The American Presidency: Pivotal Elections: Nancy Beck Young

Public | Feb, 1 2024 4:00PM - 5:15PM

The American Presidency: Pivotal Elections: Nancy Beck Young

Americans will go to the polls in a few months to vote in what innumerable commentators are calling a pivotal presidential election, even one of the most consequential in American history. But it’s hardly the first time such claims have been made. Across the last 250 years, many presidential races have featured sharply contrasting agendas, political outlooks, and personal styles, with dire predictions about the nation’s future if one candidate or the other prevailed. How did these races unfold? How did presidential races encapsulate profound cleavages running through the nation? How did the outcomes shape the nation’s future? Looking back at elections from the nation’s past may provide perspective on our own moment.

This six-part virtual series explores these and other questions through lively conversations with eminent historians of American politics and the presidency. Each session will begin with a moderated discussion led by LBJ Library Director Mark Lawrence but will allow ample time for questions from the audience. Over six weeks leading up to President’s Day, we will sweep across American political history by delving into the elections of 1860, 1896, 1948, 1964, 1968, and 1980. We will examine presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan, exploring the races that elevated them to the Oval Office and the implications of the races they won.

Each session will begin at 4 p.m. and run for about 75 minutes.


Full schedule:

January 11  A.J. Baime, author of Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America’s Soul

January 18  Luke Nichter, author of The Year that Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968

January 25  Edward Achorn, author of The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention that Changed History

February 1  Nancy Beck Young, author of Two Suns of the Southwest: Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, and the 1964 Battle between Liberalism and Conservatism

February 8  Karl Rove, author of The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

February 15 Jon Ward, author of Camelot’s End: The Democrats’ Last Great Civil War



We will be using a Zoom webinar. Each session will begin with a moderated discussion led by LBJ Library Director Mark Lawrence but will allow ample time for questions from the audience.


Advance registration is required. You only need to register once for the series; you do not need to register for each week’s session. Once you register, you can expect to receive an email with a link to join the event. Questions about registration? Email

Register now to join us.


About the speaker:

On February 1, Nancy Beck Young will join us to talk about the election of 1964.

Nancy Beck Young, Ph.D., is Professor of History at the University of Houston, where she has taught since 2007. Previously she was assistant and associate professor of history at McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. Dr. Young received her B.A. from Baylor and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She has held two residential fellowships, one at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. and another as the Clements Fellow in Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University.

She has written numerous books and is currently researching two book manuscripts— one a biography of John Nance Garner and another on the idea of the first lady. Her most recent book, Two Suns of the Southwest: Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, and the 1964 Battle between Liberalism and Conservatism was published in 2019 by the University Press of Kansas.

Dr. Young has won a number of honors for her scholarship and her teaching including the Guittard Book Prize for her book titled Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II, the D.B. Hardeman Prize for her biography Wright Patman: Populism, Liberalism, and the American Dream, and the Ima Hogg Historical Achievement Award for Outstanding Research on Texas History. She has been named the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Illinois Professor of the Year and won the most prestigious campus wide teaching award at McKendree College in 2001.

Lbj On a fence Sepia

Friends of the LBJ Library

When you become a member of the Friends of the LBJ Library, you'll be making an important contribution to the library's mission -- and to our community. You will also get special access to events.