Lady Bird Johnson

Author who knew the former First Lady for decades talks about Lady Bird and his new book

By Eric Harrison April 23, 2013

Michael L. Gillette directed the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library's oral history program in Austin from 1976 to 1991, but he started doing interviews for the library's oral history collection shortly after he joined the staff in 1972, before the former president's death the following year.  In that role, Gillette or members of his staff conducted 47 oral history interviews with Lady Bird Johnson over a span of 18 years.

Michael Gillette presents Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History
Tuesday, 6 p.m., reception; 7 p.m., presentation
Brazos Bookstore
2421 Bissonnet St

He used those interviews as the basis for his book Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History. In the book, published in November, he sets out to tell an intimate story of a shy Texas girl from a small town who, through her life with Johnson, gets a front-row seat to history and ultimately becomes one of America's most admired First Ladies. The book also deals with how Lady Bird, who died in 2007, drew attention to conservation, beautification and environmental issues back when few national figures discussed them and turned a struggling Austin radio station into a communications empire.

Gillette, currently the executive director of Humanities Texas in Austin, will discuss the book tomorrow at the Brazos Bookstore. The 7 p.m. presentation will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception.

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