Busby, Horace 1924(?)-2000
BUSBY, Horace 1924(?)-2000
PERSONAL: Born c. 1924; married; children; died May, 2000, in Santa Monica, CA. Education: Degree from University of Texas.
CAREER: Newspaper reporter in Austin, TX, c. 1940s; speechwriter for Lyndon B. Johnson, 1948–68; U.S. Cabinet, secretary, 1963–65; management consultant, political analyst, and publisher of newsletters, including American Businessman, and Busby Papers.
The Thirty-first of March: An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson's Final Days in Office, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Horace Busby was twenty-four years old when he began working for Texas congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, and he remained a top aide to the politician for the next two decades. Those were tumultuous years, culminating in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Johnson's subsequent ascent to the presidency. Busby was primarily a speechwriter, but he also served as a trusted advisor and, occasionally, as Johnson's scapegoat. Though the book's title suggests a focus on Johnson's last days in the White House, the scope is much wider than that. With a deep understanding of his subject, the author summons up Johnson's contradictory nature, demonstrating how the late president could be both crude and compassionate, overbearing and unexpectedly sensitive. "This is an engrossing and important contribution to our understanding of a compelling political personality," noted Booklist contributor Jay Freeman. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the book particularly valuable for the author's eyewitness account of the transition of power at that fateful time, stating: "Here are dramatic, intimate details of an uncommon and historically important variety." After Kennedy's death, Johnson faced the monumental task of trying to guide the nation through the troubled years of civil-rights struggles and protests against the Vietnam War. Eventually, he declined to run for reelection so that he could focus on ending the war without worrying about the political repercussions of his actions. Kirkus Reviews contributor Karl Helicher commented, "Busby's account of LBJ in his last months in office is affecting: he depicts a tired old man worn out by his office, barely holding on in a besieged city and a country torn in two, yet steadily keeping to a 20-hour-a-day schedule."
Busby's memoir was published posthumously, having been discovered among his papers after his death. According to Washington Post reviewer Jonathan Yardley, this "may well be the best and most honest book we have about LBJ."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Busby, Horace, The Thirty-first of March: An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson's Final Days in Office, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Booklist, February 15, 2005, Jay Freeman, review of The Thirty-first of March: An Intimate Portrait of Lyndon Johnson's Final Days in Office, p. 1054.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2004, review of The Thirty-first of March, p. 1175.
Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Karl Helichre, review of The Thirty-first of March, p. 131.
Publishers Weekly, January 31, 2005, review of The Thirty-first of March, p. 58.
Washington Post, March 31, 2005, Jonathan Yardley, review of The Thirty-first of March, p. C2.