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"Mutual Contempt is at once a fascinating study in character and an illuminating meditation on the role character can play in shaping history."--Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy loathed each other. Their antagonism, propelled by clashing personalities, contrasting views, and a deep, abiding animosity, would drive them to a bitterness so deep that even civil conversation was often impossible. Played out against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s, theirs was a monumental political battle that would shape federal policy, fracture the Democratic party, and have a lasting effect on the politics of our times. Drawing on previously unexamined recordings and documents, as well as memoirs, biographies, and scores of personal interviews, Jeff Shesol weaves the threads of this epic story into a compelling narrative that reflects the impact of LBJ and RFK's tumultuous relationship on politics, civil rights, the war on poverty, and the war in Vietnam. As Publishers Weekly noted, "This is indispensable reading for both experts on the period and newcomers to the history of that decade." "An exhaustive and fascinating history. . . . Shesol's grasp of the era's history is sure, his tale often entertaining, and his research awesome."--Russell Baker, New York Review of Books "Thorough, provocative. . . . The story assumes the dimensions of a great drama played out on a stage too vast to comprehend."--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post (1997 Critic's Choice) "This is the most gripping political book of recent years."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"A stunning work of history."--Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of No Ordinary Time and Team of Rivals Beginning in 1935, the Supreme Court's conservative majority left much of FDR's agenda in ruins. The pillars of the New Deal fell in short succession. It was not just the New Deal but democracy itself that stood on trial. In February 1937, Roosevelt struck back with an audacious plan to expand the Court to fifteen justices--and to "pack" the new seats with liberals who shared his belief in a "living" Constitution.
During Franklin Roosevelt's first term, a narrow conservative majority on the US Supreme Court struck down several key elements of the New Deal legislation. The ensuing fight engulfed the country. Providing new evidence and fresh insight, Jeff Shesol unfolds like a thriller, with vivid characters and unexpected twists, why understanding the Court fight is essential to understanding the presidency, personality, and legacy of FDR-and to understanding America at a crossroads in its history.