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Paperback The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I Book

ISBN: 0679729453

ISBN13: 9780679729457

The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I

(Book #1 in the The Years of Lyndon Johnson Series)

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Book Overview

The Years of Lyndon Johnson is the political biography of our time. No president--no era of American politics--has been so intensively and sharply examined at a time when so many prime witnesses to hitherto untold or misinterpreted facets of a life, a career, and a period of history could still be persuaded to speak.

The Path to Power, Book One, reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive,...

Customer Reviews

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One of the greatest biographies of our time...

This book, published in 1982, has already achieved a legendary status among history and political buffs. When it was released its' author, Robert Caro, won enormous acclaim for his unprecendented research and engrossing writing style - and plenty of criticism for his harsh and unsparing portrait of Lyndon Johnson. Caro literally spent years living and interviewing people in the arid Texas Hill Country where Johnson was born and raised, and in the process he acquired a level of knowledge about his topic that few other biographers even approach. Like William Manchester's "Last Lion" biographies of Winston Churchill, "The Path to Power" is far more than a simple biography of the young Lyndon Johnson's desperate desire to escape the grinding poverty of rural Texas in the 1930's and achieve power in Washington. Caro writes unforgettably of the Johnson family, the culture and history of the Texas Hill Country, the incredibly corrupt political system in Texas at the time, and of how Johnson both brilliantly and cynically manipulated that system for his own purposes. Caro's descriptions of the people in LBJ's life - from his mother to his wife Lady Bird to Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House and Johnson's mentor in national politics - are superb and detailed. However, Caro's unsparing portrait of LBJ as a power-obsessed liar and bully who would stop at nothing to succeed greatly offended many of LBJ's associates whom Caro had interviewed, as well as liberal historians who cherished Johnson's activism on Civil Rights and other liberal causes (and who conveniently wanted to forget Johnson's record in Vietnam and elsewhere). Many of Caro's sources have refused to be interviewed for his later books on Johnson, and historians such as Robert Dallek have written their own LBJ biographies in which they specifically single out and criticize Caro's view of Johnson. Yet far from disproving his arguments, the release of once-secret documents about Vietnam, as well as other biographies written over the last 20 years, have only confirmed many of Caro's assertions about Johnson. LBJ's bullying of even his closest aides, his vote-stealing in the 1948 Senate election, his illegal business schemes that allowed him to go from being literally "dirt poor" to a multimillionaire on a government worker's salary, his shameless brown-nosing of powerful politicians, even while he had love affairs with their wives and girlfriends - all of the allegations made by Caro in 1982 have since been confirmed elsewhere. The fact that Lyndon Johnson was a lousy human being shouldn't be blamed on Caro - he simply dug up the facts (much of which Johnson had tried to hide from the public, such as cutting out all the unflattering photos of himself in hundreds of his college's yearbooks)! Yet despite the shocking and disturbing revelations in this book, Caro does seem to have a sneaking admiration for Johnson's unceasing drive and energy - the LBJ who emerges in this book may be unappealing in

The Best Biography Written

Forget about what your opinion of LBJ is. You still need to read this book. I don't care if you like him, hate him, care nothing for him, or whatever. The way Caro writes a biography is almost breathtaking. Ever wonder what a summer day deep in the Texas Hill country is like? You'll find out in here, and rest assured, it won't put you to sleep.This book is a great introducation to 20th Century Texas politics. The first few chapters hardly mention LBJ as Caro goes back to LBJ's father and discusses his life. For those of you that have read this book and the 1987 sequel, Means of Ascent, you may be wondering why the third volume covering the 1960s hasn't been written. I have it on good authority that the entire LBJ clan -- family, friends, and close advisors -- have made it clear to Caro that he is unwelcome around them. Hatchet job, or sour grapes because of the truth? Well, read the book and find out. But my guess is that Caro's terrific sources have simply dried up, and he isn't going to put his name on something where the quality is less than this book. Unfortunately for him, that might be near impossible.One more thing to the quality of this book: there are about a dozen other LBJ books out there ranging from good to just plain bad. Every one of them without exception use this book as a source.UPDATE: I am extremely happy to be wrong with my guess about Caro's sources drying up. I am looking forward to reading Master of the Senate.

The Zenith of Biographical Writing

Thank God for Robert Caro, who is a brilliant researcher, complier of facts and an outstanding writer. His way with words is leagues ahead of other historical biographers, he writes with the flair of a novelist but he backs up his words with years of dilligent research. What other biographer pulls up stakes and lives for *five years* in the Texas hill country in order to better understand his subject? This first volume stands at the pinnacle of the biographical art.Many have criticized Caro (John Connelly most vociferously) for being overly critical of Johnson. I share this concern and feel he sometimes bends over backwards to "stick it to" Johnson. Caro has said repeatedly that he will deal with LBJ's Presidency with a more charitible outlook and this is to be hoped. I am an unabashed fan of Lyndon Johnson and this will stand as the definitive biography of him for many years. Though it's caustic and critical, it's so beautifully written you can read it again and again. A masterpiece of biography.

The autoritative LBJ biography.

Caro's work is simply flabbergasting. I read the 768 page book in a week flat (and ordered Vol. 2 at the mid-point to ensure I could seamlessly continue).The key to the work is the way in which Caro is able to take a complex set of events and explain it in the context of a central theme. For example, Caro uses the building of the Marshall Ford dam to explain the urgency with which Herman Brown and Alvin Wirtz worked to get Johnson elected to the House.In short, the book is well-written, thorough, and smart. Caro adds the extra value we require of a historian -- that is, he doesn't merely retell events, he places them in a coherent context so that we can understand what made LBJ. In the end, the portrait is a complex but ultimately scary one of power sought for power's sake.
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