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Master of the Senate

The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
Narrated by: Stephen Lang
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. At the heart of the book is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.

Caro demonstrates how Johnson's political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust - or at least the cooperation - of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. And we hear him achieve the impossible: convincing southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights.

Robert A. Caro has won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, as well as two National Book Critics Circle Awards and other honors. Master of the Senate is told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro's peerless research.

©2002 Robert A. Caro (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A wonderful, a glorious tale.... It will be hard to equal this amazing book. It reads like a Trollope novel, but not even Trollope explored the ambitions and the gullibilities of men as deliciously as Robert Caro does. Even though I knew what the outcome of a particular episode would be, I followed Caro’s account of it with excitement. I went back over chapters to make sure I had not missed a word.... Caro’s description of how [Johnson passed the civil rights legislation] is masterly; I was there and followed the course of the legislation closely, but I did not know the half of it.” (Anthony Lewis, The New York Times Book Review)

“A masterpiece.... Robert Caro has written one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age.” (Daniel Finkelstein, The Times, London)  

“Mesmerizing.... [It] brings LBJ blazing into the Senate.... A tale rife with drama and hypnotic in the telling. The historian’s equivalent of a Mahler symphony.” (Malcolm Jones, Newsweek)    

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Abridgement bad

Robert Caro's Master of the Senate is a strikingly detailed look at the most pivotal years of Lyndon Johnson's pre-presidential career. I knew that much would be missing from this abridged recording, but I was shocked to find that entire chapters, as well as crucial incidents in LBJ's life, such as his heart attack, the presidential election of 1956 and many others, were ommitted. After all, it was from Caro, in one of his earlier LBJ volumes, that I learned how fearful LBJ was of a heart attack that would kill him at an early age. And after reading in such great detail about the hard-fought and crookedly won election of 1948, I was stunned to find no mention of LBJ's 1954 re-election campaign, or even the smallest discussion of Texas politics in the 50s, and how LBJ was affected by it. In short, this is the most unfortunate and poorest abridgement of a book I've ever read.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • Thousand Oaks, CA, USA
  • 07-17-03

Good, but abridged version off

I first read two long excerpts from this book in the New Yorker that captured the essence of LBJ, and in particular, the way he played Humbert Humphrey to serve his ends. This was missing in the audio version. Also, most critical, was the passage where LBJ, who arguably did more to advance civil rights than anyone else including Martin Luther King, asks his long-time black chauffeur if he minds being called by a nickname instead of his real name. When the chauffeur answers "yes" LBJ unleashes a stinging racist tirade on the man. That one scene captured the contradiction that was LBJ, yet is omitted from the audio book. But there were passages included that were mostly nits about vote counts etc. So an A for the book, a C for the abridged version.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • Riegelsville, PA, USA
  • 12-09-03

A truly great book...too bad its abridged

The three books which constitute this history of Johnson are truly outstanding. Caro has an unmatched ability to vividly capture his subject's character and portray the world in which they operate -- without pulling any punches. Best of all, by the time Caro is done, you understand not just how Johnson successfully climbed to the leadership of the Senate, but why. The series is not just great biography, but a highly entertaining look at the American political system. Unfortunately, Audible offers only an abridged version.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cal
  • USA
  • 03-28-04

Master of the Senate

I started this book thinking it might be moderately interesting. As I had read Caro's book on Robert Moses, I was expecting a well written book on a fairly dull topic. To my great surprise, the book was both extremely well written and as far from dull as any book could be. This book unquestionably deserves the highest possible rating. What a shame that Caro's follow up book on Johnson's years as president has not yet been published. I would also love to see the two earlier volumes converted to audio format as well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent, but can't Audible offer the unabridged?

I thoroughly enjoyed this, but, having read other LBJ bio's, I felt cheated that there was more there that didn't make this abridged version. Caro appears to be an excellent biographer and his passion is evident. Stephen Lang did an excellent job capturing that passion, as well as LBJ's, Dick Russell's, and Hubert Humphrey's accent and vocal mannerisms.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 07-09-03

exciting, for a political book

Caro really brings Lyndon Johnson to life, and the narrator could easily be mistaken for Mike Wallace of 60 MINUTES. Understanding how Johnson climbed the ladder, it is hard to believe that he actually made it to President of the United States. A fast moving story, with just about everything included but drugs.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MAC33351
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL United States
  • 06-05-19

A good book although a little superficial

This should’ve been about 20 hours or so, it’s just a piece of a story and not the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

an ok abridgement

Short on specific bills and accomplishments, this shortened version is nevertheless enlightening as to LBJ's character.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Exciting Read!

Wonderfully read and chillingly familiar, this books made me look at what's going on today in a totally new light. Not just historical, this book will be very interesting to anyone interested in how things get decided in America.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Corrales, NM, United States
  • 02-07-04

Intruging look at a unique personality.

I could tell it was abridged & wish it wasn't, because it was a very interesting look at one of the most unique personalities in US political history. Author does a good job describing the personalities involved. However, I wish there was more detail about what he accomplished while in the Senate; it was much more about his rise to power.