The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro

The Passage of Power

By Robert A. Caro

  • Release Date: 2012-05-01
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 260 Ratings
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Book Four of Robert A. Caro’s monumental The Years of Lyndon Johnson displays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led the Times of London to acclaim it as “one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age.  A masterpiece.”
The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career—1958 to1964.  It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.
By 1958, as Johnson began to maneuver for the presidency, he was known as one of the most brilliant politicians of his time, the greatest Senate Leader in our history. But the 1960 nomination would go to the young senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy. Caro gives us an unparalleled account of the machinations behind both the nomination and Kennedy’s decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, revealing the extent of Robert Kennedy’s efforts to force Johnson off the ticket. With the consummate skill of a master storyteller, he exposes the savage animosity between Johnson and Kennedy’s younger brother, portraying one of America’s great political feuds. Yet Robert Kennedy’s overt contempt for Johnson was only part of the burden of humiliation and isolation he bore as Vice President. With a singular understanding of Johnson’s heart and mind, Caro describes what it was like for this mighty politician to find himself altogether powerless in a world in which power is the crucial commodity.
            For the first time, in Caro’s breathtakingly vivid narrative, we see the Kennedy assassination through Lyndon Johnson’s eyes. We watch Johnson step into the presidency, inheriting a staff fiercely loyal to his slain predecessor; a Congress determined to retain its power over the executive branch; and a nation in shock and mourning. We see how within weeks—grasping the reins of the presidency with supreme mastery—he propels through Congress essential legislation that at the time of Kennedy’s death seemed hopelessly logjammed and seizes on a dormant Kennedy program to create the revolutionary War on Poverty. Caro makes clear how the political genius with which Johnson had ruled the Senate now enabled him to make the presidency wholly his own.  This was without doubt Johnson’s finest hour, before his aspirations and accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam.
            In its exploration of this pivotal period in Johnson’s life—and in the life of the nation—The Passage of Power is not only the story of how he surmounted unprecedented obstacles in order to fulfill the highest purpose of the presidency but is, as well, a revelation of both the pragmatic potential in the presidency and what can be accomplished when the chief executive has the vision and determination to move beyond the pragmatic and initiate programs designed to transform a nation.  It is an epic story told with a depth of detail possible only through the peerless research that forms the foundation of Robert Caro’s work, confirming Nicholas von Hoffman’s verdict that “Caro has changed the art of political biography.”


  • Amazing

    By Eyedocnj
    Caro sets the standard for all biographers.
  • The Passage of Power

    By moonwalker925
    One of greatest stories never told . Caro is masterful as always in bringing us deep into the bowels of history and our hero , LBJ . Bring on the rest of it soon , even if it could and should require two final volumes to do him justice. I can see one book just on Vietnam , the other the Great Society .
  • Excellent

    By Talk about Music
    Being a direct beneficiary of many of the bills he championed as President I often wondered what made a man from Texas do the things he did. Thankfully, Robert Caro shows me with this and the other LBJ books what made the man from his family history, to his relationship with father and why he did those things and what made him the man he was LBJ. Thank you and so looking forward to the final book in the series.
  • Insider

    By Life's Purpose
    What a great read. Actually, it was a listen because I bought the audio version and listened to it on my drive to La Jolla. I felt like an insider in the politics of the early 60's. It had far more about the Kennedy's than I expected, but the lives of these men were so entwined that the book had to tell both stories. Thorough, insightful, smart and addictive. What a great book.
  • LBJ

    By Dan Kinard
    Excellent. Very readable.
  • The Passage of Power

    By Diprog
    The book itself is brilliant: beautifully written, exhaustively researched, illuminating, incisive -- an immersive experience. The iBook version doesn't do it justice -- all flaws and typos, the worst of which is dropped pages at the ends of chapters. Someone should be fired for doing a classic such a disservice...and readers who had to put up with this incompetence deserve a refund.
  • Masterful

    By JazzReview
    Robert Caro is the Master of the Written Word. Meticulously researched and gripping, this fourth volume on LBJ covers the critical period from his run for the vice presidency through his unexpected assumption of the presidency. Can't put it down. Worthy of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer.
  • heroic

    By Terry Weldon
    This volume proves that only LBJ--certainly not the Kennedy's--had the will and skill to pass the nation-changing Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the even more important Voting Rights Act of 1965. and, in this volume Caro overcomes the obvious distaste hr has for Johnson's personality and gives him full credit for his achievements.