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.
This book covers the end of Johnson's career as Senate Majority leader, his failed run for the presidency, Johnson's vice-presidency & his transition post-assassination to the presidency.
Johnson was a very complicated man - corrupt, pragmatic, a bully, a brilliant strategist, and ultimately the individual responsible for some of the greatest civil rights & social service legislation this country has ever seen.
The author takes you through an incredibly turbulent period in LBJ's career and makes you care so much about this man who is easy to loathe at times.
Grover Gardiner is excellent as a reader - great performance.
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.
I have an excruciatingly long commute. Listening to books is about all that has kept me from falling into the abyss. History and bios only
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.
Say something about yourself!
I would recommend reading the first 3 volumes of LBJ's senate years and then The Passage of Power. This volume describes his transition from the most powerful man in the Senate to the powerless Vice President of JFK.
This is one of the better books about an American president. At times it tends to drag because the author goes into so much detail, but I had trouble putting it down, even though I was not a Johnson fan.
LBJ. Now I appreciate his trials and tribulations.
Johnson's actions after the assassination of Kennedy were amazingly crafted.
The same as the book title.
Robert Caro continues his artfully told and absorbing account of Lyndon Johnson. It doesn't get any better.
Insightful, empathic, riveting account of one of this country's most critical periods. Meticulously researched, yet never bogs down, each detail richly informing character and the turn of history. LBJ's finest moments retold, and the narrator is simply outstanding.
The passage of the Civil Rights bil.
The emphasis is always right, he never flags in giving details, yet it is nuanced and passionate.
Cried at times.
Robert Caro is a genius.
Although this installment of Caro's multi-volume series on LBJ ostensibly covers only the years 1958-early 1964, the author does a tremendous job exploring this period and presents a rich, engaging portrayal of a significant transition in the life of a politician. One drawback of an audible presentation of nonfiction is the reader's inability to peruse the footnotes or examine sources. There are, at least, several helpful references to other volumes of Caro's work where certain themes (e.g. LBJ's relationship to Sam Rayburn) have been explored in greater depth so one can explore the cross references in earlier installments. Passage to Power also makes several promises of issues to be addressed more fully in the final, forthcoming volume which I eagerly await. Although I have not read the earlier volumes in this series (but now plan to do so) this book has a stand alone quality. There's enough here---the rivalry between LBJ, Bobby Kennedy, and the other Kennedy men; the 1960 presidential campaign; Johnson's frustration with the powerlessness of the vice presidency; the ongoing or emerging issues surrounding civil rights, early phases of Vietnam, Cold War politics, etc--- to make for a satisfying, self-contained volume. Even the familiar events surrounding the Kennedy assassination are presented with a fresh, balanced perspective: one gets a sense of how this traumatic event must have seemed from LBJ's vantage point. Grover Gardner's narration is pitch perfect, much like the narration for an excellent, absorbing documentary, and kept me engaged from start to finish. Really a top notch effort all the way around.
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