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MU Researcher Helps Texans Remember Former President LBJ

Sept. 22, 2008

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Vietnamese War, civil rights and segregation struggles, and an unruly economy - former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson faced issues and events that changed the culture of America. To celebrate the well-known president’s 100th birthday, University of Missouri Professor John Bullion offered his research and book, Lyndon B. Johnson and the Transformation of American Politics, to help Texas State University-San Marcos students, faculty and local community remember one of the school’s most distinguished alumni. 

Bullion’s book was chosen for the institution’s 2008 campus reading program, titled Common Experience. The program is designed to encourage students to read a critically acclaimed book and participate in campus-wide conversations about the book throughout the year. The book examines how Johnson dealt with issues that remain relevant today, including an unpopular war, troubled domestic economy, poverty, civil rights and foreign relations.

“The Bullion book came out just as we were contemplating putting together a custom reader that students would work from,” said Frank de la Teja, Texas state historian and chair of Texas State’s history department. “We found the book provided exactly what we needed in terms of engaging freshman students and providing coverage of appropriate themes.”

As part of the Common Experience, professors from all academic divisions will lead 3,000 freshmen in class discussions and lectures about Bullion’s book. Bullion will present the annual James Taylor Lecture, Texas State’s most prestigious and oldest public lecture, where he will speak on Johnson’s ideas of patriotism.

“The book enables readers to recognize Johnson’s contributions – good and bad– in the world they live in, and it allows them to assess Johnson’s character knowledgeably and fairly,” said Bullion, history professor in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Bullion’s experience with Johnson comes in part from his father, one of Johnson’s tax attorneys who spent time on the LBJ ranch hunting deer. Bullion recounts some of the doubts that Johnson had about Vietnam and the role religion played in shaping the president’s approach to government. The book also describes many of Johnson’s thoughts on racial issues and his understanding of Southern politics. Bullion will give the Taylor Lecture on Oct. 13.