BOSTON -- From the time he was a married and ambitious congressman until shortly after he became president, Lyndon B. Johnson conducted a secret affair with the beautiful mistress of a Texas newspaper publisher, biographer Robert A. Caro says.
The affair broke up, in large part, because Alice Glass disapproved of Johnson's decision to escalate the Vietnam War, which she called one of 'history's errors,' Caro said.
In an excerpt from his upcoming biography, 'The Years of Lyndon Johnson,' published this week in the Atlantic Monthly, Caro said Johnson and Miss Glass met frequently, beginning in the late 1930s, at the palatial estate of Charles E. Marsh, then publisher of the Austin American-Statesman.
While carrying on the affair, Johnson built a close and rewarding bond with Marsh -- repeatedly asking his advice in personal and political matters, inflating the publisher's ego, Caro said.
Miss Glass, who is now dead, first became Johnson's admiring protege in 1937, teaching him table manners and ways to improve his appearance, the article said.
A small-town girl who grew into a dazzling, sophistocated beauty, she also attempted to educate Johnson in literature, reading him poetry at the Marsh estate known as Longlea, it said.
Their affair began in 1939 and continued into the early years of Johnson's presidency, Caro said. Miss Glass eventually married Marsh - and remarried several times thereafter.
She told friends she burned the love letters Johnson had written her because she didn't want her granddaughter to know she had been associated with the man Miss Glass considered responsible for the Vietnam War, the article said.
Marsh became an ardent LBJ backer and didn't bother to hide his bias in the pages of the American-Statesman, writing several articles himself.
'He would call up (managing editor) Charlie Green and say, 'I want a box on the front page!' and he'd dictate something for Johnson,' said Miss Glass' sister, Mary Louise.
But during the years of their romance, Johnson took an extraordinary chance with his political fortunes at home, the article said.
An unidentified man familiar with the affair said Johnson was 'taking one hell of a risk.'
'Knowing Lyndon, I could hardly belive he was taking a chance like that. It just didn't fit in with the Lyndon Johnson I knew. That was the only time -- the only time -- in Lyndon Johnson's whole life that he was pulled off the course he had set for himself,' he said.