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Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 3

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The Tour de Force continues

LBJ- is the noble and motivated president who gave birth to the Great Society and the resultant culture that blossomed into our world today. The pivotal legislation of the 1957 Civil Rights act and the disability Programs that still define all that is good in our nation...
LBJ- is the noble and motivated president who gave birth to the Great Society and the resultant culture that blossomed into our world today. The pivotal legislation of the 1957 Civil Rights act and the disability Programs that still define all that is good in our nation today, is brought to life with a fresh breath of air by Robert A. Caro for a provocative reassessment of the greatest president of the last century. Caro brings the reader to live in the senate the years leading up to LBJ's tenure allowing us a glimpse of what it must have felt for the ambitious LBJ entering this unknown world. In fact, the greatest asset of this wonderful publication is the fact that we can understand the complexity of LBJ¿s gregarious personality as if he were sitting and conversing in the same room as you. However, if you think that Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh are actual news programs, most likely the ability to comprehend the positive impact that men and women of this generation gave to our nation as expressed through the contributions of their president will be less than understandable. For them perhaps the grass is greener in the 'Hooverville' of Goldwater¿s nascent dreams.

posted by Anonymous on May 3, 2002

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A tough slog, but worth it

Caro clearly knows everything there is to know about Johnson. And he eventually gets around to laying it out. But his tendency to digress seems to be getting much worse than it was in the first two installmennts. Most of the digressions are generally interesting, but...
Caro clearly knows everything there is to know about Johnson. And he eventually gets around to laying it out. But his tendency to digress seems to be getting much worse than it was in the first two installmennts. Most of the digressions are generally interesting, but almost all of them seem to go on forever. You want to grab him by the collar and shout "Get too the point!" That urge is even stronger when he lapses into one of his interminable sentences -- you often need a roadmap to connect the opening and closing ideas.

posted by Rufus_J_Firefly on May 31, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    Long Live Robert Caro

    The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 3: Master of the Senate by Robert A.Caro (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) A Review by Chris Forse Imagine a political biography in three parts, the third of which appears twelve years after the second and the second eight years after the first. The three volumes represent thirty years of endeavour by its author. Its subject is an unlovely and unloved former President of the United States. The third volume of nearly 1100 pages, covering a 12 year period, far from completing his life story, does not even take us to his election to the (ostensibly) two most powerful positions in the United States ¿ the Vice Presidency and the Presidency. And this trilogy is no labour of love. It is not even a `warts and all¿ biography, rather it is all warts. The subject is Lyndon Baines Johnson (aka LBJ), the 36th US President. The third volume of Robert A Caro¿s triptych The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Master of the Senate, covers his years in the US Senate from 1948-60. Having been entirely captivated by the first two volumes The Path to Power (1982) and Means of Ascent (1990) I did despair of ever seeing a final product. The arrival of the massive third (but not final) volume, being a study of the workings of the US Senate, hardly stimulated a desire to return to a long-abandoned pursuit. But a reading of its first twenty pages changed all that. For here he was again, in all his volcanic, profane, ruthless, driven, hyper-sensitive nakedness: urinating in the senate car-park, defecating while dictating memos to his secretary, molesting a female passenger while driving his car (with his wife), and handing out the `treatment¿: bullying, cajoling, charming his senatorial colleagues in pursuit of this or that cherished goal. Johnson not so much lives in these pages, he threatens to leap out, grab you by the lapels and envelope you in a fraternal embrace. Few political biographies have been so lauded and yet so damned by the critics in academia and the media, as Caro¿s first two volumes. To some he sets standards against which all future political biographies should be measured. To others he is a just a muck-raker, whose overt hatred of his subject, disqualifies him from serious consideration as a writer of History. Few, however, dismiss his quite awesome research and the vivacity and passion of his writing. I veer to the former view, for despite the obvious relish with which Caro exposes the inconsistencies of this elemental figure, there remains both compassionate for the man, and deep respect for his achievements. He is, in this third volume, the greatest US Senator of the last century, a genius no less. He was the man who, by dint of will, transformed a genteel (and reactionary) debating chamber into a great engine of legislation and reform. A man who quite literally stole his election to the Senate in 1948, and ingratiated himself with the southern racists who regarded the Senate as a dam resisting any attempt to bring the fruits of liberty and equality to the nation¿s 18 million black people, and yet became the engineer of the first Civil Rights Act in 75 years. Along the way he destroyed a great liberal public servant by smearing him as a communist even before McCarthy¿s emergence, `lobbied¿ on behalf of Texas oil barons with envelopes stuffed with hundred dollar bills, while breaking successively the `rule¿ of seniority that reserved key committee chairs for the most reactionary and racist members of the Senate, and the power of the filibuster which made any serious consideration of reform impossible. What drove him was an unparalleled determination, present since his youth, to be the first southerner elected to the office of the presidency since the civil war. His will was seared in the barren Hill Country of West Texas, in indescribable poverty (brilliantly evoked in a Steinbeckian chapter entitled The Sad Irons in volume one), and in the humiliations inflicted upon his father, a s

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2002

    The Tour de Force continues

    LBJ- is the noble and motivated president who gave birth to the Great Society and the resultant culture that blossomed into our world today. The pivotal legislation of the 1957 Civil Rights act and the disability Programs that still define all that is good in our nation today, is brought to life with a fresh breath of air by Robert A. Caro for a provocative reassessment of the greatest president of the last century. Caro brings the reader to live in the senate the years leading up to LBJ's tenure allowing us a glimpse of what it must have felt for the ambitious LBJ entering this unknown world. In fact, the greatest asset of this wonderful publication is the fact that we can understand the complexity of LBJ¿s gregarious personality as if he were sitting and conversing in the same room as you. However, if you think that Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh are actual news programs, most likely the ability to comprehend the positive impact that men and women of this generation gave to our nation as expressed through the contributions of their president will be less than understandable. For them perhaps the grass is greener in the 'Hooverville' of Goldwater¿s nascent dreams.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2012

    A tough slog, but worth it

    Caro clearly knows everything there is to know about Johnson. And he eventually gets around to laying it out. But his tendency to digress seems to be getting much worse than it was in the first two installmennts. Most of the digressions are generally interesting, but almost all of them seem to go on forever. You want to grab him by the collar and shout "Get too the point!" That urge is even stronger when he lapses into one of his interminable sentences -- you often need a roadmap to connect the opening and closing ideas.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A sweeping account of one of the most interesting people in 20th century politics.

    Robert Caro has done it again with his latest addition to the Years of Lyndon Johnson Series. The amount of research put into even the most minute details of the senate experience come through in the account of Johnson's time as the youngest ever Majority Leader of the Senate. The attention spent on explaining the parliamentary maneuvers involved in the 1957 Civil Rights Act getting passed make the book more than just a biography about Lyndon Johnson. There is also a view of Lyndon Johnson and how he dealt with issues of the time.
    Caro portrays Johnson in a very even manner. While the power Johnson had over the Senate was unrivaled by anyone previously, we see from Caro's account that Johnson also played the political game like no one else had in history.
    The book is superbly written and even something that might seem as boring as the parliamentary procedure of the Senate comes alive with Caro's gift as a biographer. Many events of Johnson's career that do not play a significant role in how he is remembered (The Leland Olds Renomination hearing) are described in microscopic detail. If you are a reader at all interested in politics, civil rights, senate history, political science, works of great biography, or Lyndon Johnson then this book will be a treat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Gold Standard of American Biographical, Political, and Historical Research

    It was supposed to take me 10-14 days to read this book, instead it took me about 22-25 days to complete.

    The story continues with Lyndon Johnson's rise to power starting in 1949 when Johnson becomes a senator.

    Throughout his years in the senate, as the political genius Robert Caro claims him to be, he becomes the youngest Minority Leader and also became the youngest Majority Leader. In the process of doing so, he needed to get respect from southern senators and some of his supporters that were oil and natural gas barons. This required him to destroy Leland Olds' reputation which was I personally was quite disgusted with.

    But by becoming the Senate Majority Leader, Johnson was able to penetrate through what Robert Caro describes as an impenetrable dam to help pass--for the first time in 82 years--a civil rights bill.

    Moreover, when reading about the Civil Rights Bill of 1957's passage, Robert Caro vividly describes through meticulous research how Johnson was able to get the necessary votes so that it realistically could pass. The book was vivid in the sense that the endpapers of the hardcover version have pictures of what the senate chamber looks like currently (front) and what it used to look like in 1810-1859 (back). The endpapers helped me picture in my mind what was going on as in the book the author describes senators and where they were sitting or standing and what they were saying.

    Robert Caro rightfully deserved the Pulitzer Prize for this book because he used an exponential amount of research for this book and the amount of research is evident throughout the book because of the amount of detail.

    Expect to have an increased vocabulary knowledge base. As with the other volumes, you will need a dictionary. I recorded that in my journey of reading through "Master of the Senate," 613 words which include: general grammar terms, people, architectural terms, theatrical plays, laws, events, books, political terms, and terms regarding parliamentary procedure will need to be reviewed in a dictionary or looked up on the internet because I am unfamiliar with such terms.

    Expect to have a better understanding of Representatives and Senators in regards to how long their terms last and what authority has been vested to them by the constitution.

    The analogy of the senate being an impenetrable dam is important to understand, it is very relevant and will be explained throughout the book as the bigger picture.

    Expect to dedicate many hours to this book.

    Make room on your bookshelf for this book!

    Interesting facts:
    The author reviewed through 1,665,000 documents that consisted of: newspaper clippings, transcripts, office documents, and other forms of documentation. About 240 books were cited in the bibliography and the author conducted 263 interviews for this book. All this information in in the Debts and Note on Sources section.

    Democratic Senators were reading this book trying to figure out how to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    The Ultra left diatribe is simply unreadable. This is not the us

    The Ultra left diatribe is simply unreadable. This is not the usual Noble Prize review of the life of a "great" world figure. Instead the author meanders page after page after chapter extolling the virtues of Liberal thought without any effort at analysis or historical background. Throughout the first 300 pages no mention exists of Lyndon Johnson childhood or early life. Two thumbs down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Years ago I devoured David McCullough's superb biography of Harr

    Years ago I devoured David McCullough's superb biography of Harry Truman, and ever since have held it in the highest esteem as the best book I have ever read.

    Well, make room at the top for Robert Caro’s third volume on the years of Lyndon Johnson. Caro tells his story like no one else. Like its two predecessors (The Path to Power [#1] and Means of Ascent [#2]), “Master of the Senate” [#3] is meticulously researched and documented. But more skillfully than ever before, Caro now takes a quantum leap forward as a writer and historian in this massive work. The first hundred pages is perhaps the best history of the United States Senate ever written.

    Robert Caro has spent his lifetime writing just 5 books – four of which are about this man who raises himself up from his humble beginnings in the hill country of Texas to lead the country through a watershed period of time in history.

    Don’t be put off by the massiveness of this historic biography. You’ll find that Caro’s style of writing will be as compellingly written as any novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    Great Biography of LBJ

    Years of Lyindon Johnson is more than a biography of one man These books describe the political history of the United States All four volumes deserve a five star rating

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Surpasses the "Power Broker"

    If, like me, you thought that Caro's biography of Robert Moses (which also won the Pulitzer) was the ultimate in research, exposition and analysis of how the political world worked in NYC for a forty year period in the mid-20th century, this biography of Lyndon Johnson'e rise to power in the US Senate is even a greater achievement. The book offers a complete and supremely engrossing historical narrative of a consummate politician operating within the netherworld of what we like to think of as a "deliberative" body, the US Senate. As Caro very entertainingly informs us, decisions are made within that august body based on many rationales, but very few are made on principles of equity, rightuosness or altruism. Pure self-interest was, and remains, the guiding principle of our elected senatorial representatives, and Caro shows us that, in spades.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    Robert Caro - A great historian

    Caro brilliantly develops his theme - that johnson was a master politics and power. He masterfully demonstrares that everyhing that Johnson did in the senate was graed towards his single - minded goal of amassing power, and 1 day, utilizing that power to become president.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2006

    Caro's LBJ Masterpiece Continues

    Stunning yet again. Caro proves he has no equal in writing political biography with a distinctly human feel, even if his subject often lacked any human feelings. Here is LBJ at his peak - controlling an entity he adored, bullying everyone below him while kissing the butt of the powers-that-be, manipulating and outthinking his opponents. LBJ seems flawless in his ability to read and master situations - until the disastrous 1956 presidential campaign. Then again, in true LBJ fashion, he learns his lessons and turns defeat into a victory, though that story is for Volume 4 which is anxiously awaited.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2005

    Very Impressive biography

    I have read other biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson for quite some time now. But Robert A.Caro gives a really impressive account of Johnson in his years in the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate. It Shows how he tried to pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1957 while trying to keep his Promise to Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-Ga) and the Other Southern Senators. This book definitely deserves 5 Stars

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2004

    Master of the Political Biography

    Absolutely brilliant! Master of the Senate is one of the best political biographies I have ever read. Lyndon Johnson comes alive as the great Senate leader and this book sets the tone necessary for understanding the man and his presidency. Robert Caro is the Master of the American political biography.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2003

    LBJ: nothing more than a bully

    Excellent work showing how disgusting LBJ really was. Should be required reading for all of those in public service on how NOT to be. It is somewhat repetitive, and could have been 20% shorter, but a masterpiece anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    don't wear socks - they'll be blown off

    should be required reading of everyone who registers to vote. a narcotic combination of journalism and literature. Caro's deft touch in portraying the women characters is especially good. did you love L.B.J.? hate him? too young to have an opinion? read this book in any case....read the other two first. the senate history section is excellent but lags a bit - scanning may be needed.

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    Posted June 17, 2010

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    Posted June 3, 2012

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    Posted May 7, 2012

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    Posted September 28, 2009

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    Posted June 29, 2013

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