Cheryl's Reviews > The Passage of Power

The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro
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's review
Sep 23, 12

bookshelves: biography
Read from September 05 to 11, 2012

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 other side of LBJ. The power he sought and finally possessed overshadowed his humanity. He seemed to forget the needs of others that had been imprinted on him as a child. With the immorality of Vietnam, I left Johnson, but for a while and even today, a part of me is still his.

Robert Caro's THE PASSAGE OF POWER reminds me of Johnson's unique gifts, and how he used them masterfully to benefit us all.

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Quotes Cheryl Liked

Robert A. Caro
“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.”
Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power

Reading Progress

09/09/2012 page 343
46.0% "Johnson crowded Robert Kennedy in the kitchen with, "Why don't you like me?" Bobby wouldn't answer him."
09/09/2012 page 375
50.0% ""A Texas murder had put a Texan in power," as one Kennedy partisan was to say. Johnson felt this deeply. "I was still illegitimate, a naked man, a pretender, an illegal usurper. And then there was Texas, my home, the home of the murder.""
09/09/2012 page 522
70.0% ""Dear John, It will be many years before you understand fully what a great man your father was. You can always be proud of him. Affectionately, Lyndon B. Johnson.""
09/10/2012 page 736
100.0% "" We Shall Overcome' were not the only words by which the presidency of Lyndon Johnson will be remembered. 'Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids did you kill today?""

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Murray Interesting take on the book and LBJ - a complex man who did extraordinary things.

Cheryl Yes, Murray, LBJ had extraordinary skills which did not translate in his decisions about Vietnam. Very sad for so many men's lives.

Murray Agree. I remember living through that period and feeling my generation being needlessly slaughtered - as a Brit I was never going to be conscripted, but I had American friends who were.
Caro's books captures the enigma of the man.

Cheryl So glad you were spared. For our generation the war left scars that still have not healed. Caro is true to his premise: how did Johnson use power, and his portrayal of LBJ rings true. (I live in Dallas, Tx)Thanks for your comments. I've enjoyed hearing your views.

message 5: by Thing Two (new)

Thing Two Thinking of picking this up as a gift for my husband. He graduated from Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, as did LBJ. Is there much about LBJ's pre-political life in this?

Cheryl This is the fourth volume, Thing Two. It covers his VP, Dallas, and his first year as Pres. Earlier volumes: The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, Master of the Senate would be a good starting point, but each can be read depending on the timeframe your husband might enjoy. It is especially interesting for those who have something in common with LBJ.

Murray Hi Thing Two - the first two volumes are a remarkable read - but it is only in Volume 2 that you begin to explore LBJ' extraordinary rise to political power. If you are only going to choose one (and I found vol 2 cheap in a second hand online store) I would go for Volume 2. It is utterly gripping.

Nathaniel Forgive if a certain presumption is necessary at this late , highly corporate, stage of "democracy". I think this book is bad, and has been favorably reviewed because it is so safe. Here is a dissenting view. I intend only to provoke democratic yaking, which is so difficult in today's completely corporate world, where all disagreement about what really matters is niched until the body politic is a corpse

message 9: by Howard (new)

Howard Well done, Cheryl. I feel the same ambivalence about the man that you indicated.

I read the first two LBJ volumes years ago. More recently, I purchased the third. However, before reading it, I went back and re-read the first two.

Like the work of all historians, Caro's conclusions are subject to interpretation. Consequently, not all readers are going to agree with him. My own opinion is that he is to be commended for the gargantuan task that he has undertaken and I found only a few very rare instances in the first two books in which I questioned him.

These are very long, detailed books, but I'm looking foward to reading them all (assuming I live long enough.

Cheryl Thanks, Howard for your kind comment. Caro's contribution to the Johnson era is immense, I think because of the scope and detail of each book as you say. I am a Texan and have visited Johnson's ranch and various sites in Austin that commenorate the President and his wife including the LBJ Library. I suppose my location makes the earlier books more intense and real to me. So in writing the review, it was an overview, my impressions, that make the most sense to me. Oh, and I'm worried about Caro's mortality (approaching or is in his eighties). I want to read about LBJ's retirement to the ranch, his mental state and his legacy. Bet you do too...

message 11: by Howard (new)

Howard I am making a road trip with two of my brothers to Texas later this month. One of the places that we will be visiting is the Hill Country, which will include, of course, LBJ country.

I don't believe that Johnson and Richard Nixon are the most admirable American politicians of my time, but I do find them to be the most fascinating.

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