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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Multi-faceted biography and interesting biography, 20 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Path To Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 1) (Paperback)
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. It also made me wonder in the current economic/political climate the danger of such a cycle repeating itself of governments awarding contracts/work etc. to get the economy growing but the whole cycle being distorted by the potential for corruption. I had not appreciated how corrupt the US political system was such a relatively short time ago. It is a big slab of the book which I should have done justice as a holiday read.
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Initial post: 1 Jun 2013 09:27:09 BDT
Hywel James says:
A terrific review that sums up the book's many merits. Thanks.
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Location: Altrincham, Cheshire United Kingdom

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