Marshall Frady’s books include Wallace, Billy Graham, Southerners, Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson, and, most recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. He is currently writing a biography of Fidel Castro. (February 2004)

An American Tragedy

These days the city of Atlanta lifts to the eye a panorama of shimmering office towers indistinguishable from the Everycities of America’s corporate civilization, with the same surrounding suburban plain of toy-neat houses innumerably ranked along a maze of cul-de-sacs. It seems now wholly translated beyond the old furies and …

The Prospero of the Senate

From his political beginnings as an eager young populist New Dealer out of the scrubby hill country of south Texas, Lyndon Johnson had carried his already huge presidential hankerings through successive, sometimes desperate campaigns to deliver himself finally, after a restless tenure in the House, into the Senate in 1949.

The Big Guy

Lyndon Johnson was indeed, as has become almost a commonplace by now, a being of Shakespearean dimensions—a hulking, bush-country colossus, gargantuan of ego and energy, of self-delusions and glooms and paranoias, crass cruelties and rampant vulgarities, but gargantuan also in his benevolent ambitions. All he wanted was to be the …

Prophet with Honor

He was close, before it was over, to becoming the American Gandhi—a stocky, solemn man, deliberate and ponderous of manner in his deacon-sober suits. His round face, black as asphalt, had a bland gaze of bourgeois placidity, even while, from the pulpit, he bayed forth his billowing moral metaphors like …

The Buck Stops Here

Joseph Califano ends his account of his travails as Jimmy Carter’s secretary of health, education, and welfare with the warning, “What we should fear above all is the judgment of God and history if the most affluent people on earth…choose not to govern justly, distribute our riches fairly and help …

Black Power Now

Out beyond the South’s glassy-towered Everycities of Atlanta and Columbia and Jackson, the piney flatlands cluttered with stale little towns still look much as they did during the storms of the civil rights movement in the Sixties, as if these reaches were suspended in another, static field of time. In …

The Transformation of Bobby Kennedy

They were, to be sure, spectacularly flawed—of an ore much mixed with brazen, base elements. But if nothing else, it can be said that the Kennedys afforded this society of the common man and the commonplace with something very close to its first national mythic saga—a line of jaunty and …

Jerry for President?

Ever since his startling pillage of Jimmy Carter’s progress in the last six presidential primaries of 1974, California’s bachelor governor Jerry Brown—errant Jesuit seminarian with still a pallor of sanctity about him, in his raven-dark suits, his sharp mouth with a faint down-tug of the haughty and fastidious, political communicant …

Why He’s Not the Best

For most of the country, the event of Jimmy Carter’s installation at last as president of the United States was not unlike waking up one morning to find oneself married to a stranger. There was a stir of dim unease in the windy sensation of it all. It had been …

The Return of George Wallace

George Wallace’s life by now has taken on symmetries of irony that would be almost too pat even for hack melodrama. It’s as if he has passed out of reality altogether, and become a character in an Allen Drury novel. Throughout his clamorous career in the Sixties, he was always …

“My dream came true. I was Mr. Maddox.”

In retrospect, the Sixties seem a decade in the life of this country during which some cellar door was left ajar. Suddenly loose and rampant in the house were all manner of trolls and intruders, manic apparitions, a dark ransacking beserkness from the chaos of the old night outside. With …

Huey

To a number of discriminating souls in his day, Huey Pierce Long was an unspeakable vulgarity. In fact, people of social and political gentility frequently could not even bring themselves to utter his name, referring to him, as if briefly lifting something vile between two fingertips, as merely, “That man….” …