May Book Review

The Years of Lyndon Johnson The Passage of Power
This month’s review is by Richard Bellikoff
The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power
by Robert A. Caro

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power

Like some latter-day Edward Gibbon chronicling not the Roman Empire but the life of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro has devoted decades of his life to his multi-volume biography. This is book four of the series. Caro takes us behind the scenes to witness Johnson’s failure to secure the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination. LBJ suffers through three years of abject humiliation, after trading his Senate majority leader’s omnipotence for the powerlessness of the vice presidency in a JFK administration that only wanted him on the ticket to win Southern votes. JFK’s assassination catapults LBJ into the presidency. As the nation grieves, Johnson swiftly steps into his new role, deploying his formidable legislative skills to launch the Great Society and lay the groundwork for Civil Rights. LBJ’s career trajectory, his blood feud with Bobby Kennedy and his complicated and enigmatic personality are all vividly rendered in lucid, compelling prose. Caro intended this book to conclude his LBJ saga, but decided that he needed a fifth and final volume to cover the fateful Vietnam years. Caro is now 77. May he live long enough to finish it.


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