In This Review

Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam
Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam
By Thomas Alan Schwartz
Harvard University Press, 2003, 339 pp

As U.S. diplomats speak of a crisis of confidence in U.S.-German relations, Gerhard Schröder is trying to keep the alliance on track. In France, a powerful, rightist president is setting out to systematically contain and constrain American power as waves of anti-American passion convulse the political scene. Students and left-wing political activists all over Europe are marching against the United States' unilateralist and aggressive war policy. Intellectuals and establishment politicians cannot conceal their contempt of the amateurish, unread, and inexperienced Texas "cowboy" who has inexplicably become president of the great republic. All Europe mourns the glory days of his predecessor, a silver-tongued, centrist Democrat who endeared himself to the Old World as few American leaders ever have. This is, of course, a description of the transatlantic relationship during Lyndon Johnson's presidency. (Former German Foreign Minister Gerhard Schröder is no relation of the present German chancellor.) Schwartz's carefully researched and thoughtfully presented history of Johnson's European policy is not only fascinating for the light it casts on this enigmatic president; it also shows the degree to which today's transatlantic tensions reflect permanent fault lines between the Cold War partners. Johnson, Schwartz argues, managed the relationship reasonably well; let's hope today's Texan in the White House can also cope.