When President Lyndon Baines Johnson dedicated his presidential library in 1971, he declared, "It's all here, the story of our time—with the bark off." Since then, in keeping with his vision, the LBJ Library has been a forum for the biggest names and best minds of our day to address the issues of our time. This season of With the Bark Off offers a critical examination of the 45 men who have led our nation and the evolution of America’s highest office. Preeminent historians and authors take us behind-the-scenes and share revealing insights on presidents from George Washington to Joe Biden. With the Bark Off is a production of the LBJ Foundation and each biweekly episode will be hosted by Mark A. Lawrence, Director of the LBJ Presidential Library, author, and prominent scholar on American politics and foreign policy; or Mark K. Updegrove, President and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, author, and ABC News presidential historian.
"History has become extremely politicized" A conversation about American political myths with Julian Zelizer
42:46Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is also a contributor to CNN, and the author of numerous books including “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” and “Burning Down the House.” His new bestselling book, which he edited with Kevin Kruse, is entitled “Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past,” and is comprised of essays that take aim at many of the distortions and manipulations of our history that have led many Americans to believe fiction over fact.We talked to Julian about the myths and legends that have shaped American consciousness, how they arose, and why they need to be dispelled in order for us to get a truer sense of who we are as a nation.
"Wilson sees no course compatible with American honor to keep the US out of war" A Conversation with Charlie Laderman About Woodrow Wilson
53:25Professor Laderman is a prolific historian of international affairs based in the War Studies Department at King’s College London. His books include Sharing the Burden: The Armenian Question, Humanitarian Intervention, and Anglo-American Visions of Global Order as well as Hitler’s American Gamble: Pearl Harbor and Germany’s March to Global War. Laderman has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and The Washington Post and has worked as a commentator for the BBC.
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"LBJ thought he could use Hoover as a political tool" A conversation with Bev Gage about J. Edgar Hoover
54:00Beverly Gage is a professor of History at Yale University. She is also the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded and has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. In G-Man, Gage covers the full sweep of Hoover’s life, from his birth in 1895 to his death in 1972, offering a nuanced portrait of a complicated man who took the helm of the FBI before the age of 30, and would go on to become a confidante, and often a nemesis, to 8 presidents—from Warren Harding to Richard Nixon.
"The Biden presidency is a political thriller" A Conversation with Chris Whipple
50:11Chris Whipple is an author and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. He appears frequently as a political analyst on MSNBC, CNN, and NPR, and his previous books include The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency and The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future.
"He is a master divider who fit the times" A Conversation with Peter Baker & Susan Glasser About Donald Trump and Covering the White House
45:18Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, a political analyst for MSNBC, and the author of several books on the presidency, including Days of Fire and The Breach. Susan Glasser is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a CNN global affairs analyst. Their first assignment as a married couple was as Moscow bureau chiefs for The Washington Post, after which they wrote Kremlin Rising. They also co-authored The Man Who Ran Washington, a New York Times bestseller.The Divider is, at least for the moment, the definitive account of the Trump presidency. Sweeping across four years of nearly constant crisis and controversy, the book examines one of America's most enigmatic presidencies, which included two impeachments, dramatic international events, a constantly shifting array of advisers, and the insurrection of January 6, 2021.This conversation took place on December 13, 2022, at the LBJ Presidential Library.
Best of "With the Bark Off" 2022
1:11:31Hosts Mark Lawrence and Mark Updegrove look back on 10 of their favorite "With the Bark Off" moments from an incredible year.Featured guests:Amity Shlaes on Calvin CoolidgeJohn Farrell on Richard NixonPaul Gregory on Lee Harvey OswaldNicole Hemmer on Ronald ReaganJonathan Martin on Donald TrumpPete Souza on Barack ObamaGabriel Debenedetti on the legacies of Obama and BidenAnthony Fauci on his own legacyAli Vitali on Queen Elizabeth II and female leadershipDarlene Superville and Julie Pace on Jill Biden's influence on Joe Biden's decision whether to run for reelection
"Just running to stay ahead of the darkness" A Conversation About Ted Kennedy with John Farrell
55:19John Farrell is a former White House correspondent and Washington editor for the Boston Globe and a former Washington Bureau Chief and columnist for the Denver Post. He is also a best-selling and award-winning author whose works include Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century; Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned; and Richard Nixon: The Life, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize that he discussed in an earlier episode of this program.His latest book, Ted Kennedy: A Life, explores Senator Kennedy’s remarkable 77 years, rife with inconceivable triumph and unimaginable tragedy.
"He operates almost entirely from first principle" A Conversation About Grover Cleveland with Troy Senik
52:30Grover Cleveland hardly ranks among the most celebrated or accomplished of American presidents. Like Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and other presidents of the late 19th century, Cleveland held office at a time when Congress dominated national political life and few Americans expected much of their chief executive. And yet closer inspection reveals a most remarkable president -- and not only because he is the only one to hold two non-consecutive terms.Troy Senik is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a co-founder of the digital media company Kite & Key. Troy is also author of A Man of Iron: The Turbulent Life and Improbably Presidency of Grover Cleveland (September 2022).
"When the country needed him, he rose to the occasion" A Conversation With Pete Souza About Barack Obama and Presidential Photography
49:16Pete Souza is one of our nation’s leading photojournalists—and few have risen to greater prominence. He has worked as an official White House photographer for Ronald Reagan and the chief official White House photographer for Barack Obama. Among many other distinctions, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 along with colleagues at the Chicago Tribune, and last year he was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame. His books include Obama: An Intimate Portrait, one of the bestselling photography books of all time; Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents; and his latest, The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency.Mark Updegrove and Mark Lawrence talk to Pete about his unique vantage point on the presidency and the presidents he has worked with and captured for history.
"I never doubted he did it and did it alone" A Conversation with Paul Gregory About Lee Harvey Oswald
39:32Paul Gregory is an expert on Russia and is currently a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. A pioneer in the study of Soviet and Russian economics, his textbook on the Russian economy was used to teach more than two generations of students. But Gregory’s latest book is on a subject that he has been reluctant to address for nearly six decades: his relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald and his young wife Marina. Gregory was one of the few people who actually knew them. His inside account of the Oswalds’s marriage offers a disturbing portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald, whom Gregory believes acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy.We talked to Gregory about the Lee Harvey Oswald he came to know, someone who possessed the motive, cunning, and killer instinct of a murderer who was desperately vying for a place in history.