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Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnsonby Robert A. Caro
Synopses & Reviews
"The main emotion that the reader, or at least one reader, comes away with is anger: anger at a government that for so long could tolerate a body of leaders who succeeded at stalling the cause of reform in this country, and anger at a citizenry that also would allow such a government to rule them. If nothing else, Caro has given concrete illustrations of how democracy can go awry in the hands of selfish, power-hungry men." D. K. Holm, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
The most riveting political biography of our time, Robert A. Caros life of Lyndon B. Johnson, continues. Master of the Senate takes Johnsons story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 through 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnsons brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history and how he used his incomparable legislative genius--seducing both Northern liberals and Southern conservatives--to pass the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction. Brilliantly weaving rich detail into a gripping narrative, Caro gives us both a galvanizing portrait of Johnson himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings of legislative power.
"Although Caro grudgingly acknowledges Johnson's achievements, the real juice of this book lies in his tales of Johnson's underhanded and self-serving behavior. Unlike some biographers (David McCullough, for example, who seems to fall in love with the presidents he chronicles), Caro is fatally attracted to the kind of man he can hate. Nothing gets his Oedipal adrenaline going like a successful, powerful man of great accomplishment and impure heart. Especially if that man is a liberal. Character flaws are Caro's specialty." Ronald Steele, Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
About the Author
Robert A. Caro was graduated from Princeton University, was for six years an award-winning investigative reporter for Newsday, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
To create The Power Broker, Caro spent seven years tracing and talking with hundreds of men and women who worked with, for, or against Robert Moses, and examining mountains of files never before opened to the public. The Power Broker won both the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians for the book that “exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist.” It was chosen by Modern Library as one of the hundred greatest nonfiction books of the twentieth century.
To research The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Caro and his wife, Ina, moved from his native New York City to the Texas Hill Country and then to Washington, D.C., to live in the locales in which Johnson grew up and in which he built, while still young, his first political machines. He has spent years examining documents at the Johnson Library in Austin and interviewing men and women connected with Johnson’s life, many of whom had never before been interviewed. The first volume of the Johnson work, The Path to Power, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for the best nonfiction work of 1982. The second volume, Means of Ascent, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1990. In preparation for writing Master of the Senate, the third volume, Caro immersed himself in the world of the United States Senate, spending week after week in the gallery, in committee rooms, in the Senate Office Building, and interviewing hundreds of people, from pages and cloakroom clerks to senators and administrative aides. Master of the Senate won the 2002 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Among the numerous other awards Caros has won are the H.L. Mencken Award, the Carr P. Collins, Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
His website is www.robertcaro.com.
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