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Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1 | [Robert A. Caro]

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1

Master 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2003

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2002

Master 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.

This is Volume 1. Don't forget to listen to Master of the Senate, Volume 2 and Volume 3.

©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc.; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 05-18-12
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 05-18-12 Member Since 2007

    50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction

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    "DROP JAW AMAZING!!"

    This is the most popular book of the multi book johnson bio. Unfortunately many of the other books have yet to come to audible which is kind of unbelievable to me !! I cant rate this book highly enough. Its content is so incendiary and insightful, and the outstanding quality of the writing will spoil you. You will surly want to check out Caro's other masterpiece after this called THE POWER BROKER . These 2 books are truly must reads .
    There is one thing that is very wrong with this book and it bothers me greatly. it's that your paying 3 credits in the end for 1 book. This dividing books into volumes is a sneaky and unfortunately encroaching method of drawing out more of your credits than you may be fully aware of. This book isn't THAT long to fairly divide it up into ``volumes`` nor are many of the other books this has been increasingly done to.
    So lets call a spade a spade, Its a three credit book o.k.` I see Mcculloughs latest unabridged offerings are offered as 3 credit books with no shell game. those of us that spend freakishly long hours on this site have noticed this recent move to increase the credits for books in the above manners and more. email them and tell them this 3 credit crap is to much!! Thats at least $30 for 1 book! When it comes to that, its worth getting them from the library for free. I love this site, I have over 900 titles, The reason I keep spending all this money is because it has been good value. Theres no longer any point in continuing when so many of the titles double or triple in price.If their testing the waters to see what they can get away with,,the result will be the permanent loss of their most ardent subscribers.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Salt Lake City, UT United States 01-17-06
    Susan Salt Lake City, UT United States 01-17-06 Member Since 2005

    slc_reader

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    "Must"

    anyone interested in history, civil rights, politics, or psychology.
    The author does a great job showing the good, the bad and the ugly about LBJ, how government works, and ourselves. This title covers the 12 years Johnson was in the Senate and it is fascinating. There is a great history of the Senate to preface how Johnson changed it. It was so interesting to hear how the issues which were shaping the country played out in the halls of power. And after nearly 60 hours of listening I still can't figure him out. I also loved the reader. To me a good reader is one I'm totally unaware of. No phony accents or inappropriate inflections. I hope Audible gets the unabridged versions of the first two volumes of this work. I want more. I've wanted to read the series for years but never found the time. You don't need to read them in order, the author gives you what you need from the prior books to put these events into context. Loved it.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 06-23-07
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 06-23-07 Member Since 2001

    Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.

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    "Fascinating Biography!"

    Of all of the audiobooks I have heard over the past five or ten years that I have been listening to them, Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson--of which 'MASTER OF THE SENATE' is the third volume--is without a doubt the most interesting and worthwhile.

    Well-narrated, but above all, well researched and written so well as to command attention and create suspense better than most novels, I have never enjoyed any series of audiobooks more.

    This particular volume focuses on Johnson's Senate career and in particular his passage of the Civil Rights Voting Act.

    I cannot more highly recommend an audiobook than I do all of the volumes of this biography.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Boca Raton, FL, United States 10-23-09
    Ron Boca Raton, FL, United States 10-23-09 Member Since 2004
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    "Caro deliver's again"

    Robert Caro's "The Power Broker" was one of my favorite books. In spite of that, I was always hesitant to read Master of the Senate because of its sheer volume. "And who cares that much about Lyndon Johnson", I thought. Well, it was my loss. This is a spectacular book with a truly insightful reading by Grover Gardner. This is not just the story of Lyndon Johnson, it is the story of the Senate, and some gems of history, like the story of Leland Olds and Lyndon Johnson, that are as gripping as a novel. There were times during this book when I wanted to reach into the page and strangle Lyndon Johnson, and times when I thought he was the best thing the Senate has ever seen. This may be a long listen, but you won't be bored for a moment. One of the best books I've ever listened to. Having read this, I'm now disappointed that the first collection, "The Rise To Power" and the last one, "The Presidential Years", are not on tape.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Silver Spring, MD, United States 04-12-14
    Mike Silver Spring, MD, United States 04-12-14 Member Since 2009
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    "A masterful history of LBJ and the U.S. Senate"
    Would you listen to Master of the Senate again? Why?

    It's a 50 odd hour book, and I've listened to it twice. It is without question one of the best political biographies ever written. Moreover, while it never loses sight of LBJ, it's a tour de force in legislative tactics, legislative power, and the personalities that dominated the Senate in the middle of the 20th century, in the years immediately preceding the civil rights movement. Men who today are largely forgotten, but were giants in their era - Richard Russell, Everett Dirksen, Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson - come alive in its pages.


    What other book might you compare Master of the Senate to and why?

    Robert Caro is virtually unique in the way he approaches his subject. He takes nearly 15 years, on average, to write each of his books. His research is impeccable, and the way he approaches each of the major figures in the book -- often setting aside the narrative to devote 70, 80 pages to delve into them and probe who precisely they are and why they matter -- is really incredible. I'm not aware of any other other historian who takes such an approach. For an example, see the chapter on Richard B. Russell, the senior Senator from Georgia, the Chairman of the Senate's Southern Caucus, and, in Caro's term, the Greatest Field General of the Old South since Robert E. Lee. Wow.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Caro is an outstanding writer, but his books are not for everyone. His style of writing is incredibly indulgent. He takes a 1000 words to make a point that other biographers will make in 85. If you enjoy his writing, as I do, you'll love it. But it's not for everyone.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances 08-20-12
    Frances 08-20-12
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    "LBJ was not a nice man"

    This book tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about the Senate. While this is the third volume of Caro's exhaustive biography of Johnson, it works well as a stand alone volume. Caro is a painstaking researcher and his attention to detail is impressive.

    The reader, Grover Gardner, is wonderful as always.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 08-09-07
    Thomas Chapel Hill, NC, United States 08-09-07 Member Since 2006
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    "TOM"

    Very good book. I especially like the beginning with a history of the Senate. It really gives you a new look on how this body has evolved over the years. The reading is excellent. However, anyone who says these volumes are not long is seriously mistaken. There is about 4 hours of material on the Johnson hearings about Truman's nomination of Leland Olds for the national utilities commission. You can easily leave for an hour and come back an not miss much at all.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Cooper Bakersfield, CA 06-23-07
    Marc Cooper Bakersfield, CA 06-23-07 Listener Since 2006

    mcoope3

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    "Great Book"

    This is a great book. I have listened to many non-fiction titles on Audible and this is one of the most gripping.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott A. MacMillan Toronto, ON Canada 05-24-07
    Scott A. MacMillan Toronto, ON Canada 05-24-07 Member Since 2004
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    "Incredible Biographer"

    Caro makes this biography of LBJ as riveting as a fictional, political thriller. Despite the length of the audio, I could not stop listening until it was done. Caro has written 2 other LBJ biographies, as well as a biography of Robert Moses that I wish were available as audio programs. As soon as they are, I'll be getting them. Note: the narrator is excellent as well - very easy to listen to.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 08-31-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 08-31-14 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "He wanted power"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Paul
    Heckington, United Kingdom
    5/27/10
    Overall
    "A proper in-depth, detailed book"

    Really excellent from start to finish. This is an unbiast, honest review which goes into great detail. I really enjoyed the book and I wish that all history books were as unbiast as this one. Really very good overall. Enjoy!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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