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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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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 08-23-12
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2017
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    "The most dramatic time in U.S. history"

    This book can stand alone. It covers 1958 to 1964 a most interesting time in our history. It covers in depth the run for the 1960 election and the election of the Kennedy/Johnson ticket. I was surprised at the detailed information provided about the hateful treatment of Johnson by Robert Kennedy. Caro does show the good and bad points of Johnson and the Kennedy's and presents a well document history of the time leading up to during and after the assassination. The six month following the assassination showed Johnson at his best. He was able to use all his skills and depths of contact he had acquired in a life time of polictics to bring the government and this country under control and back to business. His passing of the civil rights act was a great accomplishment that everyone else had failed at since FDR. The book mostly deals with the 40 days after the assassination and the enormous problems Johnson faced. Gardner did a great job with the narration. The book does make me want read all the volumes in this series. The book is long and there was some repeating of information which could have been edited, other than that it is a great book. I could hardly put the book down.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Los Angeles, CA, United States 07-18-12
    Tim Los Angeles, CA, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The best kind of history"
    Where does The Passage of Power rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author not only describes specific events in detail, but gave me a far deeper understanding than I ever had before of not just Johnson and the many other characters involved, but also the workings of American politics, and the way power might have been brokered in other countries and other times.


    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerrie 10-05-12
    Kerrie 10-05-12
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    "Informative"

    A very interesting account of this time in LBJ's life. So much I was not aware of. The fued between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy and the way Johnson was treated as VP brought me to tears at times only to then feel sorry for Bobby in the next chapter. Such a captivating time in the history of American politics. As an Aussie, I don't know where my obsession with the Kennedys comes from, but an obsession it is and I loved learning more about them from the other side of the coin. Recommend it to anyone interested in this era.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Portland, OR 12-14-12
    Paul Portland, OR 12-14-12 Member Since 2017
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    "One of the best biography's I've ever listened to"

    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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 11-24-12
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 11-24-12 Member Since 2015
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    "NOT HAVING WHOLE SERIES IS KILLING ME !!!"

    Why wont someone put out the missing books of this astounding and important work in audible format???? I know at least one of them was done on cassette by grover gardner years ago because I saw it for sale on ebay. Im sure the other ones must have been done as well. Oh great mucky mucks at audible, please do something about this sinful state of affairs.

    Wondering if this book is good? Of course ! If Caro's name is on it- it's 5 stars, end of story,
    har-har

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 02-19-15
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 02-19-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Latest volume a worthy edition"
    What did you love best about The Passage of Power?

    This fourth volume in Caro’s expansive biography of LBJ covers the period of 1958 through early 1964. It traces LBJ’s ascension from dithering presidential candidate, to the powerless office of the VP, and concludes with his transition to the Presidency in the two months following JFKs assassination. This is a well researched and crafted biography of the man, his times, and the people around him. There are many fascinating details that deal with LBJ’s ambitions and insecurities, his relationship with the Kennedys, and the oft forgotten craftsmanship with which he assumed the mantel of the presidency during a difficult period. Caro is not one to skimp on details and for those who might be put off by the length of the book, there is an elegance and precision to Caro’s writing that keeps the narrative flowing. I should also say that I don’t think it is necessary to have read Caro’s other volumes in order to enjoy/follow Passage of Power as Caro briefly recaps details from the earlier works where it is necessary to add context. I found the narration brisk and competent. In short, this is a monumental work of biography about one of America’s more conflicted Presidents, one to whom history has perhaps been unfairly unkind. I am eagerly looking forward to the release of the final volume in the next few years.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer FRESNO, CA, United States 11-23-12
    Amazon Customer FRESNO, CA, United States 11-23-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Great incite into a interesting, yet tragic man."

    I knew little about Lyndon Johnson before reading this book, yet having lived through his presidency as a young boy, and being fascinated with this period in history I was drawn to this book. I came away knowing that Johnson was a shrewd politician, a manipulator of men, a lier and the perfect person to be vice president when John Kennedy was killed. This book covers the period of time up until his first state of the union address in January 1964 in great detail, but it's hardly ever boring.
    His intuitive knowledge of how to keep the government running, his ability to keep the Kennedy men on and working for him, thus keep some communality in the government was brilliant, especially given the fact that most of those men regarded Johnson a “corn pone” He was not educated at an ivy league school, did not have the family linage of JFK, yet he had the working knowledge of how to get a bill through congress that Kennedy didn't have. He was able to get part of Kennedy's agenda passed at just the right time, and then continuing to move forward with his own agenda.
    The story was good, Grover Gardner's narration was good, not great but I wanted to continue to listen till the end. I will be looking for the next book in the series.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toni Pauls 08-19-16
    Toni Pauls 08-19-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Really long book"

    Author goes into extraordinary detail in this book. It is good, but you have to really be committed to make it through.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Hale Texas 08-06-12
    C. Hale Texas 08-06-12
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    "Caro and Gardner are a great team!"
    If you could sum up The Passage of Power in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting researched powerful


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    LBJ. Being a Texan child when LBJ came into the presidency, my interest in what drives powerful men led me naturally to be drawn to reading about LBJ. Caro has done a excellent job of in depth research on his subject. I will always have my eye out for any book he chooses to write. Gardner just completes the package with his voice.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes. Love his voice and smooth cadence.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. It's way too long for me to stay awake that long, but I have listened to this book over and over ....and will again and again...


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy FAIRFAX, VA, United States 03-19-13
    Kathy FAIRFAX, VA, United States 03-19-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Hooked on Caro!"

    I read this after reading "Master of the Senate" because I was hooked on Caro's analysis of power--it's acquisition, it's manipulation, and what happens when a leader no longer has power. "Master of the Senate" was about how LBJ transformed what used to be considered a nothing job--Senate majority leader--into a bastion of power. It's a wonderful description of how--and why--he then used all of his talents at manipulating his power to pass the 1957 Civil Rights Act. In "The Passage of Power," LBJ has become JFK's vice president--a position with no power under which he chafes, until he is suddenly elevated to power by the assassination. And it gives fascinating insights into the LBJ-RFK feud. I can't wait for Caro's next volume in the series on the Vietnam War. I only wish the first two volumes of the series were available in an Audible format.

    And speaking of Audible, I can't imagine a better narrator that Grover Gardner. He narrated both "Master of the Senate" and "The Passage of Power" superbly. I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to other books he's narrated. And I hope that if they do decide to record the first two books of Caro's LBJ series, that they pick Gardner to read them.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    3/1/14
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    "Fascinating insight into a pivotal decade"

    This is third part of a monumental series charting the life of Lyndon Johnson. LBJ's early impoverished life, that coloured his political beliefs, is briefly alluded to and his time as Senate leader, but the vast majority of the book describes his political life from 1960 to 64 in immense detail. This was a pivotal decade for USA and the World with such events as the Bay of Pigs debacle, the Cuban Missile crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy. The corrosive mutual hatred between LBJ and Robert Kennedy pervades this masterly biography. I'm old enough to remember these events but had forgotten how well LBJ was regarded at the beginning of his presidency as his reputation was later tarnished by the horrors of Vietnam.
    Though a very long listen I was gripped throughout by this pacy account of events and players in this pivotal decade in world history.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • John
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Stunning"

    An incredible piece of historical writing, based clearly in the evidence and views of individuals who were part of those events. It is all the more evocative for that solid grounding. Caro's work is about the years of LBJ, and how power functions in America. To say that it is an important book is an almost comical understatement, it will be read and used and referenced for years to come.



    The audiobook, with a very well chosen narrator, allows you to immerse yourself in this stunning book. I couldn't recommend it more highly.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Dr.A.Dyson
    Newark, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Tour de force"

    This book is a work of genuine brilliance. In addition to providing a wide narrative sweep of this page of the 20th century it also provides searching analyses of all the main characters involved. One feels that one gets to know the real character of those people who shaped the last century - Not just Johnson himself, but Robert and John Kennedy and all those in his cabinet at the time.

    The prose is beautiful, the action unflagging. This is history as it should be written for the non-historian, and historian alike.

    Lyndon Johnson in Robert Caro's hands, becomes one of the most fascinating people of the 20th century. I cannot wait for the next instalment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • michael Billington
    BELFAST
    5/29/16
    Overall
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    "The fall and rise of LBJ"
    Would you listen to The Passage of Power again? Why?

    Yes, this is a wonderful book and I have found more in it with repeated listening.


    What did you like best about this story?

    You see how Lyndon Johnson endured the worst period of his career and as a result of an assassination obtained the prize he had always wanted. You also see and learn how he rose to the challenges he faced.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Yes and he was excellent as always in his narration of this series of books


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

    I found myself laughing when u hear some of the words and stories LBJ used to get other politicians to work with him.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the 4th volume of the years of lyndon Johnson. These are to my mind the greatest political biographies of any politician. Essential for understanding the use and abuse of power in mid 20th century America.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • J. M. Simmons
    UK
    8/6/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"
    What made the experience of listening to The Passage of Power the most enjoyable?

    As an audio book, the narrator is first class


    What did you like best about this story?

    Robert Caro is a genius. His depth of research, transparent integrity and brilliant story telling make these volumes riveting reading and indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand the era and the man. Thank you Mr Caro for this utterly brilliant tour de force.


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Yes. He is excellent


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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