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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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combine these into one book

Any additional comments?

Needless to say - a masterpiece. But this book is inexplicably broken into three purchases (well, I can think of an explanation). The first two equally long volumes were one audiobook per. I wish they would do the same for Master of the Senate.

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 10-04-17

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.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff
  • Pickering, Ontario, Canada
  • 05-18-12

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.

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bocaboy
  • Boca Raton, FL USA
  • 10-23-09

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

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  • Peter
  • Basking Ridge, NJ, United States
  • 10-19-13

A great book. A deceptive pricing policy

Any additional comments?

Be careful. Audible has separated this *single* book into three "volumes" so that you must spend three credits if you want to listen to the entire thing. Had I realized this, I probably would not have purchased it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

More than a bio of Johnson, a bio of politics

I can't recommend this book high enough. Master of the Senate is rich with history of not only Johnson's time in the Senate, but with a history of how the structure of the Senate and other branches of government work together. If that sounds a little boring, don't be mislead. This book is written in a way that makes the complex machinations of Washington politics alive and rich.

It also follows Johnson's personal rise in politics and is relevant today because it gives us an example of how someone gains and uses power. The specific details of history may change, but human nature doesn't, so it provides a perspective on events happening at this very moment in local, national, and global politics.

I've read the first two volumes (Path to Power, and Means of Ascent) in print. Unfortunately, they are not available from audible.com at this time. Luckily you can safely read just Master of the Senate without having read the first 2 volumes. (I agree with the first reviewer here, Audible, please add these fantastic books.)

Be warned though, there is an abridged version here on audible.com as well as the unabridged. Look for the 3 volume set to get the full story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • Salt Lake City, UT United States
  • 01-17-06

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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GREAT BOOK, BAD MANAGEMENT ON THIS BOOK

What did you love best about Master of the Senate?

Great book, so much information to gain.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Master of the Senate?

The Leland Olds witch hunt is particularly memorably, though not for good reasons.

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

Ability to consume the entire book in a timely manner.

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

Leland Olds nomination fight, it turned my stomach something awful to hear how LBJ ruined a good man.

Any additional comments?

I'm really disappointed this book was not only broken into three volumes on Audible (two understandable, but three defies logic given how first two volumes were presented as one single volume), but also that the chapters aren't lined up with the chapter breaks on the recording. This was highly disappointing given how well the first two books in this series were arranged and aligned by chapter.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • 05-27-10

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-19-16

Excellent

Excellent biography of LBJs time getting into the Senate and first steps to prominence. Audible makes the information much more accessible due to the detail in this tome..

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  • blraider
  • 07-21-16

An excellent book

Caro did it as a real master. Very detailed review of history of US Senate as well as its masters from its foundation.

Narator performed his role extrimely good.

I really enjoyed. My sincere recommendation.

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  • Mark Schultz
  • 05-19-15

Excellent

Another fine instalment in a series of brilliantly narrated texts, grover gardener reads Caro brilliantly.