a hand writingWhat the press says

The New Yorker

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

President Lyndon B. Johnson is today remembered largely for his failure in Vietnam. But before the war sunk his presidency, LBJ compiled a record of accomplishment on the domestic front unmatched since FDR. Medicare, civil and voting rights, clean air and water, Head Start, immigration reform, public broadcasting — fifty years later, these programs are so deeply woven into the fabric of American life that it is difficult to imagine the country without them.

LBJ and the Great Society is a window on this transformative moment in U.S. history, and the larger-than-life figure at the center of it. Hosted by Melody Barnes, chief domestic policy advisor to Barack Obama and now co-head of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. The series is a sequel to LBJ's War (also available in this feed), which mined a largely unheard trove of recordings from the White House to tell the story of Johnson's ruinous misadventure in Vietnam.

a heart with an arrow through itWhat fans say about the podcast

At last, perspective

LBJ, neither warmonger nor total victim of circumstance, revealed at last. These episodes are wonderful and informative. Very much looking forward to Season Two!


Very Relevant

“[The President’s] big job is not doing what’s right, but knowing what’s right.” LBJ


Must-hear history

Vivid and compelling, and immensely valuable. Every student of history, civics and political science should listen.


LBJ and the Great Society

History come alive. Where was this podcast when I was in high school? So good.


All Presidential candidates should listen!

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

We need an LBJ now

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

About the Host

Melody Barnes

Melody Barnes


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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You can listen to episodes right here on the website, or if you prefer, in a podcast app. Listening in an app makes it easier to keep track of what you’ve already heard, listen without using your data plan and many other conveniences.

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Start listening to Trailer - Welcome to LBJ and the Great Society
Start listening to Trailer - Welcome to LBJ and the Great Society