The Making and the Breaking of a President

COMING in the May and June ATLANTIC

by Doris Kearns

excerpts from the author’s eagerly awaited book,

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream

A sample: “I figured when my legislative program passed the Congress that the Great Society had a real chance to grow into a beautiful woman ... I figured . . . that the American people couldn’t help but fall in love with her, and once they did, they’d want to keep her around forever . . .

“But now Nixon has come along and everything I’ve worked for is ruined. There’s a story in the paper every day about him slashing another one of my Great Society programs. I can just see him waking up in the morning, making that victory sign of his and deciding which program to kill. It’s a terrible thing for me to sit by and watch someone else starve my Great Society to death. She’s getting thinner and thinner and uglier and uglier all the time; now her bones are beginning to stick out and her wrinkles are beginning to show. Soon she’ll be so ugly that the American people will refuse to look at her; they’ll stick her in a closet to hide her away and there she’ll die. And when she dies, I’ll die.”

—Lyndon Johnson to Doris Kearns in 1971