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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson IV [Kindle Edition]

Robert A. Caro
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (685 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.95
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Book Description



ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR  The Economist * Time *Newsweek * Foreign Policy * Business Week * The Week * The Christian Science Monitor * Newsday

The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and most triumphant period of his career—1958 to 1964. An unparalleled account of the battle between Johnson and John Kennedy for the 1960 presidential nomination, of the machinations behind Kennedy's decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, and of Johnson’s powerlessness and humiliation in that role. With the superlative skills of a master storyteller, Caro exposes the savage animosity between Johnson and Robert Kennedy, portraying one of America’s great political feuds.
     In Caro's description of the Kennedy assassination, which The New York Times called "the most riveting ever," we see the events of November 22, 1963, for the first time through Lyndon Johnson’s eyes. And we watch as his political genius enables him to grasp the reins of the presidency with total command, and, within weeks, make it wholly his own, surmounting unprecedented obstacles in order to fulfill the highest purpose of the office. It is an epic story, displaying all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim The Years of Lyndon Johnson as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age.”

Editorial Reviews Review

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

From Bookforum

Lyndon Johnson was a figure of immense gifts and horrendous flaws, and I doubt any writer will ever capture the arc of his triumphant and ultimately tragic life so well again. — Michael Kazin

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
327 of 356 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb entry in a masterful series May 1, 2012
Thirty years have passed sine the publication of The Path to Power, the first of what Robert Caro had envisioned would be a three-volume biography of America's 36th president. This, his fourth volume, ends in the first months of Johnson's presidency, and Caro's assertion that this is the penultimate volume is a little hard to swallow given the thoroughness he has covered his subject's life even before reaching his time in the White House (with a third of this book's 700+ pages chronicling just the first four months as president). Yet Caro has sacrificed brevity for a detailed portrait of irony in his depiction of a master of political power who suddenly found himself deprived of it.

Caro begins with Johnson at the height of his success in the Senate. Still only in his second term, he had taken the weak position of Senate Majority Leader and turned it into the second most powerful office in national politics, thanks largely to his enormous personal and legislative abilities. But Johnson had his eye on an even larger prize: the presidency itself, an office he had aspired to for decades and which in 1960 seemed to many to be his for the taking. Yet Johnson hesitated to commit himself to the race, fearing the humiliation of a defeat. This created an opening that John F. Kennedy eagerly exploited. With his brother Robert collecting commitments in the west - a region critical to Johnson's chances - Kennedy outmaneuvered the Texas senator and won the nomination, demonstrating just how completely Johnson had misjudged his opponent.

Yet for Johnson a new opportunity presented itself when Kennedy offered him the vice presidential nomination during the convention.
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135 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those of us who have read the previous volumes of Robert Caro's portrait of the life of Lyndon Johnson, we have all eagerly awaited this the latest installment. When the author first began writing what has become the definitive biography of the 36th President, he was basically vilified by scholars as getting it wrong. With each passing year, and volume, historians have come over to Caro's side of the story in troves. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power can either be read as part of the anthology or as a standalone story of Johnson's years during the Vice Presidency, and his ascension to the oval office upon the tragic death of John Kennedy.

Either way, you are in for a real treat. Many readers agree that writing doesn't get any better than this, and the proof is that Caro's writings have stood the test of time, and his reputation has simply gotten bigger. This is 605 pages (736 with footnotes) of detailed writing that any student of that period will cherish. The first half of the book, over 300 pages is dedicated to the last two Senate years, and the Vice Presidential years when LBJ lived the most down in the valley depressing type experience. He was ignored by the President, and castigated by young Robert Kennedy. Between the two of them Johnson's power had been castrated, and he was boxed into a small office. In a city where power was everything, Johnson now had none.

This is especially interesting in light of the heights from which he the former Senate Majority leader had fallen. Johnson as leader was considered the most powerful man in the Congress, with the White House held by the popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. Ike could get nothing done in the Democratic Congress without LBJ's help.
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98 of 115 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caro seems to be coasting on this one. May 27, 2012
I've now read all four volumes of Caro's LBJ biography, each one as soon as it came out. I recall even writing him a letter after the first one (who had e-mail in '83?) The Passage of Power was as readable as the three earlier ones, full of fascinating anecdotes and good comparisons of how LBJ understood and used power compared to the Kennedys. Caro is able to weave his tale over familiar ground in such a way as to make the reader see RFK as rude, spoiled, ruthless, possessing almost no redeeming qualities, then generate some appreciation for his apparent concern for those less fortunate. He is able to present LBJ alternately as a contempible figure and as a wholly sympathetic person. My major complaint about the book (and I would give it 3 1/2 stars if it were possible) is that Caro seems to rehash too much from his earlier volumes, often referring the reader to particular pages to read more detail of a particular incident. He quotes himself frequently. I sometimes wondered while reading if he was running out of steam, proceeding with this book out of a sense of obligation to his readers and to his subject.
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97 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography at its Finest May 1, 2012
Caro has famously written few books in a long career as a biographer, but surely his series on Lyndon Baines Johnson, of which this is volume four, will be remembered as one of the finest in United States biography. Caro has spoken to everyone he could find, read every piece of paper he could locate, but that factual basis is not what makes this such an important biography. It is the immense depth of insight he has brought to the subject, a depth that provides a study of power in all of its guises. It is this analysis, written in clear crisp language that sets this book, and the others in the series (and Power Broker as well) apart from most biographies.

If you have never read Robert Caro before, take a few minutes and read the introduction to this book on your computer. Certainly many people, especially those who have no personal memory of the years covered in this book, might wonder why a slice of only a few years in the life of a not especially beloved President is worth reading. The answer is first that few US politician were as complex and bigger-than-life than LBJ. And most importantly, LBJ was, from a young age, possessed by a need for power and with a startling ability to work hard and concentrate on what he wanted, became a master of how to obtain power, Power. In doing so LBJ pushed himself further and further in and up the United States political power structure, improbably ending as President after the assassination of Kennedy. The fact that a poor, ill-educated, physically unattractive politician with a heavy Southern accent could attain the presidency says much about both the US and about LBJ.

Caro has captured that time in US culture and politics, and his subject, LBJ, with astute observations, particularly about power.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this biography
I enjoyed this biography. Robert Caro uses extensive description; reader might care to know that he does get bogged down occasionally.
Published 21 hours ago by candace laVigne La Vigne
5.0 out of 5 stars Was the first of this set that I have read and was better than I...
Read as an audio book. Was the first of this set that I have read and was better than I thought it would be. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Franklin
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Tremdous amount of redundant information made the reading difficult at times.
Published 7 days ago by Albert Greco
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece
Fair and balanced account of the most fascinating American political history post-ww2. Caro captures the unbelievable circumstances of late 1963 with elegance and precision,
Published 9 days ago by Isaac Pesin
5.0 out of 5 stars ... maintain Master Of the Senate is one of the greatest political...
I still maintain Master Of the Senate is one of the greatest political stories ever told. This is a close second however
Published 10 days ago by lindi
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
An interesting portrait of LBJ and the detailed description of the JFK-LBJ-Robert Kennedy interaction makes for some fascinating reading.
Published 12 days ago by Gil Ghitelman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great.
This is what happens when an author steeps himself in his work. Everything about this book is satisfying, deep and rich. Read more
Published 25 days ago by JLafayette
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed many of my opinions of him to the much better!
Well researched as it was a learning discovery of the real LBJ for me! Changed many of my opinions of him to the much better!
Published 1 month ago by Chuck.
5.0 out of 5 stars Six stars
I believe Caro’s earlier volumes of Johnson’s life be the best political biography I have ever read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Richard Prebble
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by AZ21412
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Topic From this Discussion
Lyndon Johnson was at the epicenter of the JFK assassination
Thanks, Robert! I'm glad you posted this list in a discussion; I was afraid someone might have missed it from all of the reviews you appended it to. And since you like lists of books on the Kennedy assassination, here's one of my own:

[[ASIN:0312082576 The Warren Commission Report: Report of the... Read More
May 13, 2012 by MarkK |  See all 4 posts
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