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This is a strange book. From the title, you might think that this book is about Lyndon Johnson's life in the Senate. It is, but it's about much more than that. It explains clearly how the Senate works, how Johnson changed it, and the impact of those changes on it at the time, and, in the future.

The author also interweaves the life of other senators, and Johnson's "back story", into the story, to give you a greater sense of the place and Johnson's impact on it.

The result is that in turn, you'll get infuriated, and really impressed with the place (and Johnson), as you read the book. It is a really impressive, and informative, read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2004
Caro really deserves recognition for a weighty but extraordinarily detailed account of Johnston's years in the Senate. Occasionally the minute detail which Caro deploys chafes but the story itself is compelling. Johnston is both ogre and saint. He is presented as so self serving, ambitious and ruthless in pursuit of his goals that the notion that he might have been involved in the assasination of John F Kennedy in order to achieve his long held ambition of becoming President can not be overlooked. A thoroughly enjoyable and very well written book.
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on 14 March 2013
This is a superb work. I have ordered the paperback Caro book about LBJ "Passage of Power"
which I believe is due in May."Master of the Senate" showed him in the position in which he was
most comfortable,experienced and effective. He was probably the most successful Senate majority leader
ever.
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on 30 December 2013
You will find what this book is about in other reviews, so I shall restrict myself to opine that this book is the best of the four (so far) penned by Robert Caro about LBJ. I loved it.
I have discovered that, for me, the best way to learn about US history is to read the best biographies of Presidents.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2002
Caro wrote two earlier and deeply critical volumes on the early life of LBJ. When the second was published in 1990, several reviewers openly wonderer how Caro would dig himself out of his hole when his next volume had to cover Johnson's accomplishments on civil rights.
It has taken Caro 12 years to devise the rationale that LBJ's work on civil rights was driven by his massive ambition- he wanted to be President.

Very few, if any, modern politicians are without ambition and this is a cheap shot by Caro.

Having lived in Texas at the time, I know that Johnson took a real risk of losing his seat while he was pushing the first civil rights act through the Senate. Later, after Johnson became President, he fought for the 1964 civil rights laws and voter's rights acts, knowing full well that this would severely damage his Democratic party in the South for years.

Perhaps you have to be my age (68) and from the American South to appreciate fully the injustices which the blacks suffered (I am white). Today Americans debate the pros and cons of Affirmative Action. In the 1950s in the South, however, there was little debate over separate and horrible schools, separate water fountains, toilets,hotels, cafes........., virtually no rights to vote, no real political representation and gross humiliation all day, everyday.

Except for Lincoln, no person in American history has done more for the racial diadvantaged than Lyndon Johnson. And, although Caro would deny this, I believe Johnson's prime motive was a sense of empathy with the disadvantaged.

Whatever LBJ's motivation, it is miserly for Caro to belittle rather than credit Johnson's civil rights accomplishments and the positive impact these have had on so many of American citizens.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2010
I suppose very few people are interested in Lyndon Johnson these days, and why not? he passed out of history 40 years ago.

But if you have any interest in the United States this book is an absolute must. Caro writes with the wonderful fluency of a journaalist and tells the story, not just of Johnson, but of America in the 20th century. The story goes from the Comanche raids in Texas to the moon landings, taking in Civil Rights, which Johnson delivered where Kennedy could't, and Vietnam.

I've read all 3 volumes and can't wait for the final one on his Presidency. Fabulous, fabulous narrative writing.
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on 4 December 2013
the only difference between Caro & le Carre is this is factual thriller all 3 I have so far read of the LBJ biographies are truly outstanding a lesson on 20th century American political history
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on 27 December 2012
If you like the West Wing, you'll love this tale of US political chicanery and double dealing, of highs and lows of human nature.
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on 2 October 2014
Quite possibly the greatest book about politics yet written, this is one of the unlikeliest page turners I know.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Whether we like it or not, US politics are key to us Europeans. Whether welike or not - and no doubt there are times we like it rather less - thesheer power of the US, the ubiquity of US culture, our two centuries ofshared history and wars, the blood shed by US soldiers on our land, thedeep bonds that tie our nations - and no doubt there are times we havedeep reservations about these bonds - all make US politics key to us. Andunderstanding them, and what makes them what they are, and how they cameto be what they are, are fundamental for us Europeans to come to termswith an often difficult relationship. And in order to achieve some measureof understanding, one has to delve into US political history, and into thehistory of US political institutions.
In this area, Mr. Caro's book should be compulsory reading.
If it where just a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, it would deserve thehighest praise. Meticulously researched, unswervingly evenhanded in theappraisal of the central character, both critical and admirative, here isa book that reads like a thriller. Obviously, the chapters detailing howthe 1957 Civil Rights Act became law is the most spectular example of howMr. Caro turns history into a fascinating, palpitating piece of literaturethat one simply cannot put down. The way the plot unfolds, the way thedramatis personae are brought to the stage, the way events big and smallare brought to play is simply masterful. But other examples abound, thatthe reader will enjoy just as much. On literary value, storytelling power,historical perspective on the man and politician L.B. Johnson alone, thisbook stands.
What really fascinates, though, is the insight Mr. Caro provides in theinner workings of a great institution, the Senate of the United States. Itshows its grand sides, its moments of grandeur, its solemn and momentoustimes, and its petty, dark, cynical workings. The opening chapters containa superb short history of the Senate, bringing into perspective thetensions between South and North, liberals and conservatives, and the waythese tensions modeled and conditioned the way the US Senate would mold,and quite often would refuse to mold US policy. The narrative builds up analmost palpable image of the institution and its workings. Fascinatingstuff.
I could go on and on... Suffice it to say: the moment I finished reading,I ordered the first two volumes of Mr. Caro's LBJ biography.
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