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

4.52 of 5 stars 4.52  ·  rating details  ·  5,669 ratings  ·  768 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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Mcgyver5 I would pick Master of the Senate as the strongest and it is the one I would read again if I had to pick one. It is the one with the most action, the…moreI would pick Master of the Senate as the strongest and it is the one I would read again if I had to pick one. It is the one with the most action, the one that leaves the reader most enriched. Each book, besides telling LBJ's life story, had very intense focus on a specific LBJ subject.

First Book = Johnson's personality development
Second Book = Senate campaign against Coke Stephenson
Third Book = History of the Senate.
fourth book = Aftermath of JFK assassination

I felt the Senate years, nothing could top that.(less)
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Community Reviews

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A.J. Howard
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
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
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
Lyndon Johnson got to me in the few years between gaining the presidency in Dallas and the escalation of horror in Vietnam. His towering presence leaned over me, inches from my soul, and his bellowing voice called me to the immortal words, "We Shall Overcome." Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he raised my awareness of each child living in poverty. He got me with his passion for equal education, voting rights for minorities, and his War on Poverty.

Only a few years would pass until I saw the othe
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
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
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
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
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

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
Jeanne Thornton
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
George Anders
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
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
Mal Warwick
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
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
David Bales
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
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
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
Steve Turtell
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
Aaron Arnold
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
Evan Barrett
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
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
My copy is on its way! I have been waiting years for this volume. Thank you, Robert Caro!
Every bit as good as the other volumes.
I had been avoiding this book because I viewed it as kind of a placeholder between "Master of the Senate" and the future final volume. But no! It is breathtaking, especially the descriptions of people waking up to Johnson's power.

For example, to help him with his legislative agenda, which he had inherited from Kennedy and was being blocked by his former colleagues in the senate, Johnson assembled all the governors in town for Kennedy's funeral (some of the
Robert Caro is writing far more than the biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. He is also writing a treatise on power and powerful men. This is volume 4 of the series and concerns the years 1956 to 1964. We follow LBJ as he tries to acheive his goal of being the presidential nominee, as he is humiliated as Vice President, and as he adroitly takes over the presidency upon JFK's assasination. But we also learn how JFK defeated death on numerous occassions and manages to win the 1960 Democratic nominatio ...more
I love Caro's multi-volume biography of LBJ. I tore through the first three volumes last year, and I got The Passage of Power as soon as it came out. He's a wonderful writer (if easily parodied). The chapter in The Path to Power about Hill Country women making do in a land without electricity was mind-boggling, and Caro is predictably good telling the story of the JFK assassination and the minutes, hours and days immediately afterward, where LBJ assumed command. Caro can switch from extreme clos ...more
I just finished listening to the last of the 27 CDs of Book Four of Robert Caro's, Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, and I don't know what to do with myself--I am bereft, and I miss LBJ. I miss his brilliant tactical moves as a legislator (How we could use him with this logjammed Congress!)and yes, his malice and vindictiveness, but also his magnanimous gestures. He walked into the segregated "40-Acre Club" in Austin with his African-American secretary (the first of any President to hire a B ...more
Whew! I just finished this book, the fourth volume of Caro's unbeleiveable biography of Lyndon Johnson. This one goes from the the runup to the 1960 Presdientail election campaign through the assasination of JFK and then up through LBJ's first year as President. Caro, who writes a volume every 10 years, promises that the fifth will be the last -which means it will cover passage of Medicare(hard to believe a Congress coudl do that), the Vietnam War, and the 1968 Presidential campaign (Johnson res ...more
Ed Smiley
This is an amazing book.

The description of the transfer of power in Dallas from LBJ's perspective, crushed by a secret service agent who placed his body over him, slamming around as the car spun braked, swerved, overhearing snippets of secret service walkie-talkies ("he's been hit") rushed through the hospital by armed guards. Stunning.

It is the story of a humiliated LBJ, first reduced to a Vice-Presidential sidekick, disrespected by the Kennedy team, haunted by a fear of failure.

It is the triu
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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)
Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #3) 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 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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“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.” 7 likes
“President Kennedy’s eloquence was designed to make men think; President Johnson’s hammer blows are designed to make men act.” 5 likes
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