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Master of the Senate

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 2 of a 3-Part Recording)
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Series: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Book 3.2
Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,045 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

 

Master of the Senate, audiobook three of the Years of Lyndon Johnson, carries 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 audiobook 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. 

It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience - from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine - came to fruition. Caro introduces the story with a dramatic account of the Senate itself: how Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun had made it the center of governmental energy, the forum in which the great issues of the country were thrashed out. And how, by the time Johnson arrived, it had dwindled into a body that merely responded to executive initiatives, all but impervious to the forces of change. 

Caro anatomizes the genius for political strategy and tactics by which, in an institution that had made the seniority system all-powerful for a century and more, Johnson became majority leader after only a single term - the youngest and greatest Senate leader in our history; how he manipulated the Senate’s hallowed rules and customs and the weaknesses and strengths of his colleagues to change the unchangeable Senate from a loose confederation of sovereign senators to a whirring legislative machine under his own iron-fisted control. 

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. He shows the dark side of Johnson’s ambition: how he proved his loyalty to the great oil barons who had financed his rise to power by ruthlessly destroying the career of the New Dealer who was in charge of regulating them, Federal Power Commission Chairman Leland Olds. And we watch 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. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson’s amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875.   

Master of the Senate, told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro’s peerless research, is both a galvanizing portrait of the man himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings and personal and legislative power.

This is Volume 2. Have you listened to Master of the Senate, Volume 1 yet? And don't forget Volume 3.
©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2002 Books on Tape, 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)     

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Glitchy recording great story.

I love Caro's series. This segment has a few glitches, it repeats itself many times throughout the recording,it skips back 10 seconds. I also think it is not fair that the first book is one segment, the second book is one segment, and the third book is three segments. The first book is 40 hrs. Why must the third book be broken into three 15 hr sections?

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An off-read for one of the best!

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes - Two reasons: 1) Most obviously, you can't listen to volume 3 without volume 2 and after volume 1, you can't help but to want more and more of this.

How could the performance have been better?

There were so many repeats that at least once every 20 minutes it happened. There were other very odd starts and stops and perhaps part of a chapter missing. All in all, I don't know that I think it is that big of a deal - however, Grover Gardner is such an incredible narrator and commands such incredible admiration for his narration, the constant repeats and breaks are all the more shocking. Seems as though Vol. II was rushed in order that Volume 3 could be released. I will note that in Vol I and III Gardner was and then returned to his near flawless command of the story. However, Vol. II is the worst recording (in terms of repeats and cut-offs) I've ever listened to of the nearly 50 audio books over the past two years.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One Issue

Please note that the first 2.5 hours of this section are an overlap with the ending 2.5 of the first section. The new material starts with chapter 6.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Start Part Two at Chapter 5 with 39:53 remaining

Caro's work is phenomenal throughout and his description of LBJ's manipulation of the Senate is fascinating, but the audio version is tainted by sloppy editing. And Audible's charging three credits for its poor work is just shoddy.

If you're trying to find where to start after listening to the first audio "volume," in my version Chapter 5 with 39:53 remaining takes up where "volume" one ends. Good luck.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Master of the Senate in 3 Audible Acts

If you could sum up Master of the Senate in three words, what would they be?

Tour de force!

What did you like best about this story?

The history of the U.S. Senate that opens this volume.

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

I don't think I have listened to another GG narration. But GG was a great choice for this vast undertaking. He's there for the duration and never gets in the way. A real pro.

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

I think it would be the story of Leland Olds.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Surprising editing mistakes mar a great book.

Caro's insight, depth, and prose style -- combined with the narrator's performance -- make for a fascinating book.

Many audio books include an editing error or even two: typically a repeated sentence. This book, astonishingly, includes EIGHT OR NINE such repetitions. It should be reedited to reflect the quality of the author and narrator.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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

Junior Senator from Texas Takes the Ropes

The second 1/3 of Master of the Senate examines the role of the Senate Majority leader and how past senators who controlled the gavel failed to control the US Senate. Part of the issue was most of the power in the Senate was controlled by committee chairmen and those seats were based on seniority. Caro describes how the Senate fit LBJ and how he quickly adapted to the Senate's formalities and unique customs. And he watched. He gathered information on senators, their needs, wants and weaknesses. He also maintained access to Texas oil, which meant he had access to money. Before LBJ, the Senate Majority leader job was considered a "nothing job". It didn't give you power, and it created huge risks. But that was before LBJ. LBJ discovered that knowledge and coordination is power. This section also develops a chapter about Senator Humphrey. Humphrey's relationship with Johnson is important because he is an interesting contrast to Johnson AND because their friendship and relationship is important to both later. So LBJ, through his relationship with Russell gets named as the youngest Majority Leader. Using his unique skills, his work-ethic, his ability to understand people's needs and weaknesses Johnson starts to consolidate power. He begins to use power. Johnson also understand that with a weak Republican party, and a pragmatic president, the Democrats can gain power by helping President Eisenhower to accomplish many of his goals. This period also involved dealing with Senator McCarthy. Not directly, Johnson NEVER moves early. But he patiently waited, perhaps too long, to do anything. As Johnson gains more power, his quietness fades and the old lapel-grabbing, power using Johnson returns. You don't cross Senator Johnson now. If you do, you won't get the committee assignment you want, or your bill won't be heard, or you will be shunned. With his exercise of power Johnson starts to make the Senate work. The senate, a place where bills went to die, now begins to operate. With Johnson at the controls, things begin to get done. Johnson's name starts to rise.

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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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terrible production

Something is wrong with volume 2 which repeats at least 4 hours from volume 1. Furthermore, some sentences in this production repeat entirely. One listens to a long long sentence and then the same sentence is repeated. I will have to call Audible to bring this to their attention. I do not think it's fair to split the original book into 3 volumes and then charge for each volume, on top of a lousy job of production. I have listened to the first 2 books in the series : The Path to Power and Means of Ascent with Audible and they are wonderfully done. Caro refreshes the reader throughout which is useful, but for me this is the worst Audible production I have ever heard. Another reader commented that the abridged version was poor so I decided to read the entire book in 3 volumes, and although I have not reached volume 3 I can't expect anything better.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great but repeats

Any additional comments?

This is a great book, with rich historical detail. I love how Caro sets the right context by offering numerous historical sketches in which to set the moments of Johnson's life. Gardner's reading is superb, warmly bringing the subject to life. However, this wonderful book and presentation are marred by the audio recording in which, on a regular basis (sometimes once a chapter), sentences are repeated. Overall, an excellent product!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

gripping story of the workings of the US Senate

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

gives the most exhaustive treatment to both the career of Lyndon Johnson, the workings of the senate and the ascendancy of the united states in the striving for equality

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lyndon Jophnson because he hit his full stride as a politician, statesman and person

Which scene was your favorite?

the details of the voting rights act amendments

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

no it needs
s to be savored over time

Any additional comments?

it is a shame that this book has to be sold in three seperate volumes by audible. it is an exhaustive and very long book, which is understandable but Audible should come up with packaging it more econimically

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • GW
  • 12-30-18

Mesmerising but editing poor

This is so fantastic but the first few chapters are a repeat of volume 1, and then some sentences are randomly repeated. Careless.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-22-18

Good book, poor editing

Great story and narration, but many repeated phrases throughout that should have been caught in the edit

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Pack
  • 01-02-17

Great book, great narrator, surprisingly poor edit

Would you listen to Master of the Senate - The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 2 of a 3-Part Recording) again? Why?

The book is brilliant, the story fascinating and the narration excellent.

Any additional comments?

But the editing of the second part of the three-part audio book is surprisingly poor. On more than a dozen occasions bits of text are repeated as the audio track suddenly doubles back by a few words or even a few sentences. The first part was edited professionally without such errors. It looks like by the time of the second part time or budget was too short to avoid repeatedly making a basic mistake.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • E P
  • 04-29-19

Great story sloppy editing

Middle part of Master of the Senate remains engrossing.

Sloppy editing is annoying: sentences repeated and the books first few chapters repeat the last few of the first part