46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III (Hardcover)Caro's work is amazing - again. Just as with the first two volumes of the life of Lyndon Johnson, Master of the Senate is a page turning epic, this time focusing on the United States Senate in the 1950s. Caro's description of Johnson's meteoric rise demonstrates the subject's brilliance in, first the attainment, and then the use, of power. One also comes away with the the unavoidable impression that this use of power was, primarily, for personal purposes.
Johnson is not a likeable character in any of the author's three volumes. Liar, cheater, overly sensitive, obsessed, cold, unfeeling, mean-spirited (read how he treats Lady Bird), all of these descriptions are appropriate. You might think that Caro does not like his subject and is tainted in his analysis. However, when you consider the amount of work and research that went into this offering, as well as the other volumes, it is hard to challenge the author's motivation or analysis. The three volumes taken together, to my mind, constitute the most thoroughly researched work on any political figure in American political history.
Do not be put off by the massiveness of the work. Unless you have a pretty open schedule it will take you sometime to get through the more than one thousand pages, but it is thoroughly enjoyable from cover to cover. The writing is as good as the research. And it is not just Johnson. Caro's mini-biography of Senator Russell of Georgia, which continues throughout the pages, is brilliant. His history of the Senate and its great figures, including Clay, Calhoun and Webster, which puts Johnson's actions into context, might be the single best part of the book (don't skip over it).
There is so much included in Master of the Senate, all of it worthwhile. I have not even mentioned the focus of the second half of the book featuring Johnson's efforts at passage of the Civil Rights Act. When you think of Johnson at the end of his career, bumbling his way through the Vietnam War disaster and sadly announcing his withdrawal from the 1968 Presidential race, you forget that he was one of the greatest politicians of the 20th Century. Not after you read this account. I can not recommend Master of the Senate enough.
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Initial post: May 17, 2009 5:24:00 AM PDT
Joe Butson says:
I would find it difficult to consider Johnson a bumbler in any way shape or form. Just because someone may not agree with his decisions and his politics, much like Caro does throughout this book, bias ought not to reduce Johnson's presidency.
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