Brian Cole's Reviews > The Passage of Power

The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro
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's review
Jun 07, 2012

really liked it

I gew up during this time and I was aware of some of it. Some of it was a mystery until now. In this very detailed account, I learned about LBJ's on again off again run for the Presidency in 1960 and why is was mostly hiddened. I learned why JFK picked LBJ for VP and the almost humerous attempt of RFK to get him to reconsider. This is one of the two occasions when Caro couldn't figure out exactly what happened. So close and yet still he is unsure. In Caro's presentation, JFK couldn't have won without LBJ's campaigning for him in the South. So why did JFK dismiss his call? Why couldn't LBJ get a foothold in JFK's presidency? Was JFK going to drop LBJ for his second term? Would LBJ have become too scandal ridden? Brilliant views of JFK and RFK. Reading about the RFK and LBJ feud I wanted to shake them both by the scruff of the neck. Why couldn't RFK been more aware of LBJ's growing up poor--his feel for the downtrodden? Caro presents a balanced picture. LBJ had such great abilities--taking control after the assassination; his concern for John John and Caroline; desegregating that club; knowing how to read men. Then there was his not quite so blind trust; his use of federal agencies to "persuade" people; his demeaning of his aides. It causes me to rethink the notion that Nixon was just one who got caught.
I strongly believe that Kennedy's civil rights bill wouldn't have passed unless Johnson had powered it through. Why would you not have used the Leader of the Senate to help your legislation? It makes me appreciate those leaders who don't care who gets the credit as long as the good gets done. I remember how the Bobby Baker investigation was on TV. Surely LBJ would have been instrumental in trying to keep himself out of the picture yet Caro doesn't say a word about it. Excellent book with only a few detractions.

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