I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is a long book. Caro provides extended passages of background about a quarter of the book on the history of the Senate, from the great days of Webster, Clay and Calhoun to current times. He also went into detail about the architecture and seats in the Senate both before and after the War of 1812. Approximately half of the book covers in detail the epic battle over the 1957 Civil Rights Bill. Johnson’s magic is the main subject of the book: how he made things happen in the U.S. Senate. Johnson’s wheeling, threatening, stroking large egos, explaining why his goal was essential for the Country‘s good, he ran an institution that had never before been run by anyone.
“Master of the Senate” is the third volume of Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. I seem to be reading this series backwards as I started with Volume four. Caro presents a Johnson that is well rounded. We get to see him with all his warts and all, but also are given admiring recognition of all his accomplishments. Race was the great test for Johnson and the country during his years as Senate Majority leader 1955-61. Caro reveals the obstructed federal action on the cruel mistreatment of blacks in the South; no civil rights legislation had been enacted since 1875, at the end of the Reconstruction.
For years after Johnson entered the Senate in 1949, he mostly voted with the Southerners. He chose as his mentor senator Richard Russell of Georgia, one of the most powerful men in the Senate. Johnson’s friend Philip Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, kept telling Johnson he had to do something for civil rights. In 1957 President Eisenhower proposed Civil Rights Legislation. It appeared impossible to pass the legislation, but Johnson made it happen. Caro’s description of how he did it is masterly. His strategy was to persuade the Southerners that is was in their best interest to let something labeled civil rights go through. The Eisenhower bill was focused on the right to vote, which the South denied the blacks by force and trickery. Johnson weakened the bill but if he didn’t it would not pass. Johnson thought of it as a beginning as opening to further more meaningful legislation.
Caro shows how Johnson learned the rules of the Senate and then used them. He then learned about the men in the Senate, their vanities, frailties and their weakness. He then sold himself to each as their friend, political adviser, their sounding board their Mr.-Fix-it. He also found a way to bridge the chasm between the Southern Democrats and the Northern liberals. The author goes into detail about the Olds Hearing. I will never again watch a Senate hearing without remembering what Johnson did to this man. Olds was up for re-confirmation of the Utilities commission and Johnson destroyed the man accusing him of being a communist just so he could obtain the favor and backing of the Texas gas and oil companies. Johnson organized a sneak attack and controlled the whole hearing so the man could not have the opportunity to refute the charges.
Caro concludes that with the single exception of Lincoln, Johnson was the greatest white champion of blacks in American History. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.
I love the research put into this book and the way the story is told.
While I love the book, the fact that it is broken into three Audible recordings disgusts me so much that I am likely not to buy the remaining volumes in the set. If the first two books can be made into individual recordings, why must you make this one volume into three, except to milk the paying clients for more $$$?
Great book, so much information to gain.
The Leland Olds witch hunt is particularly memorably, though not for good reasons.
Ability to consume the entire book in a timely manner.
Leland Olds nomination fight, it turned my stomach something awful to hear how LBJ ruined a good man.
I'm really disappointed this book was not only broken into three volumes on Audible (two understandable, but three defies logic given how first two volumes were presented as one single volume), but also that the chapters aren't lined up with the chapter breaks on the recording. This was highly disappointing given how well the first two books in this series were arranged and aligned by chapter.
Yes. LBJ was a huge influence on my generation in a personal way. Few presidents affect so many individual American lives on such a significant personal level. He ruined or elevated people in life changing ways. This book helps show how he became who he was and what a mystery his inner self still is.
The other Caro books.
I think buying and listening to Caro's book on Robert Moses was a pretty extreme reaction.
Anyone who is interested in recent US history and a perspective of politics today would find this useful.
Be careful. Audible has separated this *single* book into three "volumes" so that you must spend three credits if you want to listen to the entire thing. Had I realized this, I probably would not have purchased it.
Mr Caso has written a book that every
Historian, student, and citizen should
Read. Master of the Senate is a
Masterpiece of information well presented as well as heart breaking
Mr Grover is more than a reader or
A voice.... He is a superb actor
You may regret listening to him as
This is a difficult story to swollow.
Very interesting. Enjoyed the level of detail and strong narrative.
It was, still, a political biography, however. If you like this kind of thing, you'll love this.
Unfortunate that Audible broke this title into 3 parts to make money even though all the other volumes in the series about LBJ are all one audiobook.
One way around this is to get the kindle version, then get whisper sync audio of the book at reduced price for the whole book!!
I have listened to all three volumes of Master of the Senate, and this review is for the whole thing. These books are terrific. Robert Caro has such a great feel for when to put in background information, and how much. It's a book about people as much as policies. I was glad another reviewer warned me about the long discourse on the history of the Senate at the beginning of the book, though, because I would have been wondering if I had the right book. But the history sets the scene, and Caro makes the history lesson extremely accessible and fascinating. Lyndon Johnson defies summarization in a paragraph, and I won't even try.No wonder Robert Caro couldn't do it in just one book. Caro gets down to the nitty-gritty of LBJ, every aspect of the man. If you are only going to read one book of Caro's, though (they're big!), I would read Passage of Power, which is the next one in the series, and is epic.
As an Aussie, I knew very little about LBJ but I had heard these Caro books were brilliant. How right that is. I particularly appreciated the depth of the background in the history and working of the US senate and Caro's portrayal of this complex and flawed man is unflinching and compelling. I highly recommend it for anyone, but for any politics tragic, it's an absolute must. Seven stars.