When Bunkers Last In The Backyard Bloom—d

The fallout-shelter craze of 1961

It all began on the evening of July 25, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy went before television cameras to explain to his countrymen the grave meaning and still graver consequences of the deepening crisis over Berlin. The Russians were threatening American access rights to that isolated city, the President told an audience of 50,000,000 tense and expectant Americans. Those rights might be terminated on December 31 when Premier Khrushchev signed, as he threatened to do, a separate peace treaty with East Germany.Read more »

Lady Bird Johnson Remembers

The former First Lady looks back on the years with Lyndon and discusses her life today

When Lady Bird Johnson stops by the post office in Stonewall, Texas, to mail a letter, or waves to the tourists visiting the Johnson Ranch, or rides in the elevator of the LBJ Library in Austin, she is greeted with delighted smiles—sometimes of immediate recognition, sometimes of surprise—but always of pleasure. Her unassuming and invariably friendly presence is obviously one of the treasures of central Texas. Read more »

The Time Of The Angel

The U-2, Cuba, and the CIA

In the still of the October night, the slender, birdlike plane lifted into the sky from its base in California, climbed sharply on a column of flame, and headed east through the darkness. Pilot Richard Heyser, in the cramped, tiny cockpit, had good reason to be apprehensive, but he had little time to worry.Read more »

Machismo In The White House

LBJ AND VIETNAM

He was an old-fashioned man by the purest definition. Forget that he was enamored of twentieth-century artifacts—the telephone, television, supersonic airplanes, spacecraft—to which he adapted with a child’s wondering glee. His values were the relics of an earlier time; he had been shaped by an America both rawer and more confident than it later would become; his generation may have been the last to believe that for every problem there existed a workable solution: that the ultimate answer, as in old-time mathematics texts, always reposed in the back of the book.Read more »

Adlai Stevenson

The first time I saw Adlai Stevenson was in July, 1953. After the splendid but massive failure of his 1952 campaign he had spent five months travelling, mostly in Asia. He had received world acclaim to set against his national defeat. London was the last stage of his journey. I heard him speak briefly to an all-party House of Commons tea meeting. The chairman introduced him with a somewhat self-conscious impartiality: America was indeed fortunate to have been able to choose between two candidates of the distinction of General Eisenhower and Governor Stevenson. Read more »

JFK The Stained-Glass Image

As with Lincoln, assassination lifted John F. Kennedy to a beatified myth, in large part because of the guidelines set for books about him.

In mid-November, 1963, according to all major best-seller lists, the most popular nonfiction publication in America was a book that portrayed Jack Kennedy as “immature,” “arrogant,” “snobbish,” “glib,” “slick,” “calculating,” “hard as nails,” “mealymouthed,” “opportunistic,” “Machiavellian,” “intellectually shallow,” “spiritually rootless,” “morally pusillanimous,” “passionless,” “vain,” “shifty-eyed,” and, for every good reason, nicknamed “Jack the Knife.” The book, of course, was J.F.K.: The Man and the Myth, by Victor Lasky.

On History

President Kennedy, who now so prematurely and tragically belongs to history, not only made history himself but wrote it with depth and eloquence. His heightened perceptions of it pervaded his actions and his public papers. Astonishingly in so busy a man, he could even find time in the White House to keep up his intellectual interests, to read good books, and to write prefaces and occasional pieces.

 
Read more »