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The 2nd Richard E Neustadt Lecture on the American Presidency: Randall Woods on Lyndon B Johnson and the 'Other War' in Vietnam

Publication date: Sep 17, 2013 12:40:20 PM

Start: Nov 19, 2013 6:00:00 PM
End: Nov 19, 2013 7:30:00 PM

Location: UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

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In his seminal study, Presidential Power (1960), Richard E. Neustadt demonstrated that presidents should learn from the past to inform their decisions about the present and future. At a time when a US president has contemplated new military intervention in the Middle East, it is important to re-examine the most problematic ‘presidential war’ in America’s history. Within a year of his accession to the presidency in tragic circumstances a half-century ago, Lyndon B. Johnson had taken important steps to escalate US involvement in Vietnam.

Distinguished Johnson biographer Professor Randall Woods examines not only how Vietnam became ‘Lyndon Johnson’s War’ but also shows that US strategy changed in important ways in the period between the eventual ‘Americanization’ of the conflict in 1965 and the 36th president’s departure from office. During these years, the US military focus switched from ‘search and destroy’ to ‘counterinsurgency and pacification.’ This address examines the Johnson presidency in terms of its commander-in-chief role in Vietnam and assesses the effectiveness of its ‘other war’ strategy.

Randall Woods is John A. Cooper Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He received his PhD from the University of Texas. He specializes in teaching and research of twentieth century US diplomatic and political. He has published eight books, notably: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy Establishment and the Good Neighbor: Argentina and the United States, 1941-1945 (University Press of Kansas, 1979); Fulbright: A Biography (Cambridge University Press, 1996) winner of the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize; Lyndon B. Johnson: Architect of American Ambition (Free Press, 2006); and – most recently – Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA (Basic Books, 2013). Professor Woods has held numerous positions abroad, including Mary Ball Washington Distinguished Professor at University College, Dublin and Fulbright 50th Anniversary Chair at the University of Bonn. He is presently John Gilbert Winant Visiting Professorship in American Government at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford. 

Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.