Ed 's Reviews > The Passage of Power

The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro
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May 25, 12

Read in May, 2012

I realized recently that having read the first three volumes of Caro's biography of LBJ plus his monumental work on Robert Moses (The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) that I may have read more of Caro's words than any other writer besides Shakespeare. Seems odd but since the Moses biog is over 1300 pages and the first three of the Johnson saga are a bit over 2500 with another 780 to go in Volume Four...
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Caro's mega-biography of Lyndon Johnson and his world clanks on with hundreds of page of recapitulation of previous volumes--he will reference "Master of the Senate" and follow with a 50 page summing up of what he had written in the earlier book--interspersed with some brilliantly evocative prose and an ability to hammer away at one aspect of Johnson's career--here his hatred for and enmity with Robert Kennedy, echoes of feeling held just as fiercely by Kennedy toward Johnson. I am not sure how to best approach this behemoth other than to do what I have done which is read every work in each volume as it is published and then glance through the most recent one when a the next volume is on the horizon. It belongs with Macaulay's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", Shelby Foote's three volume narrative history of the civil war or Carl Sandburg's six volume life of Lincoln, works that inform us as much about the popular prejudices of the time and place of their composition as of the putative subject.
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05/16/2012 page 296
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message 2: by Edward (new)

Edward Did you mean Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL? Caro's books have been on my to-read list for awhile. To compare him with Foote's civil war trilogy is high praise, so I'll move him up my list.


Ed Edward wrote: "Did you mean Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL? Caro's books have been on my to-read list for awhile. To compare him with Foote's civil war trilogy is high praise, so I'll move him up my list."

Oops! That's what comes from typing without thinking. It should be "Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Macauly's History of England from the Accession of James II. Thanks for pointing out my conflation of the two.

I like long, detailed (even if the details aren't always accurate) narrative history that covers significant time and space. Caro's style is an acquired taste--there are some hilarious parodies of it--and I acquired it very quickly.


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