Around the World with LBJ
My Wild Ride as Air Force One Pilot, White House Aide, and Personal Confidant
James U. Cross, Brigadier General (retired) USAF
Narrated by Vernon Kuehn
Approximately 10 hours
Book published by University of Texas Press
When Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted to go somewhere, there was no stopping him. This dynamic president called for Air Force One as others summon a taxi—at a moment's notice, whatever the hour or the weather. And the man who made sure that LBJ got his ride was General James U. Cross, the president's hand-picked pilot, top military assistant, and personal confidante. One of the few Air Force One pilots to have a position, simultaneously, in the White House, General Cross is also the only member of LBJ's inner circle who has not publicly offered his recollections of the president. In this book, he goes on the record, creating a fascinating, behind-the-scenes portrait of America's complex, often contradictory, always larger-than-life thirty-sixth president.
General Cross tells an engrossing story. In addition to piloting Air Force One around the globe, he served President Johnson in multiple capacities, including directing the Military Office in the White House; managing a secret two-million-dollar presidential emergency fund; supervising the presidential retreat at Camp David, the president's entire transportation fleet, and the presidential bomb shelters; running the White House Mess; hiring White House social aides, including the president's future son-in-law, Charles Robb; and writing condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in Vietnam. This wide-ranging, around-the-clock access to President Johnson allowed Cross to witness events and share moments that add color and depth to our understanding of America's arguably most demanding and unpredictable president.
James U. Cross, Brigadier General (retired) USAF served as Lyndon Johnson's pilot from 1962 until mid-1968. Cross retired from the Air Force as a Brigadier General and commander of Bergstrom Air Force Base in 1971.
“What a delightful, honest, and entertaining story Jim Cross tells. Here is a man who was so close to power he would come down with a cold if the President sneezed (and could have brought a lot of us literally down with him), but he never forgot his roots in rural Alabama. A man whose daddy worked for the Horseshoe Lumber Company grows up to serve the most powerful man in the world, and his account of that amazing journey—some of it scarily bumpy, as I can testify—is a bird's-eye view, from the cockpit of Air Force One, of why character counts.”
“General Cross is an American hero and the hero of generations of Johnsons. Daddy used to say there are two types of people; the talkers and the doers. General Cross was always a "can do" presence in our lives. No job was too great or too small for God, country, and his friends. Jim Cross has led a dynamic life in service for others, and I have no doubt generations yet to come will be enriched by his worthy story, as our family always has been.”
—Luci Baines Johnson
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