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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon…

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Robert A. Caro (Author)

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1,2363512,071 (4.57)89
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)
Title:The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV
Authors:Robert A. Caro (Author)
Info:Vintage (2013), Edition: Illustrated, 768 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro (2012)


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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Every volume in this series has been fantastic. I cannot wait for the fifth and purported final edition. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
I began my journey through Caro's four volumes of "The Years of Lyndon Johnson" on June 10, 2018. Today is September 6, 2018. So for almost three months I've plowed through the 2,500 pages ... and relished every page. The series is a monumental achievement, and as Caro says, what began as a planned 3-volume work, later stretched to four volumes and, now, he said to Brian Lamb of C-Span, he hopes he can finish a fifth volume: "Well, I've done almost all of the research already. I've written about 400 typed pages of it. I have one more big thing of research to do" ... and that is to visit Vietnam.

I hope so too. And I can't wait to get my hands on it. ( )
  markburris | Jul 11, 2021 |
Caro's narrative is absolutely astonishing in its detail, in this and previous volumes, describing in sufficient depth the people and contextual details that make sense of and provide a framework for understanding not only what LBJ did, but why, how, and importantly with or against whom. This book charts the political battles that led to his surprising acceptance of the vice president nomination and ultimate election, and his subsequent sidelining in the Kennedy administration. Only in this volume did I realize that an as yet unpublished 5th book is forthcoming. Given the amazing transformation of LBJ from an all but discarded and humiliated vice president to a masterful, decisive, and effective President, the denouement of this known saga will inevitably be sad and dispiriting. Can't wait! ( )
  wildh2o | Jul 10, 2021 |
This great doorstop of a biography (volume #4 in Caro’s magnum opus on Lyndon Johnson) for a long time. So when it showed up on a “buy one, get one free” sale on Audible, I decided to try the spoken product. And I am so glad I did.

We follow LBJ through the 1960 Presidential campaign where Johnson dithered away his chances to mount a meaningful Presidential run and then, to everyone’s astonishment, gave up his powerful position as Majority Leader of the Senate to run for the Vice Presidency with JFK.

And what a trial the Vice Presidency turns out to be. It really does seem like it’s “not worth a warm bucket of spit.” But then comes the fateful day in Dallas, and all that changes in the blink of an eye, and Johnson comes into his own.

Her is LBJ with all his flaws exposed, but still a towering political figure cajoling, twisting arms and even threatening as he strong arms the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964. Where JFK was unable to deal effectively with Congress, Johnson knows exactly what to do, and proceeds with a vengeance.

This volume ends just before the 1964 Presidential campaign and left me hoping that Caro hurries up and finishes the last volume in this story. ( )
  etxgardener | May 17, 2021 |
At this point in the series, you'll have made up your mind on Lyndon B. Johnson's character whether you wanted to or not. Caro has been so determined to show every wart, flaw, and imperfection he has that Robert Kennedy's verdict of "formidable but flawed, powerful but dangerous" is the default prism you view his every action through. This volume concentrates on both the lowest period of LBJ's adult life - the three long, painful years as John F Kennedy's ignored and ridiculed Vice President - and its highest, as he led the nation through the difficult first seven weeks after Kennedy's assassination and began to implement and extend his stalled bills in Congress. That "led the nation" phrase is key, as one of the eye-opening statistics that Caro reveals is that in the three days after Dallas, a solid majority of the entire nation was watching details of the murder on television, giving Johnson a position as national steward that no President had ever had before, and as events would make clear, would never have again. It's weird to look back on those days where the President was a sort of father figure to the country; that LBJ was one of the Presidents most responsible for that changing makes it all the more jarring. As far as continuity with the previous volumes goes, Caro continues to tell the story of the country in these years in large part through Johnson's character and personal qualities. I've always had philosophical issues with biographies and histories that lean too much toward the Thomas Carlyle-style "great man" approach, but Caro's writing style and ability to convey the high drama of the period still feels right, because even the small details of his relationships with the other famous figures herein have had lasting significance. He's toned down the mini-biographies, spending just a few pages on better-documented people like JFK and RFK, and even relative unknowns like Harry F Byrd are quickly summed up instead being given the monumental digressions on Richard Russell and Coke Stevenson in earlier volumes. Part of the reason is that we're now reaching the point where this history is relatively well-known to everyone and there's simply too much epic, Shakespearean conflict to waste time: the bitter competition between JFK and LBJ for the 1960 Presidential nomination, as LBJ's lust for the goal he had sought his entire life fought with his desperate need to never be seen as a loser; the even more bitter rivalry between him and RFK, so much his opposite in erudition and temperament yet so much his twin in determination and idealism; how unbelievably close an investigation into scandals around one of his protégés came to snaring himself before coming to a halt when he ascended to the Presidency; and how he was able to resurrect JFK's moribund legislative agenda with his long-dormant powers of persuasion; and then his 1964 State of the Union address with the first stirrings of the Great Society, the most visionary domestic agenda since FDR, and of the whole rest of the 20th century. The later parts where LBJ manages to get the tax bill and the civil rights bill moving along are the parts that I found most interesting, and that will probably be most relevant to people reading these books for lessons to apply today. The politics are fascinating; the debate over whether LBJ could get the budget under $100 billion to appease Senator Byrd and get him to stop blocking other bills would be interesting enough without curious political inversion whereby JFK's proposed tax cut was actually the liberal position, in an era where conservatives actually cared about the deficit. Additionally, since that was back in an era where parties weren't ideologically unified, Johnson's ability to craft coalitions by drawing on personal relationships is sure to bring back a lot of nostalgia for the kind of person who values bipartisanship in and of itself. Johnson himself of course did more than any other President to bring that to an end, a story which will have to be told in the next volume. As in the other volumes, this book is filled to bursting with layers of detail, insight, data, quotes, analysis, and scholarship. Also as in other volumes, there are the trademark emotional tenors that Caro imbues each scene with, as he tries to tell you not only what happened, but what it meant, and why it had to be viewed from that angle or heard in that pitch. Caro has been justly criticized for his ambivalent relationship to his subject and how that leaves the reader unsatisfied at times, but now that LBJ is finally in the position he's always dreamed of and is free to change the world for good or for ill, Caro's writing has returned to that peak of elegance and illumination that makes his books so addictive. The Passage of Power isn't quite the book that Master of the Senate was (I mean that literally: it's 500 pages shorter), but it's still a worthy part of the greatest biographical study of our times. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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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(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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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.

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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English

  • Format: ePub, txt, pdf, doc
  • Size: 7.74 Mb

    About the Book

    Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age.  A masterpiece.”
    The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964.  It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.
    By 1958, as Johnson began to maneuver for the presidency, he was known as one of the most brilliant politicians of his time, the greatest Senate Leader in our history. But the 1960 nomination would go to the young senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. Caro gives us an unparalleled account of the machinations behind both the nomination and Kennedy’s decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, revealing the extent of Robert Kennedy’s efforts to force Johnson off the ticket. With the consummate skill of a master storyteller, he exposes the savage animosity between Johnson and Kennedy’s younger brother, portraying one of America’s great political feuds. Yet Robert Kennedy’s overt contempt for Johnson was only part of the burden of humiliation and isolation he bore as Vice President. With a singular understanding of Johnson’s heart and mind, Caro describes what it was like for this mighty politician to find himself altogether powerless in a world in which power is the crucial commodity.
                For the first time, in Caro’s breathtakingly vivid narrative, we see the Kennedy assassination through Lyndon Johnson’s eyes. We watch Johnson step into the presidency, inheriting a staff fiercely loyal to his slain predecessor; a Congress determined to retain its power over the executive branch; and a nation in shock and mourning. We see how within weeks—grasping the reins of the presidency with supreme mastery—he propels through Congress essential legislation that at the time of Kennedy’s death seemed hopelessly logjammed and seizes on a dormant Kennedy program to create the revolutionary War on Poverty. Caro makes clear how the political genius with which Johnson had ruled the Senate now enabled him to make the presidency wholly his own.  This was without doubt Johnson’s finest hour, before his aspirations and accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam.
                In its exploration of this pivotal period in Johnson’s life—and in the life of the nation—The Passage of Power is not only the story of how he surmounted unprecedented obstacles in order to fulfill the highest purpose of the presidency but is, as well, a revelation of both the pragmatic potential in the presidency and what can be accomplished when the chief executive has the vision and determination to move beyond the pragmatic and initiate programs designed to transform a nation.  It is an epic story told with a depth of detail possible only through the peerless research that forms the foundation of Robert Caro’s work, confirming Nicholas von Hoffman’s verdict that “Caro has changed the art of political biography.”
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