Johns’ work is an overdue, a significant addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War, and one that elucidates a relevant lesson for contemporary politics on the struggle over virtue and loyalty. Only someone as skilled as Andrew Johns could have written such an accessible and compelling book in such a succinct manner.
Johns explores how Hubert Humphrey’s (1911–78) hopes of making a difference as vice president (1965–69) went wrong, and how his hawkish support of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam policy fatally damaged his run for the presidency against Richard Nixon in 1968. The author shows how Johnson persistently ignored the vice president’s recommendations and kept him out of policy discussions on Vietnam. He didn’t support Humphrey in his run for president, going so far as to hold backdoor discussions with Nixon while hiding information from his own party’s candidate. Meanwhile, Humphrey enthusiastically supported the administration’s war policy, only distancing himself when it was too late to make a difference. The book starts with a summation of Humphrey’s career in the Senate (1949–64), but the primary focus is on his relationship with Johnson, which the describes as merely transactional. Johns ends with a brief account of Humphrey’s return to the Senate in 1971, where he served until his death in 1978. For scholars of both the period and the career of Humphrey.
Andy Johns’ The Price of Loyalty is a significant addition to the historiography of the 1960s and in particular, the Vietnam War. It is well researched and persuasively argued and will be the standard for many years on the topic of Hubert Humphrey and his tortuous relationship to the conflict.