all of the time. but here we see that -- that relaxed expression, they're looking at one another in the eye. lbj clearly trusts her totally. they are doing politics together and she is making something happen. i sometimes think that she might be the originator of what we know as the johnson treatment, only with a softer touch because
look at how sure herself is and look at how together they are in their partnership. >> yeah, it worked the other way too. people who wanted something from johnson would often go to her to run interference. the east wing of the white house is at least as busy as the west wing even if it was focused slightly differently. >> it was a different political operation at the end of the day. i think i want to say one more thing betty sue about the date of this which is it's december 1963, so they are just back to the ranch after the horrific day in dallas and moving into presidency and it's a busy time for them because they feel this sense of urgency of building the right narrative together and establish that lbj is capable of unifying the country. it's also a time when there was
no vice president. there was no vice president until almost a year later when hubert and lbj are inaugurated in january of '65 so here i think you also see another level of partnership where she's stepping in to fill a void when he becomes president. >> in fact, as you point out in your book, several editorials suggested actually she would be a pretty good vice president. >> yes, she was on the poverty tours in kentucky at one point, more than one editorial but in this one said, lbj, look no further, you have the perfect person. how about lbj ticket and the traveling press corp called her vice president only sort of joking. >> i think so too. i think probably that phone call
might have been to one of the major newspapers or -- >> it was. let me just -- since it's a webinar which is a seminar, i'm just going to go back and tell you who they are calling because this is, i think, they are on the phone with scotty westin and frank -- i might have that wrong. they are, in fact, calling the journalists and calling senior people in the media. >> i'm not a bit surprised and i loved that shirt, i loved the shirt he she has on with the card joker on it. one thing she never took herself too seriously. she took what they were up to seriously but not herself. >> christmas day 1963, their call list included dwight eisenhower, robert and scotty, the reporter at "the new york
times", walter litman, columnist in washington post, covering their basis. >> it's interesting because she's mostly remembered, if you remember her at all, the younger generation as connected with this kind of strange word beautification but one of the great things your book does is explain and show beautification is not a simple thing and here is a picture that beautification committee. >> this is in april of 1967, so now she's 3 years in to the white house and the concept of beautification has kind of grown substantially and her ambition is revealing itself. beautification is really of
euphemism of environmental agenda, an agenda that does include planting flowers along the highway and beautifying and cleaning up the roadsides but for her it comes to mean what we would talk about environmental justice today especially in american cities and in washington, d.c. you see she's looking at the tourist and monument areas of washington, d.c. here but where she is -- who she has in the room shows that her project was actually about broadening access to nature in american cities for the most underserved citizens of the cities. next to her is secretary of interior. on the her side lawrence rockefeller whose face you can't see who is bending over who was a very important environmentalist and philanthropist and big supporter and behind her, mind to udell's
shoulder a man with a beard, that was landscape architect who wound up designing the fdr monument in the mall and massive and desegregated public park for washington's black residents which at the time in 1960 was a completely revolutionary, completely revolutionary and really quite radical. not a word that you associate with lady bird johnson. >> yeah, i think there's a recent book and i think you mention it in your book about integrated -- as soon as integration happened with swimming pools, recreation areas, they were just closed down rather than allowing integration to happen so this was really running against the tide there. >> and she was, of course, devoted -- to jump in. she was a discipline swimmer herself and the idea of a big
public swimming hole in an american city, of course, you have that in austin today thanks to her, but also in washington, d.c., the idea of an urban pool that would have been several hundred times the size of a swimming pool dug into a little island that was ins of the anacasia river that the local residents, meaning black residents would have access to. that's what she was trying to pull off. >> highly political undertaking. what's your assessment of how successful her beautification efforts were? how would you good day them as she use today grade -- >> i'd give them more than a b plus. [laughter] >> in terms of -- let's start with federal freeways. it is true that when she came into the white house, it was after the eisenhower
administration big push to build freeways all over the country, interstate highway system and those were built with no care for esthetics, this is the time when there really was garbage and junk wards all over the freeway and they were built interrupting neighborhoods, entrances and exits of cities where often poor people lived were destroyed as a result. so that's on the highway front and certainly texas and around the country you see today that the public has engaged that consciousness. then in american cities it gets to be more complicated. of course, what she's pointing out there and what we see every
spring an incredible legacy. cherry blossoms, it's gorgeous. not just -- but in terms of trying to marry civil rights and environmental justice in the poorest part of american cities, that's an enormously heavy lift. it's something that we struggle with today and she in that sense was very conscious of the sound side of urban renewal and how many people were displaced, people of color were displaced because of it and the vision that she had i think is still coming in american cities, we are still dealing with access to nature and access to fair housing and access to equity for the poorest among us. >> and i think -- and you talk
about this in the book, she has a deep feeling about how beauty empowers you, power and beauty go together in her lexicon and she felt as if -- if people in a neighborhood worked together to beautify it, they would be empowered in all kinds of other ways too. >> that's true. she put her finger on something that neuroscience has subsequently identified which is precisely that our relationship to our built environment and is very important to how we feel about ourselves and we can't build without regard to humanity and that she felt in her bones. the local participation in this case, in her case in beautification to go back to
that word is something orientmental not fundamental. >> i think you're right. she had a big feeling after that. notice that she's not staring off into the space in a sort of distracted way. she is right there. >> she has dairy entry, a summit with the soviets. she didn't talk about what they did talk about. she doesn't always give us exactly the substance of the conversation. but you see here, she's in the room where it happens even
though it's on air force one. >> yeah. but i love your -- you quote jackie kennedy talking about how she -- you might tell society members that story. i really love that. >> i tell that story. in 1960 after the johnson made the decision to join the kennedy ticket, they met -- the two campaigns met and jackie was sort -- found lady bird confusing because lady bird can sit on the couch with jackie and jackie's sister-in-law and she
would carry notes. squabbingy said, it was the most peculiar way for a husband and wife to work together. she was like a hunting dog and they completely missed point. she wasn't a trained hunting dog, she was a member of the team. >> i think that went back to maybe before he was vice president. >> john: son just didn't agree with some of the decisions -- he didn't agree with some of the decisions he thought robert kennedy didn't quit know what he was talking about when he first got into it and so that's the
most complicated relationship. >> it's complicated and i do spend time on it because it has its own arc in the thread of the book and the stories together and the way they intertwine. the two of them orchestrate, lady kennedy and johnson, jackie and her children leaving in those 14 days between november 22nd and december 6th, 1963 and as jackie gets some distance and leaves washington and goes to new york, she, i think, start to have, i mean, i can't even begin to speak to the trauma that she's dealing with but from distance is placed in the families and the johnsons
try to keep up with her. by the time bobby kennedy's assassination, it's really not the -- the warmth that they might have felt and expressed to one another at the time. we see that and feel it vividly at st. patrick's cathedral on the day of funeral between jackie and lady bird. it's something that i wrote about and are able to document and provide the audio to in the podcast. but this is something that i wished -- i will just say as a side note. i put an ad out there in the martha vineyard's gazette when i started the research because i wanted to talk to anybody that might have been present for any of the lady bird and jackie encounters because they did get together and reconstitute the relationship in 1980's and would spend a day each summer for several years. >> yeah, i think jackie was very
-- she was good at telling stories herself. she orchestrated and that myth, lady bird wouldn't have a part in the myth like that no matter who was orchestrating it. >> they were skillful in keeping an eye on the husbands' legacies. >> the dairies and with her very early on you know because you let the library but early on in the presidency beginning to think about the library and beginning to lay out the process for collecting materials, conducting oral histories, finding an architect. she was very devote today her husband and her husband's legacy as jack we was to her. >> she's the one that made the decision to open the telephone
tape which telephone tapes were kind of secret and no one knew what was in them really when she geed to have them open. >> that was 1995, it was well before she had to. she could have waited and left them closed for another two more decades almost and i think you're right about that. a tremendous act of trust and commitment to transparency, to open us up and let the chips fall where it may in terms of telling the president's history. >> lbj said he wanted history told with the bark off, let it hang out and history would decide. they had sense of history in a profound way. i love how in your book you don't elevate her to the extent of him, you really do -- you
really do a great analysis to have intertwining of the two. i think she would have liked your book and another -- not in a way other books that might downgrade them to upgrade her. you don't do that, you show the intertwining of power but also you show his need for her which is very, very interesting. could you talk about that a little because that is truly behind the scenes and probably some of the things that she would have cut had she been in charge of the book? >> yes, there's one very special scene that comes to mind and thank you for saying that. i worked really hard, lady bird wrote in 1995 to another author, you'll never understand us if you don't first get, i'm paraphrasing how totally intertwined we are.
i tried to take her at face value and take her work for it. he needed her and this has to do with this kind of duality of both insecurity and ambition and charisma and anxiety. this is a personality of somebody who was so high energy and so committed to a certain vision for the country but who was racked with self-doubt almost simultaneously and that particularly -- it comes out repeatedly over the course of the presidency but there's a scene on october 12th, 1965 that in her dairies she marked close for ten years and then review and it's the story of that takes place at the naval hospital in the after math of his
gallbladder service. the time when he shows that scar to the press and it's kind of obnoxious and vulgar and memorialized the horrible -- just telling cartoon by david levin, scar in the shape of vietnam and the vietnam war is escalating. it's only october 1965 and the lbj presidency is quite popular. he goes in for gallbladder surgery. he has to stay in 2 weeks. that's how big of a deal the surgery was at the time. she moved in the hospital with him and after several days he's doing very well. he signs 13 pieces of legislation from the hospital with lots of fanfare, all on the domestic front. so she leaves for the day and has meeting with art curator and
goes bowling, she does her thing, she signs paper and drives back to the bethesda naval hospital and walks into his hospital room and he's sitting there with aide, associate justice of the people court but long-standing adviser to the johnsons and lyndon is in misery and he's asking abe to write out his statement of resignation and he's describing to lyndon and lady bird and abe really his depression. she describes it as the black beast of depression and says i can't look at one more piece of paper. i had 18 task forces. they might want to impeach me. they might want me to resign. i just want to go back to the ranch. i don't want to talk to hubert. it gives you a window to a
couple of things. one is the burdens of the presidency. how oppressive it can be to have that much power and responsibility. but the second thing is to your question, how much he needed her to help pull him out of those bouts of depression which came periodically and often after great achievement. >> yes, you tell that story so well. you can just see that and the scene of him being depressed and her coming in to the rescue and sometimes his doctors would call her, come back, come back and certainly all of the staff would, that's repeated again and again. >> that's true. >> given the wonderful instance of it. that's not the only instance in
which rides into the rescue of this powerful, needy person. >> yes, i think he draws tremendous -- this sounds cliché, but this is the president of the united states who drew tremendous strength and power from his partner, fortunately they had been married for quite a long time before he became the president of the united states and she had practice with his personality and knew what he was capable of and she knew he knew him that well, of course. >> yes, he seemed to know immediately because he asked her to marry her on the first date. >> a good eye for low-ego people. >> that's true, very true. yeah. he needed not to be competed with. and i think she did help him in terms of policy too with the
possible exception of vietnam and you say in the book that she didn't -- she crossed him on a lot of things and completely disagree and if she disagreed, she would let him know. why not? >> well, i don't know if i'm correct about this but any read of it is that she kind of shared his blinders on vietnam and, you know, they were both -- they both kind of grew up with world war ii and the idea of betraying one allies and giving up something to the communist, that was unthinkable. they were also fdr people. they were new deal democrats and so in the geo political cosmology and the idea of losing a country far away in the middle
of the cold war, that was unthinkable, but it was also unthinkable for two other reasons, one positive and one negative. the positive one was from their own experience with underdevelopment in texas and lbj bringing electrification to texas, they had this kind of belief that it was possible to project their experience onto some part of the country half a world away. that's a very -- that's very much part of the american brain. that's the positive. the negative is they were doing a political balancing act domestically and under pressure as soon as they came into the white house to escalate the war, pressure by the kennedy team that he kept and also pressure by hawks and they felt that in order to domestically, to get their civil rights and their great society programs through, they had to show themselves to
be tough internationally. >> go ahead. >> i was just going to say, i think that that's how -- that's the framing that i've given it and so her -- her perspective on vietnam doesn't really start to change until she confronts the antiwar movement with her -- until she's up in new england on american campuses at williams and gale to inaugurate environmental studies that she's proud to associate herself and she's totally drowned out by antiwar protestors and the last point, timing wise, with both her daughters, linda's fiance getting ready to deport to vietnam, she's hosting wounded veterans in the white house.
the johnsons, as the family starts to touch and feel the ravages of the war much more up close and personal. >> yeah, your book start and end with an assassination. start with the assassination of j.f.k. and towards the end rfk. what -- this is a very complex picture. there's a lot going on here. could you just end our time together before we go to questions talking about this picture? >> this photograph was taken by komodo, the white house staff photographer. a lot of the photos that we have seen of his is black and white but this one turns out to be available in color. this is on june 7th, 1968.
it's the day after bobby kennedy's assassination. she was assassinated on the fifth and died on the sixth. the seventh is the one day that they have before the eighth when they are going to go up to new york for the funeral at st. patrick's cathedral. sitting on my left, on everybody's left is madame shumatav, who is there with lbj to paint his portrait. this is astonishing to me that they kept this appointment. if you can just imagine the tension and the anxiety and the fear and the exhaustion around this tragedy in the white house on that day but it's 1968 and they still don't have a presidential portrait of lbj, the first one that was done by peter ward they don't like in 1965 and for the johnsons the specter of becoming
incapacitated in office hangs over their head. woodrow wilson's experience especially. they wind upkeeping this appointment. so two more details about it, though. when i see this, i see lady bird sitting in the corner as the executive producer of the lbj presidency orchestrating this moment animating l bj and has a smile in his face and she's holding something in his hand which is a letter by son-in-law and he has moment of reading those letters sitting for his portrait with his wife keeping him boosted the day before he's going to go up to the -- the funeral service where he's going to bury perhaps his most significant political rival, bobby kennedy.
>> yeah. so moving. >> very moving. >> it's really incredible. >> did you speak to lady bird's daughters in connection with the book, have they or other members of the johnson family read your book, if so, how did they respond to your portrayal of mrs. johnson and her husband? >> well, i would like to know how they are going to respond to the book. the book is only out this week, so hopefully i will get some feedback from them soon and sorry i'm distracted, our dog walked in and jumped on the couch. [laughter] >> i -- so i'm looking forward to hearing about their
reactions. i ask to sit with the daughters to interview them and they chose not to -- to do that. >> this is related, i think, was lady bird a feminist or say anything about the women's liberation movement of the 60's? >> excellent question. i'm so glad that you asked. lady bird comes out as a feminist in 1977 and at the houston national conference for women. so now almost ten years since she's left the white house but i see her as a secret feminist all along. she wasn't -- i look at her focus on women especially in 1964 before she had taken up her environmental agenda. her feminism in the doing --
ultimate multi-tasker and devoted to professional women and hosted an old-fashion term. the doers luncheons. she had luncheons, maybe 15 of them over her course in the white house specifically focused on promoting women professionals. she gave a great speech, in june of 1964 to the ratcliffe graduates, all women, of course, and i wished some of you should just google and read the speech because she talks about becoming the total women. she talks about how women not only can but have a duty to have families and husbands and participate politically and have professions. what is that if not feminism? yes, i think she was a feminist but of her generation there were many women who were but weren't active as such. of course, 1963 is when betty
publishes her book, the feminine speak, lady bird gives incredibly worded speech in 1965 where she is trying to tell an alabama audience of white women, you know, get up and do. that feeling that you're feeling, is the feeling of doing nothing. go do. i always feel better when i'm doing and she rouses them to breakthrough significant gender barriers in the south. >> yeah. >> she had on her desk at the library, she had -- president johnson had given her, can do. she had that right on her desk and he gave her a gift of 50 signing pips for 50 bills that he had done on her behalf. he would call the lady bird's
bills. i think she appreciated the -- being recognized for doing. she didn't care that much for clothes although she knew she had to go get them in new york. >> she was kind of a tomboy growing up. >> yeah. >> she had a hard time stepping herself in clothes that women were expected to wear at the time when she was growing up and her life of the mind was very, very active. you know, she was the reader, she -- of course, we didn't talk about college education but she was a history and journalism major. she was very active in promoting other women too. it's just that she didn't necessarily wrap herself in the feminist flag until later and she says, i used to think that the women's movement was for my daughters but now i realize that
it's for all of us. >> yeah. >> her good friend and press secretary liz carpenter was driving forces with the era. >> yeah. >> she couldn't have escaped liz egging her on for sure. >> proud of texas having passed the era. >> yes, yes. here is another question, what is the legacy of beautification, clean water act, any ongoing efforts today that can be traced back to her initiative? >> well, i think that the public consciousness raisingness that she achieved especially in early 70's. when richard nixon comes into office, that's when the mixons and the johnsons go up to the redwood forest in northern california together to
inaugurate the national redwood forest and nixon gives us a speech and credits lady bird and puts her in line with teddy roosevelt as one of the most important conservationists and environmentalists of the country. in 1970, that's when nixon create it is environmental protection agency for the first time and 1970's was first celebrated on earth day. of course, at the local level. you talked, betty, before about local participation and beautification. i took to many people whom lady bird pushed on beautification and keep america beautiful shifted the consciousness. she was pushing for local laws being changed to upgrade environmental protections at the very local level.
>> yes. yes. >> she was such a political animal, right. she believed politics starting on a rope line and at the very local level. >> yes, as you point out, she knew the names of all the towns in texas, county political directors, the dogcatchers. i mean, she memorized their name. she reached out to them. >> yeah, she did. >> she knew the value of the local. how do you think lady bird would have been received as a first lady today, is one of the questions here? >> well, certify in such different era today in some ways and some ways not. i think that lady bird would have adapted to our time because she had the character as you say, she had the skill set, she had the sensibility, she had the
ambition, she had the values that she had and those would have transported quite well to today. she wouldn't have been the -- she probably would have had -- i see her as the bridge between eleanor roosevelt and the first ladies of today. she's really the first modern first lady. so if we transplant her into 2021, i think she would have been able to be as modernist. she was then but not have to conceal it quite well so much. >> yes. i agree completely. there's another related question about that, have any of the first ladies of 1968 to the present day publicly recognized lady bird johnson as an spin airation for how they conducted themselves and their roles? >> yes, i think almost all of them have in one way or the other.
most of them don't have knowledge of how much before that and they can get how deeply involved she was in the johnson administration. other first ladies had been given a hard time about that and doing in 1960's, empower those today and those in the future as well. >> completely agree. here is another, are there any public monuments to lady bird johnson, if not, where would you envision the type of monument and what would it look like? >> the construction of monuments is such a hot topic. there's living monuments, of course, in austin and that's
town lake and all of the beautiful urban parks and pathways that lady bird campaigned to have built, that's her definition of bringing access to nature to american cities and there's also the lady bird wild flower center. one can go in there and see lots of wild flowers but center of environmental education where climate mitigation and climate change is big part and parcel of what taught there so we can get a sense of her environmental agenda by going to the wild flower center. on the way to national airport here in washington, d.c. where i live, right adjacent to lyndon b johnson grove, there's a small monument to lady bird johnson but not that many people stop there because it's hard to get there. so where would lady bird johnson memorial be? i can't give you an answer off
the top of my head. it's such an excellent question. i think the library, lbj library perhaps could be renamed to lady bird johnson and lyndon b johnson library because it certainly is a testament to her. he might not -- well, different reasons. [laughter] >> okay. >> it was not after she died. she was responsible in part and so was he. >> right. >> so it's as of to say even after death, both of them, you can imagine their jointly shared decisions in relations to things like monuments. when i think a monument to lady bird, mrs. johnson as we called her, i think of how we made a
mistake in her funeral because we will had timed it all to her funeral and burial at the ranch and we timed everything just exactly right, how long it would take to drive those up to the ranch and we completely underestimated how long it would take because we thought after we got outside the city limits, we could speed up and slow down but people were lining the highways all the way, so we had to drive at funeral speed all the way to the ranch and people holding wild flowers all along the highway and cowboys with their -- cowboy hats over their hearts. to me the monument to lady bird kind of is in the hearts of people and the beauty around -- i remember being in a taxi in washington, d.c. and the taxi driver had no idea i had
anything to do with the lbj library and said, see those flowers, that's lady bird. he said that. i think her monument is alive, alive. it's living and even long -- >> also in the national parks, also in the national parks. we haven't talked about that. >> all the parks. >> a great deal of time promoting national parks and the creation of new ones and encouraging americans to take their vacations to see america in those national parks. i think about her every time i go to raise national seashore. this is where my parents live and i go there a lot. but she's got a big stamp on our culture in this country of appreciating our -- our national parks as monuments, monuments to natural beauty. we forget that. >> we didn't mention -- and
there's a monument -- >> do we have time? >> we have half a minute. >> lady bird johnson closed the deal on acquiring the collection of joseph, art that is in the museum that's part of smithsonian today and story that takes place in 1965 and she and joseph had a wonderful relationship and she really was absolutely essential. she went to connecticut and brought him to the white house and he made the decision. she even called bob and said, i need that piece of land on the mall that has some defense building and he said, okay, you can have it. thank you for reminding me. >> there's so many monuments that people -- >> yes. >> well, we've run out of time and i wanted to conclude by playing one of my favorite clips
from the telephone tape. and you know when you hear this that lady bird had no idea that she was being recorded. lbj had telephone tapes and he would forget to turn them off. he would forget to turn them off. this was taped on a day when the second gulf thing happened, they thought at first that it was a real attack, it was when they found the bodies of 3 slain civil rights workers. before he announced anything, he needed to find goldwater who was running against him and goldwater was in the middle of the lake and couldn't be found and wasn't home for supper. and lady bird helped him as you say in your book all the way through when he was a senator, she would invite people home for
dinner. so in this sort of 45-second tape you can hear her call him and you can hear that, you know, be sure to bring the -- this is late at night. i wanted to end with the lovely thing and shows their relationship so if we could end with this tape and thank you, julia. >> thank you, betty sue. >> i just wanted to see when you were alone. that's all. no, they left at 3:30 this afternoon, dear. [inaudible] >> because they didn't have a moment. >> any other news? >> nothing -- >> goldwater to come over as soon as he gets through.
>> honey. >> bring anyone who wants to eat or otherwise be doing without supper with you, bye. >> bye. >> i want to thank everybody here. thank you, julia, thank you for all of the society member that is came tonight. i recommend that you buy the book. i recommend you listen to the podcast and it's just been a great evening, thank you. >> thank you, thank you for a great conversation and thanks to all of you. ♪ ♪
♪ >> during a virtual event fox news martha mccallum discussed battle of hiroshima. >> i started telling him the story of being a little girl and going to my grandfather's attic and finding letters written by my mother's first cousin gray who was killed when he was 18. from a young age i would read the letters, they moved me to tears. if i'm going to put the time into writing a book, i want it to be a book about something that i'm going to learn a ton researching and i spent the next 3 years researching hiroshima
and learning about the battle and immersing myself in this one battle from the pacific from world war ii and i learned so much about harry and i ended up learning about the men that were there. >> tell me about harry? >> he was from arlington, massachusetts, father died when he was 12, he quickly became the young man of the house. he was close to his sister and my mother. his mother was my grandpa bos's sister. we have a small family. i grew up knowing her very well and i always wondered loss of losing her husband and then her son and even as little kid, my mom who was very close to her cousin harry adored him. he was like a big brother to her. losing him was something that stayed with her to the rest of her life. as a child i didn't understand the magnitude, you don't really feel those things when you're little but the older i got and
the more i dug into the letters, the more i realized why this was such a huge part of her life and of her family's life. >> the way that you structure the book is you have the story of the battle of the hiroshima, pacific. first the stories that you remember from your childhood that you researched and learned. if you wouldn't mind telling everybody, the stories that stick with me so much is when they find out when pearl harbor has been bombed? >> i remember my mom telling me about the day. we went to church and she said, we were sitting in the booth and we were -- it had just arrived. whip cream on top and she was stirring it to cool it off and she heard something crack until the radio and all of the adults in the room got nervous and started putting coats on and she remember grabbing her and said
we have to go. the world has changed in an instant and she didn't know what was going on but she remembered that moment for the rest of her life. all the men that they knew including harry, he would go a couple of later because he would go to the pacific. >> to watch the rest of the program, visit our website booktv.org. use the searching box near the top of the page to look for martha macallum or the title of her book, unknown valor. >> in this week, we bring you a conversation with the washington post national politics columnist karen tumulty. recipient of many awards including tony prize for excellence andol