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The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1) Paperback – February 17, 1990

4.7 out of 5 stars 752 ratings



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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The profound understanding of the uses and abuses of power Robert Caro displayed in his 1974 biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, is a scathing achievement the author surpassed with panache in this, his second book. Caro's dogged research and refusal to accept received wisdom results in an eye-opening portrait that unforgettably captures the titanic personality of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973). Though stronger on Johnson's duplicity and naked self-promotion than his intelligence and charm, Caro nails it all. He chronicles the evolution of an attention-demanding youth from the Texas hill country into a seasoned congressman who would abandon his ardent espousal of the New Deal as soon as it ceased to be expedient. The dirty details begin with college elections that earn young Lyndon a reputation as a crook and a liar; Caro goes on to unravel financial shenanigans of impressive ingenuity. Johnson's consuming desire to get ahead and his political genius "unencumbered by philosophy or ideology" are staggering. The White House, Great Society, and Vietnam lie ahead when the main narrative closes in 1941, but the roots of Johnson's future achievements and tragic failures are laid bare. This biography may well stand as the best book written in the second half of the 20th century about personal ambition inextricably linked with historic change. --Wendy Smith

Review

"Proof that we live in a great age of biography . . . [a book] of radiant excellence . . . Caro's evocation of the Texas Hill Country, his elaboration of Johnson's unsleeping ambition, his understanding of how politics actually works are—let it be said flat out—at the summit of American historical writing." —The Washington Post

"A monumental political saga . . . powerful and stirring. It's an overwhelming experience to read The Path to Power." —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"Epic. A brief review cannot convey the depth, range and detail of this fascinating story. Caro is a meticulous historian. Every page reflects his herculean efforts to break through the banalities and the falsehoods previously woven around the life of Lyndon Johnson . . . combines the social scientist's interest in power with the historian's concern with theme and context, the political scientist's interest in system, and the novelist's passion to reveal the inner workings of the personality and relate them to great human issues . . . A monument of interpretive biography." —Michael R. Beschloss, Chicago Sun-Times Book Week

"Not only a historical but a literary event. An epic biography . . . A sweeping, richly detailed portrait . . . vivid [with] Caro's astonishing concern for the humanity of his characters. An awesome achievement." —Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek

"Stands at the pinnacle of the biographical art." —Donald R. Morris, Houston Post

"The major biography of recent years. Brilliant . . . Magisterial . . . Caro has given us an American life of compelling fascination. A benchmark beside which other biographies will be measured for some time to come." —Alden Whitman, Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"An ineradicable likeness of an American giant. Caro has brought to life a young man so believable and unforgettable that we can hear his heartbeat and touch him. If an earlier famous Johnson had his Boswell, and Abraham Lincoln his Sandburg, LBJ has found a portraitist who similarly will owe his fame to his great subject and his certitude in taking control of it." —Henry F. Graff, Professor of History, Columbia University

"Splendid and moving. At this rate Caro's work will eventually acquire Gibbon-like dimensions, and Gibbon-like passion. . . . Caro is a phenomenon . . . an artful writer, with a remarkable power to evoke and characterize politicians, landscapes, relationships. This massive book is almost continually exciting." —Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"By every measure—depth of research, brilliance of conception, the seamless flow of the prose—it is a masterpiece of biography." —Dan Cryer, Newsday

"Extraordinary. A powerful, absorbing, at times awe-inspiring, and often deeply alarming story. A vivid picture of the emergence of one of this century's authentically great politicians." —Alan Brinkley, Boston Sunday Globe

"The book races at Johnson's own whirlwind pace. A tour de force that blends relentless detective work, polemical vigor and artful storytelling into the most compelling narrative of American political life since All the King's Men." —Henry Mayer, San Francisco Chronicle

"A landmark in American political biography. The definitive life of LBJ. Caro has written a Johnson biography that is richer and fuller and may well be one of the freshest and most revealing studies ever written about a major historical figure." —Steve Neal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Magnificent. For understanding our recent past and the men and policies that brought the country to its present condition and aimed us toward whatever our future is to be, it's an immensely important work." —Bryan Woolley, Dallas Times Herald

"A brilliant and necessary book. There are whole and fascinating areas in Johnson's life that no one else discovered." —Merle Miller, front page, Chicago Tribune Book World

"This is a watershed book. Caro writes with sweep and passion. From the first sentence I was hooked. All other biographies of Johnson pale in comparison." —Joseph P. Lash

"Engrossing and revealing. This fascinating, immensely long and highly readable book is the fullest account we have—and are ever likely to have—of the early years of LBJ." —David Herbert Donald, front page, The New York Times Book Review

"A superb and unique biography . . . Meticulous in research, grand in scale, this is a major work that will remain a tower of its kind."—Barbara Tuchman


Product details

  • Publisher : Vintage (February 17, 1990)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 960 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0679729453
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0679729457
  • Item Weight : 2.6 pounds
  • Dimensions : 6.07 x 1.61 x 9.17 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 752 ratings

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
752 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Mat
5.0 out of 5 stars EDITED - Superb book - but avoid the Pimlico paperback.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 11, 2019
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7 people found this helpful
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The Furrowed Brow
4.0 out of 5 stars As good as everyone says but ......
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2019
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5 people found this helpful
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William Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars a great biography of Lyndon Johnson's first 31 years
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2013
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7 people found this helpful
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M. T. MCGHEE
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely compelling!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 1, 2013
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Javier O'Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insight into President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2015
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