Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2003
National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2002Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson's brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history and how he used his incomparable legislative genius, cajoling and threatening both Northern liberals and Southern conservatives, to pass the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction. Brilliantly weaving rich detail into a gripping narrative, Caro gives us both a galvanizing portrait of Johnson himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings of legislative power.
©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc.; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
"Mesmerizing....A tale rife with drama and hypnotic in the telling." (Newsweek)
"A panoramic study....Combining the best techniques of investigative reporting with majestic storytelling ability, Caro has created a vivid, revelatory institutional history as well as a rich hologram of Johnson's character." (The New York Times)
"Caro must be America's greatest living Presidential biographer....No other contemporary biographer offers such a complex picture of the forces driving an American politician, or populates his work with such vividly drawn secondary characters." (BusinessWeek)
Robert Caro is a thorough researcher and has a lively writing style. Lyndon Johnson was a complex person and a consummate politician. How such a politician gets and uses power makes a compelling story. I cannot think of a book that gives a comparable insight into how the Senate works. Because the book is 1100 pages long one hesitates to take it on. Having it read by a fine reader made it easier, much easier. Grover Gardner has a pleasant voice and his insightful reading brings out the drama in the story. I looked forward to having Caro and Gardner's company as I put myself through my exercise paces. Sometimes I kept on walking the treadmill because the story was too engrossing to shut down.
A detailed history not only of Senator Johnson, but of the Senate, its workings and history, as well.
Did not read the print. I like listening better than reading. Can do in the car.
Stories of LBJ and Richard Russel. Background of how the southern senators "owned " the senate. Founding fathers intent to create a voter independent body.
Story comes alive.
The Intentional Baracade
Get your friends to read it. If you like history, without being bored - go for it.
If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, make the leap; you won't regret it. Caro is a master, plain and simple. It reads both in micro (sentences that'll make you want to read/hear/say them again, just because) and macro (big, multi-threaded narratives, effortlessly, with a great storyteller's ear). Barbara Tuchman said that great history writing should also be great writing. Folks, this is what she was talking about.
I'm getting smarter by the chapter, and enjoying every minute of it. And I'll remember it too, because great language works that way.
Mr. Caro, my hat is off to you.
I'll say that I'm a little envious of Grover Gardner, who does a superb job. Getting paid to read this is a really good gig, and we sense his enjoyment throughout as he rises to the occasion.
I had my eye on this book for a year or longer but the idea of reading about the Senate kept me away. How could the Senate be interesting? I hate politicians! Plus the cover is so bland and uninteresting. Yet, there were consistently very good reviews so I gave Volume 1 a try. I was very pleasantly surprised and could understand why the book was so highly rated. It is a very good read. After having listened to Volume 1 I purchased Volumes 2 and 3 and enjoyed them all. I believe Volume 1 was the best book of the three but I had to finish the story after having begun it. I am now more firmly entrenched in my belief that politicians are corrupt and self-serving. Johnson was even more corrupt, power hungry and self-serving than I had thought but Caro tells the story of many people and how they intertwined in LBJ's life so it is an ongoing and interesting tale of big-time politics in the forties and fifties.
I can't recommend this book high enough. Master of the Senate is rich with history of not only Johnson's time in the Senate, but with a history of how the structure of the Senate and other branches of government work together. If that sounds a little boring, don't be mislead. This book is written in a way that makes the complex machinations of Washington politics alive and rich.
It also follows Johnson's personal rise in politics and is relevant today because it gives us an example of how someone gains and uses power. The specific details of history may change, but human nature doesn't, so it provides a perspective on events happening at this very moment in local, national, and global politics.
I've read the first two volumes (Path to Power, and Means of Ascent) in print. Unfortunately, they are not available from audible.com at this time. Luckily you can safely read just Master of the Senate without having read the first 2 volumes. (I agree with the first reviewer here, Audible, please add these fantastic books.)
Be warned though, there is an abridged version here on audible.com as well as the unabridged. Look for the 3 volume set to get the full story.
This is an example of the great value of the audiobook format. It allows you to digest massive narrative history--even while multitasking. The narration is distinctive and very consistent.
The first volume of Caro's 3 volume set on LBJ was one of the best biographies I have read. Volume 2, ostensibly covering LBJ's tenure in the Senate from 1948-60, doesn't come close. The first 15% or so of the book is a very good history of the U.S. Senate. The majority of the remainder covers the battle to get civil rights legislation passed in the 50's despite the insurmountable barrier of the filibuster relentlessly pursued by the Southern states' democrats, the LBJ tie in largely built around his rapid ascendancy to positions of authority in the Senate and his ambition to become President driving him to eventually force the compromise legislation of 1957. Perhaps the Texas Hill Country and FDR contexts of vol. 1 were simply more interesting than the curmudgeonly old fools of the Senate and the sad but familiar stories of racial discrimination that proliferated virtually unchecked into the latter half of the 20th Century. I have my doubts about the third volume now, and might recommend instead reading vol. 1 then the first 150 pages or so of vol. 2, then switching to the D.K. Goodwin book.
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