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The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson #4)

4.48  ·  Rating Details ·  7,988 Ratings  ·  866 Reviews


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 t
Hardcover, 712 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2012)
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Mike With all of the time Caro spends with background on LBJ's life long grasp for power, I do believe that this book can stand on it's own.
Mike Of all of the volumes, Master of the Senate was absolutely the most fascinating.

Community Reviews

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A.J. Howard
Jan 02, 2016 A.J. Howard rated it it was amazing
Since the summer 2005, when I read the previous three volumes of Caro's majestic Years of Lyndon Johnson series, I have periodically checked the internet for updates on the final volume's release. When I saw that it was available for pre-order on Amazon I loudly whooped. I kinda hope that bookstores do a midnight release so I can dress up like Sam Rayburn and stay up reading all night. I may be crazy, but doesn't that cover look pretty sexy? Yes, my name is A.J., and I'm am fully aware that I'm ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson might be the great historical project of our time. These days, publishers seem to prefer everything to be contained in one volume. Thus, even topics as grand as the Second World War get crammed into a single book. But Robert Caro cannot be contained between two covers. His legendary expansiveness requires the clearing of entire forests. His scope and breadth and novelistic detail hearken back to Gibbon, Sandburg or Foote.

The Passage of Power is the four
May 21, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing
No one alive at the time will ever forget where they were and how they heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. I was in a grade school classroom when Sister Clemenza burst into the room, her eyes bulging with the news. Nothing could take me away from the television in the days that followed, every detail etching itself: from Cronkite choking back the sorrow at the official announcement; to Oswald, his mouth forming an "O"; to a young son's salute.

It wasn't just ten-year olds who were star-stru
It has been twelve years since the last volume was released, and thirty since the first. The next should hopefully come out in two or three years, says an article. Let's hope.

This book covers the era from 1959 to 1964, the slim few years between Johnson's acceptance of the Vice Presidency to the beginning of 1964, just over a month after the events of 11/22. Power passes from him and to him in nearly equal spans. The Senate Giveth and Kennedy Taketh Away.

Johnson was a man accustomed to, and obse
Jul 15, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
So I started this ages ago, but I must not have been that into it at the time because I put it down in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis and didn't pick it up again for an entire year. The problem I'd been having was the one I'd had with other books in the series, which is that while I adore Robert Caro's work and am enthralled by all his descriptions of the intricate and shocking machinations of government, I find Lyndon Baines Johnson, as a person, extraordinarily dull. So for the first b ...more
James Thane
Apr 26, 2015 James Thane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
The description accompanying this title very accurately summarizes the contents of this volume in Robert A. Caro's brilliant biography of LBJ, and so there's no point in repeating all of that here. Like the earlier volumes, this is an epic work: solidly researched, beautifully written, and very gripping, even though most readers will be well aware of the general history covered here. In particular, the chapters surrounding the day on which John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas capture in gr ...more
Patrick Brown
Dec 16, 2012 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2012
Robert Caro began researching this series of books in 1976, the year I was born. The scope and ambition of these books do more than cast long shadows, they fill the sky. Their success rests on several factors, including exhaustive research, but ultimately, they are so impressive primarily because their author is as good a storyteller as any novelist working today.

Caro is the unrivaled master of weaving the minutia into a grand tapestry. He never fails to set the historical stage for each moment
Apr 21, 2013 M rated it really liked it
I have read the first three books in this series and am looking forward to this one. If it is anything like the first books, it should be LONG and informative about the darker side of LBJ. Could anyone be as power hungry as he? I will most likely purchase this book as I have purchase the first three by Caro and I collect presidential biographies.
Amanda Linehan
Mar 29, 2012 Amanda Linehan marked it as to-read
Excerpt from this book on the Kennedy assassination through Johnson's eyes appeared in this week's New Yorker -- could NOT put it down.
Frank Stein
May 18, 2012 Frank Stein rated it it was amazing

This book, which takes Lyndon Johnson from the campaign of 1960, through his Vice Presidential years, and up to the first few months of his presidency, deserves a place among Caro's best works.

There are a few things that are infuriating in this book. Again and again the reader is treated to reminders that Johnson was a maniacal worker, and quotes like "He didn't want to be like Daddy." These are not only repeated ad nausem in this book, but were also repeated ad nausem in the three previous John
The last episode of season one of House of Cards ends with Francis J. Underwood (FU) sitting at his desk in his cabinet conspiring with the audience in the style of Richard III, and on the table there is a book lying. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV by Robert A. Caro. For someone watching the show that is familiar with Lyndon Johnson’s bio, the parallels between him and the protagonist in House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey, are obvious. Both FU and LBJ are savvy p ...more
George Anders
May 08, 2012 George Anders rated it really liked it
Lyndon Johnson gets older in this fourth installment of Robert Caro's epic presidential biography and so too -- unfortunately -- does the author. The early chapters are masterful. But Caro's story-telling and analysis begins to sputter in rather worrisome ways as the book builds to its dual climax of the Kennedy assassination and Johnson's rapid command of the presidency. I missed the firm command of his material that Caro showed in his earlier books. The master is 76 years old now, and for all ...more
Mal Warwick
Jul 06, 2012 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
Robert Caro's Masterful Portrait of Lyndon Johnson's Early Days as President

There are very few figures in history worthy of multi-volume biographies, much less one that runs to five books, the first four of which alone total nearly 3,600 pages. However, Robert Caro proves conclusively that his subject, President Lyndon Johnson, is fully deserving of the attention. One of the towering figures of the 20th Century, Johnson’s extraordinarily complex personality and the indelible imprint he left on A
David Bales
May 29, 2013 David Bales rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, 2013
Volume 4 in Caro's lengthy biography of Lyndon Johnson that I originally began, (Vol. 1) in 1982. This one deals with the election of 1960, and the intrigue and travails of LBJ as he attempts to wrest the nomination from John F. Kennedy and fails, and then accepts the nomination for vice president in a gamble, going from the most important Democrat in the country as the greatest Senate majority leader in history to a powerless second-in-command. Miserable as second banana, Johnson is propelled i ...more
Jeanne Thornton
Feb 03, 2015 Jeanne Thornton rated it it was amazing
So I started this the same day I finished "Master of the Senate," figuring I'd just read the introduction and mayyybe first couple of pages proper to whet my appetite for the thing over the course of the next few weeks. Instead I stayed up late reading the first 400 pages and then more every opportunity I got. The leisurely pace of Master of the Senate is pretty much gone; here we see Johnson vs Kennedy in the 1960 primary, a race through the three early years of the Kennedy administration in wh ...more
May 05, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
Caro's volumes on the years of Lyndon Johnson have brought the enigmatic, misunderstood and nearly forgotten 36th president back into his rightful spot as one of the great leaders of the 20th century.

The scope of this book is much more narrow than the previous volumes, confining itself to LBJ's endless humiliations as John Kennedy's vice president, his sudden ascension to power through Kennedy's death and Johnson's astonishing grasp of control over the next few months.

Caro constantly apologizes
Aaron Arnold
May 23, 2012 Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing
At this point in the series, you'll have made up your mind on Lyndon B. Johnson's character whether you wanted to or not. Caro has been so determined to show every wart, flaw, and imperfection he has that Robert Kennedy's verdict of "formidable but flawed, powerful but dangerous" is the default prism you view his every action through. This volume concentrates on both the lowest period of LBJ's adult life - the three long, painful years as John F Kennedy's ignored and ridiculed Vice President - a ...more
Nov 05, 2014 Max rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
In volume four we find out Johnson’s great skill at Senate politics does not translate to national politics. Whether due to arrogant presumptiveness, simple miscalculation or some of both, LBJ blows his chances for the 1960 presidential nomination. Caro suggests fear of failure kept LBJ from announcing earlier, running in primaries and sewing up some votes that might have stopped JFK. Not sure I see that since once JFK became the clear favorite after winning the West Virginia primary LBJ immedia ...more
Jun 30, 2013 Pat rated it it was amazing
This volume delves in to the years of 1960-1963 which covers the years of Johnson's vice presidency and the assassination of President Kennedy. A nation in mourning and seemingly oblivious to their new president during those first days of office. Those days were critical for the country. Johnson was masterful at making all the right decisions for a successful succession. Days that have been underrated by historians.

I would recommend this book highly for those who want to learn more about the tr
Daniel Comeaux
Nov 16, 2015 Daniel Comeaux rated it it was amazing
A tour de force. A true masterpiece. I don't quite know how else to describe this book, or the epic of which it is a part. What Caro accomplishes here, through the meticulous recounting of a relatively brief period in the life of Lyndon Johnson, might just be unrivaled (except, perhaps, by his own account of Robert Moses). If you've read any or all of the first three volumes, you will find the same qualities in this volume that suffuse the prior ones - painstaking reconstructions of some of the ...more
Steve Turtell
Aug 21, 2012 Steve Turtell rated it really liked it
Robert Caro has done it again. The Power Broker, his first, is one of my favorite books--there are several chapters in that book about Robert Moses I've read over and over again because they have the heft and depth of a small novel, like "One Mile" the chapter on the building of the Cross-Bronx Expressway, and the story of Alfred E. Smith, the first Catholic to run for president of the United States.

In Passage of Power, the same novelistic depth is given to the ferocious and mutual hatred of Ly
Evan Barrett
May 14, 2012 Evan Barrett rated it really liked it
I read all 3 previous volumes of this series just two years ago, and was avidly awaiting this new installment. I can only imagine the angst with which those who read Master of the Senate in 2002 had been waiting for it.

Caro does it again in terms of his inimitable gift for historical research, narrative, and psychoanalysis, although I'm not sure why it took his customary ten years with this one as it seems to me the amount of boots-on-the-ground research should have been greatly less than with t
Jun 08, 2012 Craig rated it it was amazing
One of the best I've ever read. This volume (the 4th in what was originally planned as a three volume work!) covers the years 1958 - 1963. It focuses on Johnson, of course, but it gets into the LBJ-RFK feud better than any other book I've read and goes into great detail on how LBJ contributed to Kennedy's victory in 1960.

More than this, Caro is a talented writer. He had the ability to bring historical characters to life and to set the scene so eloquently that I felt I was actually in the room wi
Sep 06, 2016 Betty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
Caro is writing well-researched, factual history, but he does so with the tools of literature. He doesn't shy away from foreshadowing, callbacks, subtext, and of course, extremely rich character development, and Caro's never met an emphatically repeated phrase he didn't deploy perfectly. In this interview in The Paris Review, he talks about how much he values *good* historical writing, and he clearly lives up to his own standards. He brings to life the enormous national tragedy of JFK's assassin ...more
Michael Griswold
Jul 28, 2016 Michael Griswold rated it really liked it
While some people believe that the fourth volume The Passage of Power covers the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson, it actually covers roughly 1958-63 with the majority of time spent on the 1960 election and its aftermath, his time as Kennedy’s Vice President, and the transition following his assassination. I would argue that the most pointed part of this book is the viscous feud between LBJ and Bobby Kennedy.

Much to many readers relief, this book is about 400 pages shorter than Master of the Senate
Nick Black
May 26, 2012 Nick Black rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nick by: Twitch
This fourth and final volume of The Johnson Years is an excellent wrapup, and almost as good as the third volume. The series overall I give two stars. It ought have been, at most, two volumes. The unceasing repetition of quotes, stories, and at times whole pages of material was infuriating in the extreme, and I don't at all understand how Caro came to be considered the "master of the policial biography". His earlier work on Robert Moses, The Power Broker, was far batter. I'm kind of depressed, h ...more
Steve Harrison
Jul 19, 2016 Steve Harrison rated it it was amazing
I thought this was the best volume since the first of this fabulous biography/political history series. It provided a brilliant insight into the John Kennedy assassination and its immediate political aftermath when Lyndon Johnson was thrust suddenly into the Presidency. And, gee, was he ready! Very, very highly recommended.
Dec 19, 2012 Nathaniel rated it did not like it

It seems as if Caro had one overriding goal: to avoid comparing JFK with LBJ on policies, so the myth of policy continuity between these two presidents-- a myth propagated by the billionaire media which is married to the lone nut bs for its own credibility as Communications professor Barbie Zelizer shows brilliantly Covering the Bod
Jul 19, 2012 Britann rated it it was amazing
My copy is on its way! I have been waiting years for this volume. Thank you, Robert Caro!
David Hepworth
Drumming fingers impatiently, waiting for number five.
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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 about Robert A. Caro...

Other Books in the Series

The Years of Lyndon Johnson (4 books)
  • The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #1)
  • Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #2)
  • Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #3)

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“But although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said ... is that power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary. ... But as a man obtains more power, camouflage becomes less necessary.” 15 likes
“We have talked long enough ... about civil rights,' Lyndon Johnson had said. 'It is time ... to write it in the books of law' - to embody justice and equality in legislation.” 8 likes
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