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From as far back as his teenage years, Lyndon Johnson wanted to be US president. Every step he took was calculated to serve that purpose. That he was a nobody from a nowhere town in Texas didn’t deter him for a moment. There was just one period in his life — from 1941, when he lost an election for a seat in the US Senate, to 1947, when he stood successfully for the same seat — during which he believed his dream had been thwarted. In those years, he instead used the political connections he had acquired to become a millionaire. Deploying his inside knowledge of the broadcast regulatory authority, he bought a local radio station for a fraction of its real value. Then he used his connections in Washington to get big national broadcasters to cycle famous programmes through his little Texan station. By the time he returned his focus to becoming president, the radio station was no longer small and Johnson was rich. Hearing this story, it is hard not to think of Cyril Ramaphosa. By 1994, h...

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