Bully for A Good Cause

THE TRIUMPH & TRAGEDY OF LYNDON JOHNSON: THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS by Joseph A. Califano Jr.; Simon & Schuster; 398 pages; $25

Discovering the truth about Lyndon Johnson is like conducting a monstrous archaeological dig, with authors desperately collecting the shards from his mountainous record. Some are intent on assembling the dark glints, while others gather points of light. Joseph Califano, his closest aide on domestic policy for 3 1/2 years, has delivered a hard, pure nugget of L.B.J. that is close to the truth. Califano was there taking notes.

The deviousness, the bullying and the lying, which ultimately consumed Johnson,...

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