The Passage Of Power: The Years Of Lyndon Johnson
- Publish Date: 2012-05-01
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Robert A. Caro
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WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE, THE MARK LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE, THE AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK PRIZE
NAMED BYTHE NEW YORK TIMESONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Economist * Time *Newsweek * Foreign Policy * Business Week * The Week * The Christian Science Monitor *Newsday
By the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Power Broker.
Book Four of Robert A. Caros monumentalThe Years of Lyndon Johnsondisplays all the narrative energy and illuminating insight that led theTimesof London to acclaim it as one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. A masterpiece.
The Passage of Powerfollows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career1958 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 assassins 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 Kennedys decision to offer Johnson the vice presidency, revealing the extent of Robert Kennedys efforts to force Johnson off the ticket. With the consummate skill of a master storyteller, he exposes the savage animosity between Johnson and Kennedys younger brother, portraying one of Americas great political feuds. Yet Robert Kennedys overt contempt for Johnson was only part of the burden of humiliation and isolation he bore as Vice President. With a singular understanding of Johnsons 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 Caros breathtakingly vivid narrative, we see the Kennedy assassination through Lyndon Johnsons 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 weeksgrasping the reins of the presidency with supreme masteryhe propels through Congress essential legislation that at the time of Kennedys 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 Johnsons finest hour, before his aspirations and accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam.
In its exploration of this pivotal period in Johnsons lifeand in the life of the nationThe Passage of Poweris 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 Caros work, confirming Nicholas von Hoffmans verdict that Caro has changed the art of political biography.