National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography, 2013
The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.
For the first time, we see the Kennedy assassination through Lyndon Johnson’s eyes. We watch Johnson step into the presidency, inheriting a staff fiercely loyal to his slain predecessor; a Congress determined to retain its power over the executive branch; and a nation in shock and mourning. We see how within weeks - grasping the reins of the presidency with supreme mastery - he propels through Congress essential legislation that at the time of Kennedy’s death seemed hopelessly logjammed and seizes on a dormant Kennedy program to create the revolutionary War on Poverty.
Caro makes clear how the political genius with which Johnson had ruled the Senate now enabled him to make the presidency wholly his own. This was without doubt Johnson’s finest hour, before his aspirations and accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam.
It is an epic story told with a depth of detail possible only through the peerless research that forms the foundation of Robert Caro’s work, confirming Nicholas von Hoffman’s verdict that “Caro has changed the art of political biography.”
©2012 Robert A. Caro (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
An excellent insight into an important person in history and his relationship with the Kennedy's.
The book is very long and we listen on long, long drives. Therefore I have time to do other things as well.
Insights into American political history: how the legislature works
An excellent follow-up to Master of the Senate.
After listening to interview of the author by Charlie Rose, mt question is "Why was Ina, Robert's wife not a co-author?"
Grover Gardner has been the perfect narrator throughout this series and this volume is no exception. This book covers Johnson's ambivalent attempt at running for the Presidency in 1960, his years of frustration as Vice President (going from the second most powerful man in Washington to being mocked by Kennedy staffers as "Rufus Cornpone"), and then his remarkable success in the months following Kennedy's assassination. For those who have followed Johnson through over two thousand pages of Caro's biography up to this point, the last two hundred pages serve as testament to the fact that this truly was a great man, if also a greatly flawed one. I listened to this immediately after finishing Caro's "The Power Broker," and one can see how Caro has matured as a writer. Both books are richly detailed portraits, but now Caro's viewpoint is far more nuanced and balanced. Even his sketches of John and Robert Kennedy demonstrate that Caro's greatest strength is his ability to reveal a man's character in depth--the good and the bad--without giving into the temptation to reduce it to a simplistic summary judgment. Yes, this is a long book that requires patience and commitment from a reader or listener, but I consider it one of those books that has profoundly enriched my life. May Caro live to finish this masterpiece!
Caro delivers again. This volume focuses on period beginning in the months leading up to LBJ's selection as Vice President through the election of 1964. While the detours into the lives of John and Bobby Kennedy are sometimes long, they are very valuable in setting the context for how the personalities of the men shaped their interaction with Johnson. History burnished JFK's Camelot with the sweat LBJ put into passing Kennedy's programs after the assasination. Fascinating human drama in one of the most historically significant American decades in the 20th Century.
Yes. Bob Caro is the most thorough biographer I have read. Many mini bios within this extensive volume. I read this after The Power Broker. Cant get enough.
Sure. Very clearly read book.
I listened to all 4 parts. The last part did not seem like the end of the book but rather the end to a part. Does anyone else have a thought on this????
i am a mediator/private judge. i have two grown children and four grand children. i read biography, history, detective fiction and suspense books in great numbers. i have listened to 1,500 books here on audible.
audio is very good. have not read print
the segments as to RFK personality.
he is the only reader who could do this book. the equal of his work on "Truman"
impossible, although good on a long drive to Mmmoth fromLA.
solid addition to his earlier books on LBJ
Wow! is all I can say after finishing this book. It must stand as one of the great biography's of all time. Caro has woven a tale of such complexity that it defies any summary. Having grown up during the years of this book, I was completely unaware of the enormous achievement of Lyndon Johnson during the six months following Kennedy's assassination. I had not read the previous three volumes and so was unaware of the complex nature of Johnson. It didn't matter. Caro so thoroughly revealed his character and so seamlessly wove it into the history of those pivotal years that the book almost seemed like a novel. I literally could not stop listening at certain points in the book. It was engaging as any of the best suspense novels: How will he get that bill passed? Who will he have to threaten, who will he have to massage, what promises will he have to make? He was able to facilitate the passage of the unpassable, stalled in Congress for thirty five years, Civil Rights Bill in four months at one of the most volatile moments in our history. He began the process four days after assuming the Presidency. Unbelievable! People (myself included) took this unbelievable achievement with a blase' attitude-Oh, no big deal. This book puts this dismissive in a deeply buried coffin where it belongs. As always, the superficial picture of famous people is often taken as the truth of who they really are and what they really achieved. It has often been said that the legacy of John F. Kennedy was most greatly served by his assassination. Although a cruel statement, this book proves this assertion. The book shows that Kennedy was completely impotent in domestic affairs. He had no idea how to deal with a recalcitrant Congress who ran circles around him and he had not achieved one significant piece of legislation during his three years. He had great ideas but it took the political genius of Lyndon Johnson to bring them to fruition and change the course of American history. It is sad that Johnson's great achievements will always be overshadowed by his horrible decisions regarding the Viet Nam war. Caro hints at this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dichotomy at the end of this book. The greatness of this book is how well Caro elucidates Johnson's internal contradictory devils, how these devils were used for the greatest good and then for the greatest evil. Caro also pulls the curtain back on how Washington really works. Considering what is happening in Washington today, it is illuminating to see how things have not changed much. It only emphasizes the greatness of Lyndon Johnson and how his particular political genius single handedly moved our Country to a level of greatness that may never be achieved again. When the moment called, he rose to it like no other President in our history. Hopefully, history will give Johnson credit as one of the great President's we've had. If you like biography, put this book at the top of your list.
Biography as every author ought to read. History as well as art. All of this series is essential if one wants to know what Johnson was.
Grover Gardner is simply the best narrator working today. He has brought to life all four volumes of the LBJ series by Robert Caro. No one is better.
Compelling story of America as seen through the remarkable career of that complicated
political figure, Lyndon Johnson. Given changes in publications today, we may never again see a series like this that has taken Robert Caro close to 40 years to research and write, with on final volume to come
This book provides amazing insights to the individuals and workings of our national political system in the late 1950's- 60's. It is not pretty but it is honest. The contradictions within LBJ are beyond imagination. A powerful political leader as we do not see today, but a human figure with failings as well as strengths. I am looking forward to the next book.
IT Manager and life long learner
Passage of Power is one volume in the 4 volume set by Caro on LBJ. This volume focuses on the end of LBJ during the JFK administration and the the 5 years LBJ was President. The blood fude of Bobby Kennedy and LBJ comes through loud and clear as well as the plummeting approval rating he endured due to the malaise of the Vietnam War. The story of a man put out to pasture basically during his years as Vice President with little to no influence to his glory days as President. Crude and ruthless at times but he was the president who allowed African Americans their first opportunity to enter the voting booth.
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