The Podcasts to Listen to While You're Social-Distancing ...Reagan, intriguingly, makes some equally maddening cameos in the excellent “LBJ and the Great Society,” from PRX, hosted by Melody Barnes, President Obama’s chief domestic-policy adviser. It’s a successor to “LBJ’s War,” from 2017, hosted by David Brown. Both series feature recordings of Lyndon Johnson’s phone calls, Lady Bird Johnson’s audio diaries, and other archival tape that lets us eavesdrop on how Johnson managed to create the most ambitious social safety net of our time...
About the show
Most accounts of the collapse of Richard Nixon’s presidency begin with Watergate — the now iconic tale of a bungled break-in and the misbegotten cover-up that followed. But what led to Watergate? How — and more puzzlingly, why — did one of the shrewdest, most gifted political figures of his time become embroiled in so manifestly lunatic an enterprise in the first place? Intrigued by that question, writer/journalist Kurt Andersen takes a deep dive into the vast archives at the Nixon Library and emerges with an answer he wasn’t expecting: While Watergate doubtless accelerated Nixon’s spectacular fall, it was the Vietnam War that led inexorably to the break-in, and from there to the sinking of his presidency.
For Andersen, who came of age in the Vietnam era, that answer in turn begs another, larger question: How did Richard Nixon, with all his foreign policy savvy, allow himself to get trapped in the same quagmire he had watched engulf his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson? These questions are the central concerns of Nixon at War. Over the course of seven episodes, Andersen peels back the onion and emerges with a new and deeper understanding of both the man and the war, and of the complex linkage between them.
LBJ, neither warmonger nor total victim of circumstance, revealed at last. These episodes are wonderful and informative. Very much looking forward to Season Two!— adamdavid21870
“[The President’s] big job is not doing what’s right, but knowing what’s right.” LBJ— MRLKD
Vivid and compelling, and immensely valuable. Every student of history, civics and political science should listen.— bmacdonald724
History come alive. Where was this podcast when I was in high school? So good.— veghouse
I shouldn’t have listened to this before bed because I am wildly energized for the first time in these dark days. I wish all candidates and voters would listen to this as a reminder of what government, what people can do to build a great society.— Triple Underpass
Picked this up as it was recommended on another podcast (Slate’s The Gabfest) during their chatter section. I’ve always been intrigued by LBJ mainly because he audio recorded everything and you get to hear his thoughts in his own words. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he could get things done. This podcast serves as a reminder of the good things he was able to do and that he was a Progressive in a time of turmoil. We need leadership like his right now.— That One Lady E
Melody Barnes spent two decades in Washington, D.C., and served as President Barack Obama's chief domestic policy advisor. Today, she co-directs the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia and is teaching a class on the Great Society.
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