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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon…
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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (2012)

by Robert A. Caro

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This is one book of a set of four that examine the life of LBJ. In this volume, LBJ is still a very power senator to his presidency after the assassination of JFK. The years covered are 1958 to 1964. This covered not only Lyndon Johnson but also John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and because I am a Minnesotan there is also a nice coverage of Humphrey.

I learned so much listening to this book. I learned about the magnitude of change that was occurring during this time period. The impact that media was playing in politics which I kind of knew but this really brought it home. I learned how the senate operates, the art of negotiation or twisting arms, the filibuster. Lyndon Johnson was a powerful senator but as a vice president he was without any power. Johnson returned to his former self after the assassination. There was no love lost between the Kennedys and Lyndon. Robert hated him with a passion. Lyndon was a good president; he brought more to civil rights than any other president and I don’t think Kennedy could have done what Lyndon was able to do because he knew how to make things happen in the senate, with the republicans, and he knew how to get the budget passed and the civil rights bill passed. The author does a very good job of covering both the good qualities and the bad qualities of these men. I think this was a fair and well written biography.

I was 5 years old in 1958 and in 1964, I was 11. This was a great book to start with because it actually covered two of the presidents that I have lived under. The quality of the narration was excellent and the writing made this book as easy to read as a good fiction. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 23, 2014 |
This is one of the great series of books the Robert Caro has written on the life, career and accomplishments of Lyndon Johnson. The book focuses on the frustrating period of his Vice Presidency to his ascendency to power after the death of John Kennedy. Johnson was the two term leader of the Senate and has trouble dealing with the Kennedy's stripping him of any modicum of power from a job that (VP) has virtually none already. There is also the blood feud between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy that starts from their first meeting and lasts till the end of their days. The most important part of the book deals with the months after Johnson becomes President in which he accomplished more in ten months than Kennedy did in three years and most presidents do in two terms. John is a very underrated president. Great research, wonderfully written Pulitzer Prize winner. ( )
  muddyboy | Nov 10, 2013 |
Magnificent. Equals Master of the Senate in quality and tops it with its narrative arc. Marvelous, lucid, probing, fair. The most upbeat of the volumes, but sets up the final book to be a supreme tragedy. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
This was the volume I had been most anticipating, covering the Kennedy assassination and the beginning of LBJ's presidency. Caro has not disappointed. It is ironic that Johnson, vicious, cruel, and interested only in furthering himself, should be the man the country needed to pull it together in the weeks following the assassination. His political genius enabled him to see what needed to be done and do it, calming fears of an international conspiracy and reassuring the country that Washington was in control. It is also ironic that after leading the Southern fight against civil rights legislation for decades, LBJ became the president who was able to pass the most sweeping rights bills since Reconstruction.
Caro details LBJ's vice presidency and his relations with the Kennedys, especially with Robert, with whom he shared an intense hatred. It is interesting for me to read an acount of the Kennedys during this time that was not written by one of their circle. He mentions that O'Donnell and others he consulted would not agree with everything he had written but his account is very credible.
My biggest criticism of [Master of the Senate] was his inclusion of material from previous volumes. He has done this much less in this volume, using footnotes to reference previous material. Caro has again accomplished both impressive scholarship and wonderful writing. ( )
  Oregonreader | Jul 13, 2013 |
a great bio of lbj from the years 1958 to 1965. very detailed and insighful about johnson, politics and the culture of the times. LBJ was a very complex man, he had a true passion for the poor, black people. Yet he was a man with a great passion for power. When he became president, he was at his lowest point in his political life. the bobby barker scandel was coming to light. it is very likely he would not been on the ticket for JFK re-election. he was very unhappy as vice president anyway. His greatest hours came when he became president. his leadership, his vision was remarkable LBJ did want no else could have done, get the voting rights bill and civil right bill through congress. I look forward to the next book covering LBJ from 64-68 ( )
  michaelbartley | Jun 29, 2013 |
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Robert Caro’s epic biography of Lyndon Johnson—this is the fourth volume of a planned five—was originally conceived and has been largely executed as a study of power. But this volume has been overtaken by a more pressing theme. It is a study in hate. The book’s impressive architectonics come from the way everything is structured around two poles or pillars—Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, radiating reciprocal hostilities at every step of the story. Caro calls it “perhaps the greatest blood feud of American politics in the twentieth century.” With some reservations about the word “blood,” one has to concede that Caro makes good his claim for this dynamic in the tale he has to tell.
 
What he did to advance civil rights and equal opportunity was too important. I remain grateful to him. L.B.J. got to me, and after all these years, he still does. With this fascinating and meticulous account of how and why he did it, Robert Caro has once again done America a great service.
 
At the heart of “The Passage of Power,” the latest installment of Robert A. Caro’s magisterial biography of Johnson, is the story of how he was catapulted to the White House in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination, how he steadied and reassured a shell-shocked nation, and how he used his potent political skills and the momentum generated by Kennedy’s death to push through Congress his predecessor’s stalled tax-cut bill and civil rights legislation and to lay the groundwork for his own revolutionary “war on poverty.”

It’s a breathtakingly dramatic story about a pivotal moment in United States history, and just as Johnson used his accumulated knowledge of the art of power to push the nation along the path he’d envisioned, so in these pages does Mr. Caro use the intimate knowledge of Johnson he’s acquired over 36 years to tell that story with consummate artistry and ardor, demonstrating a tirelessness — in his interviewing and dissection of voluminous archives — that rivals his subject’s.
 
Caro’s treatment of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis—and of the roles that Johnson and the Kennedy brothers (especially Robert Kennedy) played in the crisis—is, on several levels, simply wrong.
 
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For Ina
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For Barry, Shana and Jesse With love
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(Introduction) Air Force One, the President's plane, is divided, behind the crew's cockpit, into three compartments.
When he was young - seventeen and eighteen years old - Lyndon Johnson worked on a road gang that was building a highway (an unpaved highway: roads in the isolated, impoverished Texas Hill Country weren't paved in the 1920s) between Johnson City and Austin.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679405070, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2012: In the fourth volume of Caro’s ambitious, decades-long biographic exploration, Lyndon Johnson finally reaches the White House. At 600-plus pages, it’s a brick of a book, but it reads at times like a novel, and a thriller, and a Greek tragedy. Caro's version of JFK's assassination is especially chilling, and the characters—not just LBJ, but the Kennedys and the power brokers of Washington --are downright Shakespearean. --Neal Thompson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:26 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Pulitizer Prize biographer Robert A. Caro follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career, describing Johnson's volatile relationship with John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy during the fight they waged for the 1960 Democratic nomination for president, through Johnson's unhappy vice presidency, his assumption to the presidency after Kennedy's assassination, his victories over the budget and civil rights, and the eroding trap of Vietnam.… (more)

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