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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV Paperback – May 7, 2013
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The documentation in this volume is a testament to the almost superhuman self discipline of Johnson. For the period when he was the vice president to JFK, he was belittled, insulted, humiliated and, in toda's lingo, 'disrespected'. His treatment under the JFK administration illustrates the immaturity of John Kennedy, and even more, his brother, Bobby. The sadness is that LBJ could have accomplished so much on the legislative side for JFK and he was ready to do it. Perhaps after his behavior in the Senate, this was simply karma coming back around, I don't know. But to have to live through the treatment he received at the hands of the Kennedys (not to mention their condescension toward Lady Bird) and yet never, ever showing ugliness in return in either words or deeds, is truly remarkable. Equally amazing is how LBJ transformed himself literally in an hour or two after the assassination.
Mr. Caro is in his eighties; at the rate at which he releases these books I have real doubts he'll see LBJ through to the end. It's my hope that, if he doesn't, someone can take up; Ina's research and get LBJ through his presidency. However, even if that doesn't happen, the volumes he's written will continue to stand alone, unique in not only political biographies but all biographies.
This fourth volume covers a very narrow period of time from the late 1950s until late 1964. However, in this period, much happened. LBJ went from being a leader of the senate to the Vice President under JFK. Arguably, in this role, he was far from happy. Whereas he formerly wielded considerable power, now he was confined to a minor role. US Vice Presidents, despite being a heartbeat from the Presidency, are often given only ceremonial tasks. This was the case with LBJ.
Of course, when that heartbeat stopped with the assassination of JFK on that fateful day in Dallas, Johnson was thrust into a new role that he could never have really expected. He faced a critical task of binding the nation’s wounds whilst stepping into the shoes of a martyr. Johnson performed this task better than almost anyone could have imagined. It was undoubtedly Johnson’s shining career moment; the very zenith of his life. Johnson morphed from an often grubby politician into a statesman. He negotiated his budget through Congress and then nursed civil rights legislation into place. He undid decades of Jim Crow racism in the United States. He changed the country massively.
To any student of American history, this book is a masterpiece. Robert Caro has produced a work for the ages. I am eager to read his final volume. I trust this will come soon.
Much to many readers relief, this book is about 400 pages shorter than Master of the Senate and does not lose any of Caro’s detail. Because this is part of a series, if one has read the first three books, they will experience some overlap. Caro probably does this to ensure that one does not necessarily have to read the first three volumes. Although I wasn’t particularly bothered by this, it was a little jarring, but this could be because I read the previous three one after another.
Eagerly awaiting Volume Five.
BUT, if you read "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters" by James Douglass this book becomes a little diminished because of what it doesn't cover as opposed to what is covered in James Douglass' book.
I read Master of the Senate many years ago. That too was wonderful. It showed you can get things done as President--but at what price?? I look forward to his next and last LBJ book.
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There is some repetition but mainly this is a style of writing that is verbose.Read more