White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on LBJ

Recordings Offer Intimate Glimpse of Master Politician

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President Lyndon B. Johnson on the phone

President Johnson taped hundreds of hours of his Oval Office conversations. U.S. National Archives & Records Administration hide caption

toggle caption U.S. National Archives & Records Administration

Forty years ago next week, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and Lyndon B. Johnson suddenly became president. One of the first things Johnson did when he moved into the Oval Office was install a secret tape-recording system. Kennedy had made clandestine tapes of his White House conversations, but Johnson took the practice to a vast new level, taping hundreds of hours of discourse, including more than 9,000 phone calls.

In a new book and CD set titled White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President, the secret recordings offer a rare and intimate glimpse of LBJ using his powers of one-on-one persuasion to shape history. Stephen Smith of American RadioWorks reports.



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