Michael Beschloss

Beschloss on Lady Bird Johnson, 1912-2007

During the three decades after Lyndon Johnson's death—a period almost as long as their marriage—Lady Bird followed her own heart. She established a world-class wildflower center and summered among the glitterati of Martha's Vineyard, a place her husband once derided as "some female island." She bought a house for herself in Austin so modest that Lyndon would have felt claustrophobic.

Talk Transcript: The Real Jamestown

In April 1994, at Jamestown, an archeologist named Bill Kelso looked into the hole he had just dug and cried, "Holy Moses!" What inspired Kelso's outburst was a fragment of pottery—evidence that he had discovered the exact site of the first English-speaking settlement in North America.

White House: Restoring the Lincoln Bedroom

A hundred and ninety-eight years after Abraham Lincoln's birth, the White House's Lincoln Bedroom finally looks like a room the great man would recognize.Until recently, Lincoln furniture and a copy of the Gettysburg Address were displayed against the pale walls, curtains and carpet of a 1950s city hotel—not the vivid golds and purples, heavy fabrics and large patterns of Lincoln's era.One reason for this mild historical fib was to focus attention on the chamber's historic objects.

Happy Birthday, Abe

Beschloss's next book, "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989," will be published in May.A hundred and ninety-eight years after Abraham Lincoln's birth, the White House's Lincoln Bedroom finally looks like a room the great man would recognize.Until recently, Lincoln furniture and a copy of the Gettysburg Address were displayed against the pale walls, curtains and carpet of a 1950s city hotel--not the vivid golds and purples, heavy fabrics and large patterns...

Advice, But Often No Consent

America was mired in a frustrating, seemingly endless war. An election year was approaching, and the president's own party leaders were terrified that their recent crushing midterm congressional defeat would be repeated in the coming race for the White House.


Whether history will view Ronald Reagan as a great president depends, more than anything else, on one question: how much credit does he deserve for the fact that the cold war ended far earlier than almost anyone suspected--and on terms that Americans had fantasized about for 45 years?Campaigning against Jimmy Carter, Reagan refused advisers' pleas to align himself with the approach to the Russians adopted by every president since Eisenhower: Bargain to limit the increase in both sides' nuclear...

The Kissinger Files

When John Updike published his ironic 1992 novel, "Memories of the Ford Administration," he could not know that he was writing about the future. This past spring, as George W.

Fdr's Auschwitz Secret

By the summer of 1944, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had murdered millions of Jews. Jewish leaders implored Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to try to slow the killing by bombing the death complex at Auschwitz and the railroad lines that supplied it.For almost two years, Churchill and FDR had been quietly receiving evidence of Hitler's ghastly effort to remove an entire people from the face of the earth.

'I Don't See Any Way Of Winning'

As George W. Bush launches America's war on terrorism, we are watching a great turn of the historical wheel from the start of our last momentous war--in 1965, when Lyndon Johnson took us into the catastrophe of Vietnam."We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam," President Bush said last month.

A Question Of Anti-Semitism

In July 1971, Richard Nixon was furious. Angry that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had released embarrassing unemployment numbers, the president orders his special counsel--and hatchet man--Charles Colson to investigate the officials who leaked the figures. "They are all Jews?" Nixon asks. "You just have to go down the goddam list and know they are out to kill us," Colson replies.Historians now have new evidence from which to judge the depth and importance of Richard Nixon's private antipathy...

Putting The Pieces Back Together

AT THE BEGINNING OF AUGUST 1974, THE penultimate moment of Watergate, some thought the scandal might end with a horrific scene out of Allen Drury or ""Seven Days in May.'' To ensure that Richard Nixon could not start a war to keep himself in power, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger told the Joint Chiefs that any military order from the embattled president should be first referred to him.

The Johnson Tapes

AS LYNDON JOHNSON WAS dying of heart disease in January 1973, he reminded his personal aide, Mildred Stegall, to safeguard the cache of tape recordings of his private presidential conversations.

Lbj Goes Off The Record

Lyndon Baines Johnson never liked to be out of the limelight for long. Now, 23 years after the fatal heart attack in the bedroom of his cherished ranch, the 36th President has brought himself back to life--thanks to the Johnson Library's release of tapes LBJ made of private conversations he conducted in early 1964.

Where The Elite Met

A FUTURE TIME TRAVELER TRYING TO learn how America was run during the early cold war might be well advised to descend on a quirky, modern house in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington one evening in the late 1940s.

The Art Of Losing

AROUND THE NIXON WHITE HOUSE, THEY CALLED IT THE "WALLACE WATCH." Richard Nixon had narrowly won in 1968; worried about 1972, he longingly eyed the 13 percent captured by the swaggering Alabama governor's third-party campaign.

Backstage At The Cold War

In 1962, Nikita Khrushchev sent a young former aircraft engineer, Anatoly Dobrynin, as his envoy to John E Kennedy. In 1986, worried about Dobrynin's independent influence in the United States, Mikhail Gorbachev yanked the old man back to Moscow.

The Curse Of The Famous Scion

It is not always a treat to grow up as the heir to a world-famous leader. Consider the offspring of the most important trio of this century-the Big Three of World War II, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin:The British Prime Minister expected his son Randolph to carry on his leadership, but as the Oxford scholar Isaiah Berlin observed, young Churchill's "violence and lack of control" were at times "pathetic, disarming and childlike." The hard-drinking Randolph once boasted...

The End Of An Era?

Listen closely, and you may hear the death rattle of the presidency we have known for 60 years. Seldom in recent history has the engine of political initiative in America so decisively shifted from White House to Congress.

What Took Them So Long?

THE WONDER OF LAST WEEK'S ELECTIONS IS NOT THAT THE Republicans seized control of Congress. It is that they took so long to do it. The United States has been largely a conservative country since the early 1970s, as shown by its almost unbroken string of Republican presidents.