I enjoyed all 30+ hours of this magnificent book - it was compelling material and the narrator's style was engaging. Highest recommendation.
As in the rest of the series, Caro pulls out a lot of detail. That detail, combined with the drama of the period...the suspense of the impending Kennedy assassination while an investigation of Johnson's finances gains momentum and Johnson is exiled from the Kennedy administration, the great ironies in Johnson's accomplishments early in his presidency and the methods he used to get them, and the drama of the bitter LBJ/RFK relationship all make this the best of the Caro series and one of the best history books I have ever read.
The Passage to Power is a fascinating review of a period of history that most Americans, of a certain age, remember vividly. It is a history of Johnson and the Kennedys at their best and at their worst.
There have been MANY book written about this period and MANY books written about the Kennedys and about Lyndon Johnson this book does it as well as any I have read.
Very well written, factual and deeply engaging history. Made me long for the endless traffic jams and lost hours of my commute just so I could get back into the drama.
Grover Gardner did his usual impeccable job of narration, but had one howler repeated several times. Referring to a group of cattle, he pronounced "Hereford heifers" as "HAIRY-ford HIGH-fers." Down on the LBJ Ranch they would say "HUR-ford HEFF-ers." This is not the strongest book in the series; I hope Robert Caro is not wearing out. He dismisses Johnson's possible involvement in either the JFK assassination or the subsequent cover-up in a couple of paragraphs, although the first section of the book provides Johnson with a surfeit of motive, consiglieri Ed Clark could have provided the means, and what better opportunity than a motorcade on Johnson's home turf to "take care of business"? Caro has done detailed research on Johnson's high crimes and misdemeanors (mainly extortion, influence-peddling, and fraud in this volume), but nonetheless adopts a hagiographic tone when referring to Johnson's legislative efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For the first time in the series, Caro steps out of his role as impartial historian and acknowledges his own political views, writing with fervent approval of Johnson's Great Society programs and the "institutionalization of compassion" (an oxymoronic phrase if ever there was one). Still packed with fascinating details and a host of minutiae on Johnson and his era, this book suffers from an excessive focus on raw policy rather than the personalities and events that influenced policy. The Vietnam fiasco and Johnson's micro-mismanagement of the war should provide more spice in the next volume than the dry legislative issues in this one. I hope Robert Caro can hold on and hold out. He is 76 this year and looks every bit his age in recent photographs. These books are a monumental work and I hope Caro can complete the series and cement his legacy as the greatest biographer of our time.
The length of this book may be off-putting to some readers, but once you start reading it, you will find it to be as compelling as anything you have ever read. So many biographies are dry affairs that feel like homework, but Caro has written a page turner! I lived though all of this history, but Robert Caro brings it the era alive like nothing I have ever read before. The previous books were great also, but this covers one of the most fascinating times in the history of the United States. A beloved president assassinated in Dallas, with a man who was reviled in the White House for the previous 3 years assuming the mantle of leadership. Caro's depth of analysis, and ability to provide new insight into the time is like nothing I have ever read before.
Not historically a reader of, or particularly knowledgeable about, American history, I read an excerpt of this book that appeared in the New Yorker. It was riveting.
And now I can say the rest of the story is equally so. This may be my favorite audio book yet, not to mention one of the best books of any genre I've encountered recently.It is almost incomprehensible that so detailed an account of such a short period of time (this volume focuses mainly on a period lasting a mere seven months) could be so deeply engrossing.
While listening to it, everything else in my life became just time I was NOT spending listening. It blew my mind.
Mr. Gardner, the narrator, gave a flawless, pitch-perfect performance.
I feel better off for having experienced this book, and fully intend to devour everything else by Robert Caro that Audible has to offer.
This is the story of the relationship between LBJ and the Kennedys. LBJ was Texan with a straight forward personality who was brought up from poverty, knew what he wanted, and got it. The Kennedys, born into wealth and prestige, never had to work a day in their lives, with no real focus or overarching goals. If the Kennedys had enlisted the help of LBJ rather than to exhile him from the administration, perhaps JFK's presidency could have been monumental. But the Kennedys were too arrogant to ask for help from Rufus Cornpone. JFK is probably one of the least accomplished presidents of our time, although his loyalists went forth to write book after book, to establish the Kennedy mantra, to synthesize the history of Kennedy for the poor and downtrodden. LBJ is obsessed with civil rights and helping the poor, as a consequence of his upbringing in poor rural Texas. He accomplished more in the 11 days after the assassination than the entire Kennedy presidency. The Kennedys squandered their power on petty hates such as trying to pin something on Hoffa, or assassination plots and coups. RFK says during LBJ period of success with Great Society that it is all the work of JFK. JFK just didnt have enough time. There is a lot here I never heard before. LBJ bringing foreign dignitaries to his ranch to eat spare ribs with no silverware. LBJ, who was in such a manic state after the assassination, that he has to have a cabinet member stay with him until he falls asleep, calling him back several times "I am not asleep yet". The political mechanics of the 1960 nomination explained, as well as how LBJ gets a bill through congress (1964 tax cut bill). What is left out here is Vietnam, because that is the subject of the next book. I was surprised how little was said about Vietnam, especially given that much of the history of the late 60's in Vietnam stems from JFK decisions and involvement in the coup to topple Diem. Absolutely enthralling.
Its hard to imagine a more absorbing, detail rich, thorough and compelling work of biography and history. Robert Caro takes his time in getting his writing out but it is well worth the wait. The examination of Lyndon Johnson as a politician and complex human being and the impact of his earlier life experiences on his decision making and relationships with other major political figures, particularly Robert Kennedy is masterly. I was inspired to re-read his earlier books in this series. I noticed some one star ratings for this book and can't imagine how that could have happened. I can't wait for the final installment in this series. It doesn't get any better.
Middlemarch, Middlesex, Middlebrow
Caro continues his LBJ saga with even greater scope as the Man attains supreme power, but none of the detail and texture is lost. The writing is repetitive and can verge on bombast, but this is still biography at its very finest and great literature by any standard.