The Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 3)
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The Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson #3)

4.48 of 5 stars 4.48  ·  rating details  ·  6,423 ratings  ·  382 reviews
Book Three of Robert A. Caro's monumental work, " The Years of Lyndon Johnson"--the most admired and riveting political biography of our era--which began with the best-selling and prizewinning "The Path to Power and Means of Ascent."
"Master of the Senate" carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 to 1960, in the...more
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Published April 23rd 2002 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2002)
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Erik Simon
Maybe the single greatest book on how politics in modern America works. This is the third of a projected four-volume bio on LBJ, and the first two were superior books, but this thing is a masterpiece. To my thinking, it's the second greatest history book written about America.
Brendan
Robert Caro has got to be the best American biographer of the past 50 years. It's sad that he's only turned out 4 books in the last 35 years, but each one is so exceptionally researched and well-written.

Master of the Senate is another chapter in Caro's multi-volume study of Lyndon Johnson, focusing on his time in the Senate, specifically his efforts to pass the first Civil Rights bill since Reconstruction. His study of the political dynamics of the Senate in the 1950s, including the entrenched...more
Leslie
Jan 19, 2009 Leslie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in US politics
This is an excellent book on two levels: it sheds light on the character of Lyndon Johnson and it reveals the intricate workings of the US Senate. I was appalled by the side of LBJ that Caro uncovers. He was an ego-maniacal bully who used physical intimidation and lies to manipulate those around him. He was the youngest Senator to hold the position of Senate majority leader and he was truly masterful at claiming and wielding the power that came with that position. The book uses the famous Civil...more
Matt
As I was reading this book, I thought back to our recent election, and to a minor flap that occurred when Michelle Obama said she was "proud" of America for the first time in her life. Some people - white people - didn't, or couldn't, understand what she meant. They should probably read this book, for while it is a dense, incredibly detailed chronicle of Lyndon Johnson's Senate years, it is also the story of civil rights in America.

It's a disgusting story.

There were times I was so infuriated r...more
John
I can't wait for the final volume of this to come out. While everyone I know told me I was crazy for delving into a three volume bio of LBJ that ends just as he finally becomes V.P., it is a great reminder that politics has always been dirty and the dirtiest always win (Oh, yeah...the country also loses then.) Having said that I found the LBJ in the book one of those amazing characters who made me battle myself. Half the time I loved him and half the time I hated him. In domestic policy the goal...more
Jessica
Mar 28, 2009 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: everyone i've ever known who's read it
I've started about eight books in the past week, but I can't get into any of them. I've just been flailing around in the Proust, and nothing else I've tried to read lately has done anything for me.... so tonight I decided to stop this charade and go for what I want.

I've suspected for awhile that I was born to read this book, yet I keep telling myself it's not time yet. There's something a little scary about starting a book like this one. What if it's not as mindblowing as I think it's going to b...more
Frank Stein
Yes, this, the third volume in the Johnson biography, is also one of the best books ever written, like the other ones. And yes, I can't wait until the next volume comes out.

Caro is such a great writer because he is so honestly interested in the minutiae of process, and he treats all his great works as procedural thrillers. He doesn't just want to know that Johnson was able to win a vote in the Senate, he wants to know exactly what horse-trades he had to make, what motions he would use to speed u...more
Mh
After 3 volumes and 3000+ pages (probably 4000+ counting all the notes, which are well worth reading), I can't think of a better term to describe this bio of LBJ than "page-turner." Actually, I can think of lots of better terms: compelling, gripping, exhaustively detailed, amazingly well researched and documented, vivid, compassionate, fair, unblinking, dogged, and probably the greatest analysis of political power in 20th century America that will ever be written.

Quite simply, I love this book,...more
Sue
As one who has come late to the magisterial multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, I continue to be amazed at Robert Caro’s skill in walking the tightrope of scholarly research and lively presentation. After recently reading volumes one and two, I had come to know the man from Texas, and now in volume three I’ve seen LBJ truly in his element, trading favors and exploiting arcane rules to turn the Senate on its complacent ear. Yet even as I call LBJ “the man from Texas,” I know where he prefer...more
Steven
Quite simply, one of the finest books I have ever read. Some have acturatley described Caro's biographies as more akin to a thriller )or western) than a political biography. This volume is lengthy but reads terribly quickly and chronilces Johnson's rise to power and political machinations in the U.S. Senate. Especially memorable events chronicled included Johnson's efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first such bill since Reconstruction. Another beloved aspect of the book are the r...more
Hugh Ashton
This book is deceptive, and is not what it purports to be. It's actually much more than an account of LBJ's years as a Senator.

It provides an account of the US Senate as an institution – an institution which was originally developed at least partly as a defense against populism, and partly as a way in which the states could confer on more equal terms than in the House of Representatives.

After the Civil War, however, it came to be a symbol of opposition to progress, particularly in the field of s...more
Denae
I knew practically nothing about Lyndon Johnson when I started to read this. Other than knowing he was in office when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and having a deep familiarity with the employment law aspects of that act, I knew little about him other than his "Great Society" legislation, and even that vaguely. This book chronicles, with great detail, his time in Congress, particularly that time he spent in the Senate. I am not certain I have ever taken so long to read a single book,...more
Judy
I really liked the first two volumes in Caro's life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Means of Ascent and The Path to Power, but this third volume was definitely the best of the three. Here, Caro focuses on Lyndon Johnson during the Senate years from 1949, when he first entered the Senate, until 1960 when he was elected Vice President. Caro continues to portray Johnson as an extremely complex individual. One side of the man was a Machiavellian bully intent on furthering his own interests through the tra...more
Jessica
Make no mistake: Lyndon Baines Johnson was a stone cold, LEGISLATIVE ANIMAL. His accomplishments, maneuvering, and overall dominance as a tactician are all the more remarkable when you consider the regular, alternating fits of paralysis and tantruming that have unfortunately come to characterize the modern day, pitiful excuse for the United States Senate we've inherited. Caro's knowledge, both of the institution and of the man himself, is clearly comprehensive, but what I loved about "Master of...more
Vicky
I'm not actually finished with this very large, third book in the series. I'm taking a hiatus. I read the other 2 and started the 3rd in too short a time span. It has changed everything I thought I knew or felt about LBJ. I'm still waiting for the part about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For that act alone, he always seemed like a hero. Especially after reading the Taylor Branch series about America during the King years. But now that I've come to know Johnson (through Caro's word...more
Dave Gaston
Another big book I’m going to miss all summer long (thank God there are 3 in the series!!). Stacked up against two of my favorites on Johnson ("Taking Charge" and "Reaching For Glory” by Michael Beshloss) Caro’s "Master" is the clear winner. Perhaps it was Caro's writing style, somehow he just got to the heart of the man. It could also have been the life events of Johnson. LBJ was at his strutting-cock prime in the Senate and this book captured the sweet spot of his career. Caro brings it all ba...more
Michael
Just getting started on this volume but the opening chapters on the history of the US Senate alone are worth the read.

And at the finish I have to say the last third about pushing a voting rights bill through the sausage maker read like a suspense novel.
Ben
Another masterpiece! Although I loved this book, I preferred the first two volumes, mostly because "Master of the Senate" gets into the nitty-gritty of getting legislation passed instead of focusing on Johnson's journey. I loved reading about Johnson's ridiculously shameless campaigning and there isn't more than a few sentences in this book about them because he's an established Master of the Senate almost from page one. However, even an anti-wonk like myself enjoyed learning about how Lyndon pu...more
Charles
There is one volume of this extraordinary six-volume work yet to be published and it seems impossible to isolate any one of them for specific praise: this is simply the most engrossing, labyrinthine, elegant, penetrating and visionary work of American history that I have ever read.

This is not only the story of one brilliant, devious, driven, complicated and ruthless man, but no more nor less than an autopsy of the origins of modern American politics. It is also a dissection of the organs of gov...more
Jonathan Kranz
Look, Caro is a national treasure. In this book, as in others, Caro gives us a bone-deep exploration of POWER: what it is, how it is obtained, how it's applied. As such, his books rank up there with Machiavelli and De Tocqueville for their richness of political insight. In this, the third volume of his biography of LBJ, Caro focuses on his subject's senate years -- and that's both its strength and its weakness.

It's a strength, in that close observation of the senate parallels close observation o...more
Robert  Price Rifkin
Caro is the great New York historian who spent most of a decade writing the glorious POWER BROKER, the book that captured urban architect and mad visionary, Robert Moses in all his excesses, genius and heartlessness. Caro then decided to vacation by spending the next forty years working on a massive, multi volume biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

“Master of the Senate” is the middle volume that traces Johnson’s accession to and virtual takeover of the Senate. Lear as modern politico. The very...more
John Woltjer
After 15 years as a Prep School History teacher, I found this the single best book I have ever read regarding the functioning (or malfunctioning) of the US Senate. We like to believe that after the end of the Civil War there was progress made in the process of fully integrating the freed Blacks into American society, and we also know that there were fits and starts in the process. I was born in 1955, one year after Brown V. Board of Education, the year that the Supreme Court ruled Plessy v. Ferg...more
M. Milner
The third volume of Robert Caro’s massive Lyndon Johnson biography, The Master of the Senate is a huge, 1,000-page history not just of Johnson’s Senate years but also of that political body itself. It’s not just in-depth, though: it’s as compelling as any of the previous two volumes and actually a bit better.

The book shows Johnson's quick rise from a powerless Senator to the youngest Majority Leader in it's history and the heights and depths he was capable of. Nearly singlehandedly, he demolishe...more
Eric Kibler
Great.

Great biography. Great history. A masterful recreation of the U.S. Senate in the 1950s. And a masterful account of the exploits of the man who tamed it and mastered it for a time.

Caro's "The Years of Lyndon Johnson" series amplifies the lessons in Machiavelli's "The Prince" by showing their nuts and bolts application in a twentieth century life.
Mark
The third volume of Robert Caro's epic biography of Lyndon Johnson covers what would prove to be the pivotal years in his ascent to the presidency -- his years in the United States Senate. Here he sets out to achieve three goals: to show how Johnson exercised power, to chronicle how Johnson positioned himself to run for the presidency, and to explain the conundrum of Johnson's personality. In the first two goals Caro's book is an unqualified success, as Caro explains how Johnson transformed the...more
Sergei
My favorite part is in Chapter 4, where Lyndon B. loses the 1941 Senate election by reporting his stolen votes too early and thereby letting his opponent, W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, know exactly how many votes *he* needed to steal to win. Texas politics is the best.
Mark
A phenomenal book on many levels. As an exploration of a complex character, the mechanics of how things get done in Congress, and cultural history. I could not recommend this more highly.
Ben
The third and most hefty volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson series, this Pulitzer Prize-winner is no casual reading experience. Anyone with a healthy appreciation of the art of politics, America’s 20th century civil rights struggle, or the potential of journalistic biography should consider making the commitment to read this book. Johnson’s meteoric rise to power within the U.S. Senate, and his systematic success at helping to transform the institution during the 1950s, get a thorough and int...more
JK
So... I FINALLY finished "The Master of the Senate" by Robert Caro - the 3rd in a 5 volume series on President Lyndon Johnson. I put the date in books when I purchase them and this was dated April 2003. It didn't take quite that long to read it - I had to read the first two books in the series, but it was close. Why did it take forever to read it... not because it was a bad read, but because LBJ was such a manipulative skeezeball, I'd get disgusted with how he would take pleasure in destroying p...more
Sheffy
If you only read one political biography in your life... well it should probably be Team of Rivals. But if you read a second, this is it. My life will be complete without having to read any more books Lyndon Baines Johnson, or the Senate, for that matter. Caro churns out another biography of Johnson every 10 years (!) and this third installment, covering just the 10 years between 1948 and ~1958, his life in the Senate was a whopping 1234 pages (I didn’t make the number up). Why was the book so l...more
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He's the author of The Power Broker (1974), for which he won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize. It's a biography of Robert Moses, an urban planner and leading builder of New York City. President Obama said that he read the biography when he was 22 years old and that the book "mesmerized" him. Obama said, "I'm sure it helped to shape how I think about politics."
Caro has also written four biographies on Lyndo...more
More about Robert A. Caro...
The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #1) Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #2) The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #4) Robert A. Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson Set: The Path to Power; Means of Ascent; Master of the Senate; The Passage of Power

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“This man who in the pursuit of his aims could be so utterly ruthless—who would let nothing stand in his way; who, in the pursuit, deceived, and betrayed and cheated—would be deceiving and betraying and cheating on behalf of something other than himself: specifically, on behalf of the sixteen million Americans whose skins were dark. All through Lyndon Johnson’s political life—as” 0 likes
“Abraham Lincoln struck off the chains of black Americans, but it was Lyndon Johnson who led them into voting booths, closed democracy’s sacred curtain behind them, placed their hands upon the lever that gave them a hold on their own destiny, made them, at last and forever, a true part of American political life.” 0 likes
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