Julia Sweig on Lady Bird Johnson, with Debby Applegate

NOV 11, 2021 | 6:00 PM TO 7:10 PM



Online Event


November 11, 2021: 6:00 PM-7:10 PM




Leon Levy Center for Biography



Perhaps the most underestimated First Lady of the twentieth century, Lady Bird Johnson was also one of the most accomplished and often her husband's secret weapon. Managing the White House in years of national upheaval, through the civil rights movement and the escalation of the Vietnam War, Lady Bird projected a sense of calm and, following the glamorous and modern Jackie Kennedy, an old-fashioned image of a First Lady. In truth, she was anything but. As the first First Lady to run the East Wing like a professional office, she took on her own policy initiatives, including the most ambitious national environmental effort since Teddy Roosevelt. Occupying the White House during the beginning of the women's liberation movement, she hosted professional women from all walks of life in the White House, including urban planning and environmental pioneers like Jane Jacobs and Barbara Ward, encouraging women everywhere to pursue their own careers, even if her own style of leadership and official role was to lead by supporting others. 

Where no presidential biographer has understood the full impact of Lady Bird Johnson’s work in the White House, Julia Sweig is the first to draw substantially on Lady Bird’s own voice in her White House diaries to place Claudia Alta "Lady Bird” Johnson center stage and to reveal a woman ahead of her time—and an accomplished politician in her own right.

Dr. Julia Sweig is a scholar and author whose extensive short- and long-form work covers Cold War American foreign policy and diplomatic history in the Americas, especially Cuba. As a policy practitioner, she led the Latin American program at the Council on Foreign Relations for 15 years. Her new book, Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight, a New York Times bestseller, shifts Julia’s focus to American history and politics. Moving into broadcast media, her ABC News podcast, In Plain Sight: Lady Bird Johnson, is an eight-episode, immersive audio documentary.

Debby Applegate won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for her first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, and is the author of Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age, forthcoming from Doubleday in September 2021.  She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

This is an online event. Please register here to participate via Zoom.