UChicagoLaw's Reviews > Master of the Senate

Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro
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Jun 25, 10

bookshelves: faculty-recommendations
Read in January, 2008

The book covers Johnson’s years in the Senate (1949-1960) in painstaking detail, describing everything from his greatest legislative victories to his minor tussles over office space and staff. What’s fascinating about the work is the way in which it demonstrates that no single factor, personal or political, can explain the rise of an historical figure of Johnson’s significance. Johnson’s unparalleled success in the Senate would not have been possible but for a combination of overwhelming personal ability, historical trends (over which he exerted no control), and simple blind luck; without a few crucial breaks, even Johnson -- maybe as talented a politician as has ever lived -- would have seen his career languish. The book thus provides ample ammunition for fans of both "great person" and social environment theories of history without truly satisfying either. - Jonathan Masur

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