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A Texan Looks at Lyndon – A study in illegitimate power

A Texan Looks at Lyndon – A study in illegitimate power

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A Texan Looks at Lyndon had a dramatic impact on the political life of the nation. M. Stanton Evans of the Educational Research Institute in Washington DC notes that when the book was published in 1964, “it was a virtuoso performance on at least three levels. For the information it contained, for the way it was published, and for the explosion of grassroots political energy of which it was an integral part.”

Haley told Dr. M.E. Bradford, professor of English at the University of Dallas, that someone had told him, “I don’t think you like Lyndon Johnson.”

“Well,” Haley recalls replying, “that is not the issue. I’ll admit I don’t like crooks. I don’t like thieves. But with Lyndon Johnson, it’s a matter of his record.”

Publication of A Texan Looks at Lyndon marked a departure for the rancher-historian. In it he was no longer merely looking into the past to verify long-forgotten facts. Rather, he was presenting material that conceivably could affect the outcome of political careers.

Haley was not the type of man to shirk his responsibility as a historian – particularly when what he could reveal might determine the course of the future. “He followed through in the form of a patriot who knows the value of accurate historical information,” writes Bill Modisett, editorial page editor of the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

Above all, Haley is a man of principle, a man who has the courage of his convictions. He is, as he has written of others, a “man of fiber”.

Clear

On November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. (CST) President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A few short hours later, while the world stood still, a blood-spattered Jacqueline Kennedy stood beside Lyndon Baines Johnson inside of Air Force 1 as he took the oath of office as the 36th president of the United States.

History had been changed and a restless man, a man of unknown qualities to most of the people of the nation, had been thrust into the role of chief executive. To West Texas historian and rancher J. Evetts Haley, however, LBJ’s character and personality traits were all too clear. Haley watched Johnson’s rise from the oak-covered hills of Central Texas to become state director of the National Youth Administration and eventually win election to the US House of Representatives. Haley knew of the stolen election that put Johnson in the US Senate in 1948, the political power he wielded ruthlessly, his association with Texas wheeler-dealer Billie Sol Estes and Lyndon’s unrestrained lust for the presidency.

No one had the courage to challenge Johnson’s illegitimate presidency. No one, that is, except Evetts Haley. Widely known for his biographies of early-day Texas ranchers and lawmen that read “like poetry,” Haley realized he must expose Johnson’s betrayal to the nation. He did so in 1964, as LBJ was seeking election to the Oval Office the first time.

An historian of note, Haley has authored more than 20 books and hundreds of essays. He’s been called a “salty Texas Rebel” and “America’s finest historical writer”.

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