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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Audio CD – Audiobook, 7 May 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Corporation; Unabridged edition (7 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455890545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455890545
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 5.1 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,561,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Monumental… For many politicians it is the finest book on politics… Magnificent…the tension between the fraud and ruthlessness that repulsed political liberals and the reaction of voters to whom he delivered, make Caro’s book the ultimate political story" (Daniel Finklestein The Times)

"This extraordinary work will remain essential reading for decades to come" (Richard Lambert Financial Times)

"A true story of huge personalities, bloody assassinations, loves, hatreds and betrayals (and the Kennedy family) that renders it by turns gripping, sensational and immensely depressing… A white-knuckle rollercoaster ride… Magisterial" (Andrew Roberts Telegraph)

"A work of pure genius" (Steve Akehurst Huffington Post UK)

"Caro’s strength as a biographer is his ability to probe Johnson’s mind and motivations… Riveting… A rollercoaster tale" (The Economist)

"Brilliant... Important... Remarkable... With this fascinating and meticulous account of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro has once again done America a great service" (Bill Clinton New York Times Book Review)

"As riveting as a thriller… The next book will crown an achievement in presidential biography unmatched among presidential histories" (David Hendricks Houston Chronicle)

"Caro sets the gold standard for modern political biography ... we can only hope we are fortunate enough to see this monumental work reach its long-awaited conclusion" (Tim Soutphommasane New Statesman)

"One of the most ambitious single-handed literary enterprises in our time" (James M. Murphy TLS)

"Long live Robert Caro… Truly epic political history and character study… Riveting…it elevates Caro’s tale to Shakespearean drama, as the coldhearted, Machiavellian maneuvering and hot-blooded rivalries of supremely ambitious men play out the fate of the free world at stake" (Dan DeLuca Philadelphia Inquirer)

"A tremendous story, bursting with colour and character…the sheer wealth of political details keeps you turning the pages…gargantuan but brilliant" (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times)

"It is not often that I have muttered, “Astonishing”, to myself as I close a book. But I see what people were on about now. Caro is a brilliant narrator of recent history… It is a work of greatness, of such acute observation of politics that its insights are applicable far beyond the time and place of the United States, 1960-64" (John Rentoul Independent)

"Riveting reading from beginning to end... The real tour de force in this stunning mix of political and psychological analysis comes in the account of the transition between administrations... An utterly fascinating character study, brimming with delicious insider stories... Unquestionably, one of the truly big books of the year" (Booklist (starred review))

"An addictive read, written in glorious prose that suggests the world’s most diligent beat reporter channeling William Faulkner. Passage is an essential document of a turning point in American history. It’s also an incisive portrait of one great, terrible fascinating man suddenly given the chance to reinvent the country in his image" (Darren Franich Entertainment Weekly)

"My book of the year, by a landslide majority... Caro marries profound psychological insight with a brilliant eye for the drama of the times" (Robert Harris Guardian)

"A breathtakingly dramatic story [told] with consummate artistry and ardor... It showcases Mr Caro's masterly gifts as a writer: his propulsive sense of narrative, his talent for enabling readers to see and feel history in the making and his ability to situate his subjects’ actions within the context of their times… Taken together the installments of Mr Caro’s monumental life of Johnson so far not only create a minutely detailed picture of an immensely complicated and conflicted individual, but they also form a revealing prism by which to view the better part of a century in description of Johnson – and those of John and Robert Kennedy – have novelistic depth and amplitude… Mr Caro uses his storytelling gifts to turn seemingly arcane legislative maneuvers into action-movie suspense, and he gives us unparalleled understanding…of how Johnson used a crisis and his own political acumen to implement his agenda with stunning speed… Engrossing" (Michiko Kakutani New York Times)

"The fourth volume of one of the most anticipated English-language biographies of the past 30 years... A compelling narrative...that will thrill those who care about American politics, the foundations of power, or both" (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

"One of the greatest biographies in the history of American letters" (Bob Hoover Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"Riveting... Shakespearean... It’s a rollercoaster narrative as Johnson plummets from the powerful Senate majority leader post to vice-presidential irrelevance, hated and humiliated by the Kennedy brothers, then surges to presidential authority with the crack of Lee Harvey Oswald’s rifle and forces a revolutionary civil rights act through a recalcitrant Congress... Caro’s tormented, heroic Johnson makes an apt embodiment of an America struggling toward epochal change, one with a fascinating resonance in our era of gridlocked government" (Publisher's Weekly (starred review))

"Caro has once again shown that he might well be the greatest presidential historian we’ve ever had… Although the amount of research Caro has done for these books is staggering, it’s his immense talent as a writer that has made his biography of Johnson one of America’s most amazing literary achievements… Caro’s portrayal of the president is as scrupulously fair as it is passionate and deeply felt… The series is a masterpiece, unlike any other work of American history published in the past. It’s true that there will never be another Lyndon B. Johnson, but there will never be another Robert A. Caro, either. By writing the best presidential biography the country has ever seen, he’s forever changed the way we think, and read, American history" (Michael Schaub NPR)

"A great work of history… A great biography… Caro has summoned Lyndon Johnson to vivid, intimate life" (Newsweek)

"Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson is said to be on William Hague, George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt’s summer reading list" (Guardian)

"A great and occasionally astonishing biography" (John R MacArthur Spectator)

"The years of Lyndon Johnson, when completed, will rank as America’s most ambitiously conceived, assiduously researched and compulsively readable political biography… When Caro’s fifth volume arrives, reader’s gratitude will be exceeded only by their regret that there will not be a sixth" (George F. Will)

"This book shows the mastery of Johnson in politics, and also the mastery of Caro in biography" (David M. Shribman Bloomberg/BusinessWeek)

"Political biography of the highest quality… An unmatched psychological portrait of Johnson as John F. Kennedy’s assassination catapults him into the presidency" (Tony Barber Financial Times)

"The latest in what is almost without question the greatest political biography in modern times… Nobody goes deeper, works harder or produces more penetrating insights than [Caro]" (Patrick Beach Austin American-Statesman)

"A major event in biography, history, even publishing itself… Caro has once more combined prodigious research and a literary gift to mount a stage for his Shakespearean figures: LBJ, JFK, LBJ’s nemesis Robert F. Kennedy" (Library Journal (Starred))

"A masterly how-to manual, showing Johnson’s knowledge of governing, his peerless congressional maneuvering and effective deal-making. The Years of Lyndon Johnson is a compact library: brilliant biography, gripping history, searing political drama and an incomparable study of power. It’s also a great read… And, after thousands of pages spent with Lyndon Johnson, one of Caro’s singular achievements is that you want more" (Peter Gianotti Newsday)

"Brilliant… Riveting reading from beginning to end… The real tour de force in this stunning mix of political and psychological analysis comes in the account of the transition between administrations, from November 23 1963 to January 8, 1964… An utterly fascinating character study, brimming with delicious insider stories… Political wonks, of course, will dive into this book with unbridled passion, but its focus on a larger-than-life, flawed but fascinating individual – the kind of character who drives epic fiction – should extend its reach much, much further. Unquestionably, one of the truly big books of the year" (Booklist (Starred))

"The series’ crowning volume" (The Economist)

"This pile-driving book has all the ingredients of a great drama, the humiliating childhood breeding a lifelong desire (to be president), the failure (to gain the Democratic nomination), the humiliation (almost constant, by JF Kennedy) the sudden change of fate (the assassination), and the vindication (when Johnson drives through key bills that Kennedy couldn’t, and proves himself the most astute of politicians). Totally compelling" (Biography of the year Sunday Times Ireland)

"It is an extraordinary story of a deeply flawed character, told with such verve, such command of the facts, and such an understanding of power" (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

"A major work of history and biography" (Annie Proulx Guardian)

"The fourth installation of Caro’s masterwork came out this year and, cheeringly, there is no slackening of plot or pace" (Kathryn Hughes Guardian)

"It is a profound portrait of two men, Johnson and John F. Kennedy, and the relationship between them" (Sarah Stands Evening Standard)

"A fascinating story, Shakespearean in its passion and fury, as well as darkly comical" (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)

"This pile-driving book has all the ingredients of a great drama, the humiliating childhood breeding a lifelong desire (to be president), the failure (to gain the Democratic nomination), the humiliation (almost constant, by J. F. Kennedy) the sudden change of fate (the assassination), and the vindication (when Johnson drives through key bills that Kennedy couldn’t, and proves himself the most astute of politicians). Totally compelling" (Sunday Times Ireland)

"The fourth volume of Caro’s magisterial work spans the five years that end shortly after Kennedy’s assassination, as Johnson prepares to push for a civil rights" (New York Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The fourth instalment in Robert Caro's multi-award-winning and bestselling biography of Lyndon Johnson, spanning a pivotal era in American history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thirty years have passed sine the publication of The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, the first of what Robert Caro envisioned would be a three-volume biography of America's 36th president. This, his fourth volume, ends in the first months of his presidency, and his assertion that this is the penultimate volume strains credulity given the thoroughness he has covered Johnson's life even before reaching his time in the White House (with a third of this book's 700+ pages chronicling just the first four months as president). Yet Caro has sacrificed brevity for a detailed portrait of irony in his depiction of a master of political power who finds himself deprived of it.

Caro begins with Johnson at the height of his success in the Senate. Still only in his second term, he had taken the weak position of Senate Majority Leader and turned it into the second most powerful position in national politics, thanks largely to his enormous personal and legislative abilities. But Johnson had his eye on an even larger prize - the presidency itself, an office he had aspired to for decades and which in 1960 seemed to many to be his for the taking. Yet Johnson hesitated to commit himself to the race, fearing the humiliation of a defeat. This created an opening that John F. Kennedy eagerly exploited. With his brother Robert collecting commitments in the west - a region critical to Johnson's chances - Kennedy outmaneuvered the Texas senator, demonstrating just how completely Johnson had misjudged his opponent.

Yet for Johnson a new opportunity presented itself when Kennedy offered him the vice presidential nomination during the convention.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, it is long. Yes, it is not a casual read. Yes, it helps to have read the previous volumes (as I have...nah, nah, na, NAA, na!) but Robert Caro has done it again. This is a brilliant snapshot of Washington politics and backstage manouering as we are likely to get this year. Or most other years. This volume covers Johnson leaving his post as Senate Majority Leader for the Vice-Presidency and his soon realising he has made a huge mistake. Tragically the crack of Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle in Dallas saves Johnson from the nothingness of the Veep's non-role in governmental affairs and ironically saves LBJ's career but OMG what a story!
And let it be said here and now this book has the best explanation of Bobby Kennedy and LBJ's longstanding feud you will ever but ever read. Caro also goes to great lengths to explain how Bobby Kennedy, a most prickly and unlikeable undergraduate while studying at the Univ of Virginia, became the warm-hearted Senate visionary Democrats still weep over today.
This is a great work, a terrific book. It will stand tall through the ages and be used in schools for years and years. Any American interested in how we got to where we are in the early 21st century should read this.
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Format: Hardcover
Like many, I have waited keenly for these volumes to appear over the past 25 years. Part 2 and especially part 3 are among the greatest biographies I have read. Part 4 goes from the 1960 presidential nominations and campaign, through the Kennedy administration and assassination, to mid-1964 with the passage of the civil rights bill.

Why does this not work quite so well? One reason is that the Kennedy years and assassination have been covered ad nauseam, often in a hagiographic manner. Caro is not that, and Kennedy's legislative failures are made clear, but for me too much is swept under the rug.The second is that there is really not so much to say about LBJ when he was V-P. The Kennedys treated him like dirt: this is made very clear, but only needed to be said so many times. The events in Dallas could also have been stated a lot more briefly. So the middle third of the book drags a bit. On either side though, the high standards of parts 2 and 3 are maintained. The story of why and how LBJ screwed up the 1960 nomination is fascinating. The account of his first two months as president is epic, as is the revisiting of the Johnson methods for getting things through the Senate. The writing here is among Caro's best and it is these things that are maybe not such common knowledge where the book excels.

Maybe Caro is getting old (78 on Wikipedia), but I found the long parts of overblown writing about LBJ to be tedious. Perhaps they were there in the other volumes, but they seem more irritating here. To set against that are wonderful character sketches of forgotten figures: Harry Byrd is especially memorable, but there are many others.

How could this have been improved?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The highpoint in this superb book is the day of the assassination. Whilst I don't believe for one minute that Johnson had any involvement, I had never realised just how amazingly fortuitous was its timing for him, and how close he came to being ruined politically had it not occurred. The rapid editing between the motorcade in Dallas and the Senate investigation into Bobby Baker (and, by association, Johnson) in Washington, creates an entirely new and incredibly tense narrative of these events.

As for the rest of the book, whilst it is standard (excellent) Caro, for the first time in The Years of Lyndon Johnson I became aware of a formula emerging; Johnson down (either ill or depressed) followed by Johnson revved up and sweeping aside all opposition by the force of his energy, personality and political genius. This is not a major problem and would not put me off reading the next installment, however, it is an issue.
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