by Andrea G.
Robert Schenkkan’s play All the Way, about Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first term as president, won the Tony Award. The Seattle Repertory Theatre commissioned and now premieres Schenkkan’s The Great Society, which dramatizes LBJ’s second term of office. A master politician, LBJ focused on passing some of the most ambitious social programs in U.S. history, including a war on poverty and continuing civil rights legislation. The Great Society dramatizes these accomplishments in contrast to his fall from grace as the Vietnam War spiraled out of control.
If you’re looking for even more about LBJ’s presidency, try Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency by Mark Updegrove. The director of the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum, Updegrove has drawn on interviews with those close to Johnson to create a readable and vivid account of Johnson as president.
The Vietnam War has been the subject of a number of fantastic fiction and nonfiction books. Try David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, a critical journalistic account of how the Kennedy and Johnson administrations escalated U.S. involvement in Vietnam. For a more personal touch, read Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien. This fictional work is based on his own experiences with the army in Vietnam. Or pick up Matterhorn by Washington author Karl Marlantes, a novel focused on one soldier’s wartime experience in the Quang-Tri province of Vietnam.
Returning to the U.S., The Silence of Our Friends, a graphic novel by Mark Long, is set against the back drop of the Civil Rights movement of 1967 Houston as two families – one white, one black – come together to fight for black college students wrongly accused of murdering a white policeman.
For more suggestions of books and DVDs that tie in with The Great Society try this Beyond the Theatre list.