Betty Boyd Caroli
A graduate of Oberlin College, Betty Caroli holds a master’s degree in Mass Communications from the Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in American Civilization from New York University. A Fulbright scholar to Italy, she also held fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Hoover Presidential Library, the LBJ Foundation, and others. After studying in Salzburg, Austria and Perugia, Italy (but before joining the faculty at the City University of New York), she taught in Palermo and Rome, Italy.
Caroli’s book tour promoting Lady Bird and Lyndon took her to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas; to Dallas, where she spoke to an audience of 650 as part of the Authors Live! Series; to the Paragraphs Bookstore in Mt. Vernon, Ohio; to audiences in New York City, where she spoke at the 92nd Street Y, the New-York Historical Society, and the NYU Biography Seminar; to Washington, D.C., where she appeared at the National Archives and on Chris Matthews’ Hardball; to Missouri for talks at the St. Louis County Library and the Kansas City Public Library; to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Town Hall in Seattle, Washington; the Atlanta History Center in Georgia, and the Louisville Public Library in Kentucky.
Betty Boyd Caroli is a First Lady biographer and formerly Professor of History at City University of New York. Her previous works include Roosevelt Women, Immigrants Who Returned Home, and Inside the White House.
She currently resides in New York City and Venice, Italy.
And I met Betty Caroli on Bequia, where she, her sister, and both their husbands at one time owned a house together. Recently, Betty has been returning to Bequia every year for a few weeks, and has stayed in a rental house located just below ours, so we’ve managed to keep in touch. Betty’s sister, Lois Boyce, is also a great reader, and whenever we’ve gotten together, especially with Felicity Harley (who I previously promoted on A-RI), we definitely have a lot to talk about! So I am very much looking forward to Betty, Livio, and Lois’s next visit, and I hope we may organize some kind of promotion while Betty is here for we authors and our books. (Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to experiment with that “literary salon podcast” idea I’ve been rolling around in my head …)
Lady Bird and Lyndon
Marriage is the most underreported story in political life, yet it is often the key to its success. Historian Betty Boyd Caroli spent seven years exploring the archives of the LBJ Library, interviewing dozens of people, and mining never-before-released letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon. The result “redefines the First Lady as an iron fist in a white glove” (Vanity Fair) and helps explain how the talented, but flawed Lyndon Baines Johnson ended up making history.
Lady Bird grew up the daughter of a domineering father and a cultured but fragile mother. When a tall, pushy Texan named Lyndon showed up in her life, they married within weeks with a tacit agreement: this highly gifted politician would take her away, and she would save him from his weaknesses. The conventional story goes that Lyndon married Lady Bird for her money and demeaned her by flaunting his many affairs, and that her legacy was protecting the nation’s wildflowers. But Caroli shows that she was also the one who swooped in to make the key call to a donor, to keep the team united, to campaign in hostile territory, and to jump-start Lyndon out of his paralyzing dark moods.
In Lady Bird and Lyndon, Caroli restores Lady Bird to her rightful place in history. But she also tells a love story whose compromises and edifying moments many women will recognize.
This “smartly written…stunning” (The Boston Globe) portrait of Lady Bird as the essential strategist, fundraiser, barnstormer, and ballast for her husband Lyndon offers “a penetrating analysis…of a marriage that paired two complicated but devoted figures, a coupling that changed the face of America” (Richmond Times-Dispatch).
Here’s a video of Betty Caroli speaking about the book, Lady Bird and Lyndon.
Betty Caroli has recently updated and reissued the fifth edition of First Ladies: The Ever Changing Role, published by Oxford University Press. “Betty Boyd Caroli’s engrossing and informative First Ladies is both a captivating read and an essential resource for anyone interested in the role of America’s First Ladies. Caroli observes the role as it has shifted and evolved from ceremonial backdrop to substantive world figure. This expanded and updated fifth edition presents Caroli’s keen political analysis and astute observations of recent developments in First Lady history, including Melania Trump’s reluctance to take on the mantle and former First Lady Hilary Clinton’s recent run for president. Caroli here contributes a new preface and updated chapters.
For more information about Betty Caroli and her books, please see her website