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Master of the Senate - The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 1 of a 3-Part Recording) Audiobook

Master of the Senate - The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 1 of a 3-Part Recording)

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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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  •  
    Marc Cooper Bakersfield, CA 06-23-07
    Marc Cooper Bakersfield, CA 06-23-07 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 2017
    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 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Wagner 11-25-15
    Mark Wagner 11-25-15 Member Since 2017
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    "1 book shouldn't require 3 purchases"

    I loved this book, like I love all of the books in the series. And the narration is excellent. But it is outrageous that Audible makes you purchase three different downloads to get this one book. On top of that, it isn't even clear, at least on the mobile site, that there are three different parts. I accidentally bought the second part first.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Bailey 02-19-15
    T. Bailey 02-19-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lousy Marketing Scheme"
    What did you love best about Master of the Senate?

    I love the research put into this book and the way the story is told.


    Any additional comments?

    While I love the book, the fact that it is broken into three Audible recordings disgusts me so much that I am likely not to buy the remaining volumes in the set. If the first two books can be made into individual recordings, why must you make this one volume into three, except to milk the paying clients for more $$$?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rose Marie Holt Nampa, ID USA 03-12-14
    Rose Marie Holt Nampa, ID USA 03-12-14 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Think you know the 60s? Think you know LBJ?"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. LBJ was a huge influence on my generation in a personal way. Few presidents affect so many individual American lives on such a significant personal level. He ruined or elevated people in life changing ways. This book helps show how he became who he was and what a mystery his inner self still is.


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

    The other Caro books.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Unknown


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

    I think buying and listening to Caro's book on Robert Moses was a pretty extreme reaction.


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who is interested in recent US history and a perspective of politics today would find this useful.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 11-01-17 Member Since 2011
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    "What has changed in American Politics"

    After listening to this book and the preceding books by Robert A. Caro it is obvious that today there is very little difference between now and the politics of the past. Change the dates, change the names, change the place but very little has changed.
    Caro's detailed organization and presentation, paints a picture of American politics that is truly amazing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-04-17
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 10-04-17 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Junior Senator from Texas Learns the Ropes"

    The first 1/3 examines the history of the Senate and the rise of the seniority system and the South's dominance in the Senate leadership. It examines LBJ's entrance into the Senate and his struggles to fit in and find his place. It then examines Richard Russell (the guy they named the Russell Senate building after) and his family's history and his history and rise to power in the US Senate. Why? Because Senator Russell was to become the key to LBJ's success in the Senate. The first 1/3 of the book examines how LBJ used many of the same techniques to develop a relationship with Russell that in his House years he used with Sam Rayburn (LBJ had a way with older men with power: Rayburn, Russell, LBJ). The first 1/3 ends with LBJ destroying the career and reputation of Leland Olds when he was re-appointed to head the FPC (Federal Power Commission) in 1949. In doing so, LBJ was able to gain some more cred with Texas' oil industry and with his Southern fellow senators. The last bit of the first section also details Johnson's use of his "Preparedness Investigating" subcommittee (similar to the one used by Truman during WWII) in order to raise his name recognition during the beginning of the Korean War. Caro contrasts the way that LBJ ran the committee with the way that Truman ran his.

    Quick note - my two star review for performance has nothing to do with Grover Gardner's read. He did a fantastic job. I'm just pissed at Audible or the producers for dividing this book into 3 sections. Instead of one book that is 54 hrs and 50 minutes long, they divided it into three books (thus three credits). They did this with Michael Burlingame's Lincoln too (but to be fair Burlingame's Lincoln = 109 hrs and 9 minutes). They didn't do it for any of Caro's other LBJ books. They didn't do it with Caro's The Power Broker (66 hrs and 11 mins). I get it that they need to pay for a huge book to get recorded and produced. So? Charge me 2 credits, but breaking it into 18 and 16 hours segments to extract 3 credits seems obnoxious. It isn't as bad as what they originally did with Burlingame's Lincoln. I think that book was originally broken down into 12 (TWELVE!!!) audiobooks with some being only 4 hrs and 34 minutes. That's my only beef really with this book. Brilliant. Well-read. One of the best biographies EVER written.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David T Salazar DURHAM, NC, US 10-02-17
    David T Salazar DURHAM, NC, US 10-02-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Splitting up into 3 audio books is a rip off"

    Splitting up into 3 audio books is a rip off. There is no way this one part could stand alone in terms of substance

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris D. 07-12-17
    Chris D. 07-12-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A political history library must-have"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have rarely read a history/biography that was more engaging and illuminating. Much of the woes we may experience today with our federal government go back to the very beginning. Caro explores the institution of the Senate, laying the groundwork for how it was possible for LBJ, a man of intense drive and uncommon political savvy, to quickly rise to prominence and influence in one of the most stubborn and frustrating institutions of government ever devised.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The background of the Senate and the origins of many of the parliamentary tools unique to that body (cloture) and the design of the Senate to create a buffer between senators and popular opinion (for better or worse) is illuminating and fascinating.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Leland Olds re-confirmation hearing was a detailed and moving portrayal of how LBJ ruined Olds, whom his Texas oilmen patrons despised. LBJ demonstrated a cruel ingenuity and brilliance in orchestrating the commerce subcommittee hearings such that he was able to falsely portray Olds as a communist while not being directly identified as Olds's chief inquisitor. His work getting critical civil rights legislation passed notwithstanding, Caro's thoroughly researched portrayal reveals a complicated, ruthless man with a crude demeanor, and a singular focus on his own political advancement.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    LBJ's treatment of his wife was appalling. If he'd lived in our age where politician's personal lives are not private, I don't know but that he'd not likely have made it as far as he did. Or, given his political genius, perhaps he'd have been nicer to Lady Bird.


    Any additional comments?

    Grover Gardner brings the book to life with just the right amount of passion and liveliness to keep me engaged on long drives, walks, or working in the garden.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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