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The Passage of Power Audiobook
The Passage of Power
Written by: 
Robert A. Caro
Narrated by: 
Grover Gardner
The Passage of Power Audiobook

The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  •  
    Beth COLLINGSWOOD, NJ, United States 07-22-12
    Beth COLLINGSWOOD, NJ, United States 07-22-12
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    "Caro does it again"
    What made the experience of listening to The Passage of Power the most enjoyable?

    Robert Caro continues his artfully told and absorbing account of Lyndon Johnson. It doesn't get any better.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Gilbert, AZ, United States 07-15-12
    Nancy Gilbert, AZ, United States 07-15-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Living History, marvelously told."
    If you could sum up The Passage of Power in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Passage of Power?

    The passage of the Civil Rights bil.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    The emphasis is always right, he never flags in giving details, yet it is nuanced and passionate.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Cried at times.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Caro is a genius.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian United States 07-02-12
    Brian United States 07-02-12
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    "Probing and insightful"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deborah Saint Paul, MN, United States 06-24-12
    deborah Saint Paul, MN, United States 06-24-12 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself! I am a runner and avid listener to books. Audible allow me to do my two favorite things at the same time.

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    "A Smooth Passage"

    Grover Gardner provided an intimate narration of Robert Caro's book The Passage of Power. I knew little of the transition from Kennedy to Johnson and the truly remarkable job Johnson did with it. In fact it seemed almost too smooth. It seems obvious if it were not for Johnson's consummate knowledge of the how to pass legislation and how to work people to his advantage, the civil right's legislation of 1964 and 1965 would never have made it through with Kennedy.

    This was a book I could not put down and it made me want to read the preceding books on Johnson and the next one to come.

    You will be surprised and will perhaps wonder how Johnson managed all he did that first year. It is a bit eerie too thinking about the possibilities of conspiracy. None which seem to amount to anything.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brig Austin, TX, United States 06-23-12
    Brig Austin, TX, United States 06-23-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Amazing, this is historical writing at its best"

    The power of this work is in the detail, if you are looking for an overview of LBJ's life in the Senate, as VP, and as President this is not it. The book goes through each decision and the way it was arrived at with a precision that few historical writers would ever dare to attempt. Consider this, The Raise and Fall of the Third Reich is 1245 pages, it covers roughly 30 years of history and countless persons. The Passage of Power is 736 pages, it covers the years 1958 to 1964, and is basically about one man. His path to the Vice Presidency is riveting, especially the hatred he and Bobby Kennedy felt towards one another. The author really shines when he covers LBJ's immediate transformation from impetent Vice President to President in total command.

    Most surprising to this reviewer was President Johnsons immediate understanding of his duties, the situation he was faced with, and his calm and commanding reaction to the circumstances. One cannot leave this work without an appreciation of LBJ's steady leadership and how he sheparded this nation through one of its darkest times.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJFLA 06-19-12
    CJFLA 06-19-12
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    "An excellent, exceedingly interesting book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Passage of Power to be better than the print version?

    The book is 700-plus pages. I find it easier to listen to longer books than read them. It may be because the earplugs mask out other distractions. Regrdless this is an excellent book. I read the first in the series as well. Caro is very detail oriented and paints pictures along the way to keep your interest from waning.


    What other book might you compare The Passage of Power to and why?

    Obviously, the others in his series on President Johnson.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    Great performer. Even when discussing "dry" subjects he made them interesting.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The one thing this book made me do was drive around the block once or twice on many occasions when listening in the car - waiting for a break in the narrative which made sense.


    Any additional comments?

    Great book. Great reader/performer. Unbelievably interesting, no mater what your political leanings.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LucyLu 06-18-12
    LucyLu 06-18-12 Member Since 2010

    Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.

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    "Really interesting biography"

    I'm a big fan of political history and biographies, and this didn't disappoint. I think it was Bill Clinton who said that history may prove kinder to LBJ in the future, and this book will likely make you agree. When I purchased it, I noticed a few reviews where people were upset at all the ground left to cover, but this is a four book biography, and I'm not sure how they missed the specific scope of this volume. It delivers exactly what is promised.

    I'm not romanticizing LBJ--his role in Vietnam's escalation was too negative to forget--but this book reminds you about some of his major, positive contributions in getting things through the House and Senate in the face of overwhelming opposition on both sides of the aisle. The passing of the Civil Rights Act alone is a testament to the good this complicated president accomplished, and this book takes you behind the scenes to witness that it was far from an 'idea who's time has come' in the political arena. He didn't just shepard it through with a lot of support, and the book (like others I've read on the subject, but in greater detail that was fascinating) leaves little doubt that Johnson's skill in the Senate was likely the key to it's passage at the time. It would be truly interesting if we could glimpse what Kennedy might have accomplished if not for his horrible murder, but it's pretty clear that it might well have been far less than Johnson due to the gap in their legislative experience. I'm not knocking Kennedy there, but the tricks, manipulation, and maneuvering it required to defeat the tricks, manipulation, and maneuvering of opponents was breathtaking. In laying out the battle behind the scenes, Caro makes crystal clear that the fact that LBJ had employed all those skills himself as majority leader, and early indications of Kennedy's naiveté in that department, would almost certainly have led to failure if LBJ hadn't been at the wheel.

    It's sort of a testament to the whims of history that his earlier, great, accomplishments were so overshadowed by his later, admittedly huge, mistakes. I think a fairer recollection would speak to a balance between these actions. Finally, it was fascinating to get a much fuller picture of him as a man, which was also a study in contrasts. He was frozen by fear of failure, and driven to become successful at the same time. Thoughtful and down-to-earth, while at other times, a corrupt tyrant and master of manipulation. Talk about a truly mixed bag.

    Well worth the credit--and I love Grover Gardner's narration of any book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Hoboken, NJ, United States 06-05-12
    David Hoboken, NJ, United States 06-05-12 Member Since 2006
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    "One of the best biographies ever written"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy Raffel 06-03-12 Member Since 2013
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    "So Good It Blew My Mind"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Theodore San Diego, CA, United States 05-29-12
    Theodore San Diego, CA, United States 05-29-12 Member Since 2007
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    "LBJ meets the Kennedys"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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