In the past, I’ve catalogued all the books I’m reading via a blog post. This year, I’ve been sharing those on social media instead. You can follow along on Facebook or Twitter. Still, I wanted to highlight one book every month in this space as the best of what I read. Just so you know the field, here is a quick list of each book:

Lyndon Johnson & The American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Faith After Doubt: Why Your Faith Stopped Working & What to Do About It
by Brian McLaren
Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity by Alisa Childers
Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear by Frank Luntz

I’m not sure I could’ve read four more dissimilar books. One was a presidential biography, one was written by a “progressive” Christian while a third was a critique of progressive Christianity, and a fourth was on the use of vocabulary that is effective.

Even though I liked them all, I think the best one I read belongs to the incredible Doris Kearns Goodwin in Lyndon Johnson & The American Dream.

Having known him personally, this treatment of his life from childhood to presidency and post-presidency is rich with insight. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the author’s husband worked in the LBJ administration. While as a result you might anticipate things being recounted through rose-colored glasses, I did not find that to be true. Doris Kearns Goodwin traces LBJ’s life and career with honesty. He is presented as a human being with real shortcomings — from his Texas-sized ego to his deep insecurities.

Goodwin also makes a case plainly that I’ve heard before — were it not for Vietnam, Lyndon B. Johnson might have gone down as one of our greatest presidents. His work on civil rights and the “great society” all had lasting impact. Yet he left office regretting he didn’t do more.

This is a long book. Not every page is a thrill ride. Still, it was very readable and enjoyable and I turned the last page with a great respect for LBJ that I didn’t have before. If you’re a fan of politics, presidential biographies, or Doris Kearns Goodwin, this is a great book to check out.

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