Brand : Julian E. Zelizer

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society



James biddlecome |

The great society revealed

I never knew how much domestic legislation lyndon johnson was responsible for before i read this book. i thought that it was a catastrophe that jfk was assassinated but this book reveals that he was, in actuality, rather weak. it was johnson who took jfk's legislation to congress and got most of it passed. the "great society", as it became known, was in reality johnson's extension of fdr's "new deal". the great society legislation extended civil rights by leaps and bounds. johnson's biggest mistake was extending the vietnam war which we should never have been involved with in the first place. it is a long read but well worth the time.

Emory daniels |

Historian examines lbj’s role in crafting the great society

Almost all of us know lyndon baines johnson was responsible for the great society changes while serving as us president but most of us by now have forgotten how extensive those reforms were. author julian e. zelizer in his new book “the fierce urgency of now: lyndon johnson, congress and the battle for the great society.” personally i had forgotten that we have lbj to thank for the passage of medicare and medicaid. most of us will remember that the great society reforms included the civil rights act, the voting rights act and the war on poverty. but lbj’s great society also included the national endowment for the arts and humanities, public broadcasting, important environmental protection legislation, immigration liberalization, and major spending for public transit. many of these programs jfk had tried to achieve during his presidency but failed. so why did johnson succeed where kennedy could not. historian zelizer examines the forces at working the white house and congress that made these changes possible as well as the interplay of civil rights activists, unions, pacs, religious groups, and the media. in his analysis, zelizer says that among many too much credit is given to johnson and not enough to congress which was very receptive to reform during when the great society was launched. he points out that the election of 1964 not only sent lbj to the white house but produced the most liberal congress since the democratic landslide of 1936 when fdr reigned in dc. on this point the author says: “we’ve been enamored with executive power and presidential power for some time. some of that comes out of the rhetoric that presidents use, and some of that comes out of the popular culture where there’s a total focus on the person in the white house. i like presidential biographies and i learn a lot from them, but i think they seriously overemphasize what the president is able to do or even was a president is responsible for.” zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at princeton, has written books on wilbur mills’s role in taxation as well as books on congressional reform, jimmy carter, and ronald reagan and is working on a book about george w. bush. he also has a weekly column on cnn.com. this background has helped the author write a fascinating account of one of the most important political periods in our nation’s history and a thoughtful explanation of how these reforms came about and the epoch forces at work that led to american taking two giant steps forward, and then another and another.

Patrick regan |

A detailed account of a very important period in us history

I have always been curious about the creation of the great society but, until now, i have had little opportunity to learn about it. the fierce urgency of now changed that for me. this book describes the presidency of lyndon johnson and the creation of the great society as well as the civil rights movement and other contemporary events. i really liked this book. it does go into a lot of detail about the efforts to pass the bills that resulted in the great society but it all makes for interesting reading. it is really amazing that the johnson administration managed to pass these bills as there was a lot of opposition in congress to passage of these bills. it is really interesting reading how the johnson team overcame these obstacles. while some of the work johnson did got changed later, some of it is still in existence today so this book is an important historical document. i recommend this book for anyone interested in this period of time.