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The Path To Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 1) Paperback – 12 Nov 1992

4.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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  • The Path To Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 1)
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  • Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 2)
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  • Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New Ed edition (12 Nov. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712698795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712698795
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A superb and unique biography...Meticulous in research, grand in scale, this is a major work that will remain a tower of its kind." (Barbara Tuchman)

"Truly sensational and enthralling...totally original." (Financial Times)

"Powerful and stirring. A monumental political saga...It is an overwhelming experience to read The Path to Power." (New York Times)

"Not only a historical but a literary event. An epic biography...a sweeping, richly detailed portrait...an awesome achievement." (Newsweek)

"Wholly fascinating...splendidly enjoyable." (The Times)

Book Description

The first instalment in Robert Caro's multi-award-winning and bestselling biography of Lyndon Johnson, spanning a pivotal era in American history

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Although it would be impossible for a short review to really do justice to Caro's epic work on LBJ (of which this is only the first part), a reviewer can, at the very least, recommend it so strongly as to compel the reader to accept the recommendation. 'Path to Power' is a classic of modern literature; it is magnificent, and I compel you to read it.
Robert A. Caro's biography of Lyndon B. Johnson (the first volume of it, at least - 'Path to Power' concludes in 1941, after Johnson's defeat in the Senate election) is characterised by a relentless expansiveness - entire chapters are given over to chronicling the lives of Lyndon Johnson's ancestors; to mapping the complex political landscape both Lyndon, and his father, Sam, were born into; to describing the difficult, labour-intensive existence of Hill County families in the years prior to full rural electrification; and to telling of people as diverse as Sam Rayburn , Alice Green, and the Brown Brothers. (Caro's chapter on Sam Rayburn is particularly good - a gem of biographical writing.)
For Caro, no topic is out of bounds, whether social or historical, psychological or behavioural, if its inclusion and discussion helps to make sense of the ambitious, complicated, tyrannical (and very human) Johnson. We read more about LBJ than we have ever read before, and Caro ensures - through fine writing and sharp, incisive insights - that we are engrossed as we read.
'Path to Power' is a long book, full of detail and texture, with much to reward the patient reader. Finishing it, you feel you have begun to understand a complex man and his complex times.
And it is addictive - the second volume, a little shorter, and the third volume, quite a bit longer, will be irresistible once the first has been digested.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book in Robert Caro's Magnus Opus 4 volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson. A weighty tome of 768 pages it covers Lyndon Johnson's early life, upbringing in the improvised backwoods of Texas, education at a lowly teachers training college, his work as a secretary to a congressman, then becoming a congressman himself before his first and unsuccessful attempt to get elected to the senate.

As a Brit, my knowledge of Johnson was limited to knowing that he was the President who replaced Kennedy and he actually introduced civil rights and the great society but got bogged down in the Vietnam War, which in part he inherited. From the outside it seemed as if history had dealt this Texan a raw deal. In Caro's book, however, Johnson appears to be a deeply complex and possible flawed character and I am reminded of the famous line on power from Plato's work: The Republic ‎"Those who seek power are not worthy of that power." Caro provides much material of his early life to encourage the reader to play amateur psychologist in wondering whether Johnson's single minded pursuit for power was possibly an attempt to control his environment having suffered through his father's fall from grace in Johnson's early life. My view of Johnson swung from highly distasteful to admiration at how he obsequiously courted older men as a `professional son,' engineered loyalty despite working underlings to nervous breakdowns but actually got things done on behalf of those he represented.

As Johnson's career progressed, I found it interesting the interplay of Johnson generating work under the Roosevelt's New Deal for Texan companies, then those companies sponsoring Johnson and helping him gain more power to then get bigger contracts for those companies.
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Format: Paperback
I doubt that anyone has ever delved into a biography of anyone as deeply as Caro has done. This volume, which covers Johnson to his first failed Senate campaign (to an early talk radio host), is simply the most spellbinding and detailed bio I have ever read, utterly rivetting as Caro explores Texas and then national politics of a bygone era.

It is nothing short of the story of a political genius, who rose from nothing on his wits and energy and who had a good side and a dark side. You feel that the full complexity of the man is contained within, from his bombast and cowardice to his uncanny ability to cultivate power and use his office to advance himself. It is funny, sad, and the grandest political tableau that has ever been painted I think. YOu get wonderful flashes of his bravado and humor - "looks like old jumbo here needs a little exercise," he tells his brother when emerging from a shower - as well as insight into the issues and governmental methods of the time. There is love (a mistress), disappointment (his loss), abuse (his father and his aides, who had to meet with him while he was on the toilet, etc.), and true caring (for his constituents).

If there is any problem, it is that so many threads are unravelled that many of them have to be dropped midway, never to be taken up again. But then, that is what books should do: make you want to search for more. And it is projected to reach 5 volumes.

One of the best books I ever read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is no doubt about it that this a masterful biography. If you want to delve deeply into a world of an individual then this is it. A few things bother me, one; Johnson is absent and Caro puts premium on the opinion, (good or bad), of everyone on Johnson's life,except Johnson. This makes the entire narrative a third person one, which gives tremendous power to Caro himself as author. Two; as in the Powerbroker, he often builds up to knock down, and more than once, (e.g. his college election) he is has the objectivity of the prosecutor. This leads to the third problem I have with it, Caro's view of politics (as with the Powerbroker), is often painfully idealistic. However, all that aside, this a wonderful read, a fascinating story that is brilliantly told. Often his journalistic skills come to the fore in creating a vivid background for the reader, whether it be Hill County or Congress, that would have been impossible to imagine for the reader in less skilled hands. It is hard to see how this book will ever go out of print. Caro is the narrator and Johnson the character; its bias, bizarrely, will prevent it from being dated. Better, more informative and definitely more satisfying to read than most fiction. (PS: Watch out for Caro's obssession about Johnson's ears).
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