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The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1
     

The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1

4.3 32
by Robert A. Caro
 

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This is the story of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country. The Path to Power reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and ambition that set LBJ apart. It follows him from the Hill Country to New Deal Washington, from his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut

Overview

This is the story of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country. The Path to Power reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and ambition that set LBJ apart. It follows him from the Hill Country to New Deal Washington, from his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut as Congressman, his heartbreaking defeat in his first race for the Senate, and his attainment, nonetheless, at age 31, of the national power for which he hungered. In this book, we are brought as close as we have ever been to a true perception of political genius and the American political process.

Means of Ascent, Book Two of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, was a number one national best seller and, like The Path to Power, received the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

"Proof that we live in a great age of biography . . . [a book] of radiant excellence . . . Caro's evocation of the Texas Hill Country, his elaboration of Johnson's unsleeping ambition, his understanding of how politics actually works are---let it be said flat out---at the summit of American historical writing." --Washington Post

"A monumental political saga . . . powerful and stirring. It's an overwhelming experience to read The Path to Power." --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

"Not only a historical but a literary event. An epic biography . . . A sweeping, richly detailed portrait . . . vivid [with] Caro's astonishing concern for the humanity of his characters. An awesome achievement." --Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek

"Stands at the pinnacle of the biographical art." --Donald R. Morris, Houston Post

"The major biography of recent years. Brilliant . . . Magisterial . . . Caro has given us an American life of compelling fascination. A benchmark beside which other biographies will be measured for some time to come." --Alden Whitman, Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"An ineradicable likeness of an American giant. Caro has brought to life a young man so believable and unforgettable that we can hear his heartbeat and touch him." --Henry F. Graff, Professor of History, Columbia University

" Epic. A brief review cannot convey the depth, range and detail of this fascinating story. Caro is a meticulous historian.  Every page reflects his herculean efforts to break through the banalities and the falsehoods previously woven around the life of Lyndon Johnson . . . combines the social scientist's interest in power with the historian's concern with theme and context, the political scientist's interest in system, and the novelist's passion to reveal the inner workings of the personality and relate them to great human issues . . . A monument of interpretive biography." --Michael R. Beschloss, Chicago Sun-Times Book Week

"Splendid and moving. At this rate Caro's work will eventually acquire Gibbon-like dimensions, and Gibbon-like passion. . . . Caro is a phenomenon . . . an artful writer, with a remarkable power to evoke and characterize politicians, landscapes, relationships. This massive book is almost continually exciting." --Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"By every measure---depth of research, brilliance of conception, the seamless flow of the prose---it is a masterpiece of biography." --Dan Cryer, Newsday

"Extraordinary. A powerful, absorbing, at times awe-inspiring, and often deeply alarming story. A vivid picture of the emergence of one of this century's authentically great politicians." --Alan Brinkley, Boston Sunday Globe

"The book races at Johnson's own whirlwind pace. A tour de force that blends relentless detective work, polemical vigor and artful storytelling into the most compelling narrative of American political life since All the King's Men." --Henry Mayer, San Francisco Chronicle

"A landmark in American political biography. The definitive life of LBJ. Caro has written a Johnson biography that is richer and fuller and may well be one of the freshest and most revealing studies ever written about a major historical figure." --Steve Neal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"A masterful narrative on a grand scale, a fascinating portrait of LBJ's activities set against a fully drawn canvas of life in the Texas hill country. By far the most significant Johnson book to appear." --Library Journal

"No mere political biography. Caro is on the way to becoming our finest fine-tooth-comb historian." --Jack Goodman, Salt Lake Tribune

"Magnificent. For understanding our recent past and the men and policies that brought the country to its present condition and aimed us toward whatever our future is to be, it's an immensely important work." --Bryan Woolley, Dallas Times Herald

"A brilliant and necessary book. There are whole and fascinating areas in Johnson's life that no one else discovered." --Merle Miller, front page, Chicago Tribune Book World

"This is a watershed book. Caro writes with sweek and passion. From the first sentence I was hooked. All other biographies of Johnson pale in comparison." -- Joseph P. Lash

"Engrossing and revealing. This fascinating, immensely long and highly readable book is the fullest account we have--and are ever likely to have--of the early years of LBJ." --David Herbert Donald, front page, NY Times Book Review

"A superb and unique biography...Meticulous in research, grand in scale, this is a major work that will remain a tower of its kind."-- Barbara Tuchman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679729457
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1990
Series:
Years of Lyndon Johnson Series , #1
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
960
Sales rank:
63,096
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.16(h) x 1.55(d)
Age Range:
15 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

For his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, has three times won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has also won virtually every other major literary honor, including the National Book Award, the Gold Medal in Biography from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians to the book that best “exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist.” In 2010 President Barack Obama awarded Caro the National Humanities Medal, stating at the time: “I think about Robert Caro and reading The Power Brokerback when I was twenty-two years old and just being mesmerized, and I’m sure it helped to shape how I think about politics.” The London Sunday Times has said that Caro is “The greatest political biographer of our times.”  
 
Caro’s first book, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, everywhere acclaimed as a modern classic, was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the hundred greatest nonfiction books of the twentieth century. It is, according to David Halberstam, “Surely the greatest book ever written about a city.” And The New York Times Book Review said: “In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort.” 

The first volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, The Path to Power, was cited by The Washington Post as “proof that we live in a great age of biography . . . [a book] of radiant excellence . . . Caro’s evocation of the Texas Hill Country, his elaboration of Johnson’s unsleeping ambition, his understanding of how politics actually work, are—let it be said flat out—at the summit of American historical writing.” Professor Henry F. Graff of Columbia University called the second volume, Means of Ascent, “brilliant. No review does justice to the drama of the story Caro is telling, which is nothing less than how present-day politics was born.” The London Times hailed volume three, Master of the Senate, as “a masterpiece . . . Robert Caro has written one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age.” The Passage of Power, volume four, has been called “Shakespearean . . . A breathtakingly dramatic story [told] with consummate artistry and ardor” (The New York Times) and “as absorbing as a political thriller . . . By writing the best presidential biography the country has ever seen, Caro has forever changed the way we think about, and read, American history” (NPR). On the cover of The New York Times Book Review, President Bill Clinton praised it as “Brilliant . . . Important . . . Remarkable. With this fascinating and meticulous account Robert Caro has once again done America a great service.” 
 
“Caro has a unique place among American political biographers,” The Boston Globe said . . . “He has become, in many ways, the standard by which his fellows are measured.” And Nicholas von Hoffman wrote: “Caro has changed the art of political biography.”

Born and raised in New York City, Caro graduated from Princeton University, was later a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and worked for six years as an investigative reporter for Newsday. He lives in New York City with his wife, Ina, the historian and writer.
 

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 30, 1935
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
B.A., Princeton University, 1957; Nieman Fellow at Harvard University
Website:
http://www.robertacaro.com

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Path to Power 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
watkd25 More than 1 year ago
It took me twelve days to read the first out of soon to be five total volumes of Lyndon Johnson's rise to power. The author portrays Lyndon Johson, from the time he was a child, as a person who craves power and how he obtains it. He shows Lyndon as a person who slowly achieves what he has always wanted in the most amoral ways possible. Because of this book, not only is Robert Caro now my favorite book author, it has helped me completely understand the art of politics. Anyone interested in politics, history, or biographies should read this book. Now on to the second volume!
NewsieQ More than 1 year ago
After finishing the fourth (of an expected five) book of this mega-biography, I vowed I’d read the first three. (I don’t know why Johnson is so fascinating to me – I definitely wasn’t a fan.) The Path to Power covers Johnson’s early years – from his birth in 1908 through 1941,just after his loss in a race for a US Senate seat from Texas. The Path to Power also includes genealogical information on his mother’s side (Bunton) and his father’s. What Robert Caro doesn’t know about LBJ has to be negligible – he covers LBJ in such detail, that even voluminous biographies by other authors seems superficial after reading his. In addition to incredible biographical information, he provides the Big Picture: life in Texas hill country during LBJ’s formative years, the long-standing history of corruption in Texas politics, and what it was like to keep house before electricity. (That becomes particularly important to understand why Rural Electrification was such an important issue in the 1930s.) On one hand, LBJ is shown to be an organizational and political genius. On the other hand, he was a real SOB from an early age. In one chapter, I feel sorry for him and in another, I’d like to wring his skinny neck. Overall, however, this series of books by Mr. Caro provides a fascinating portrait of a man who sought and obtained power by whatever means necessary. I appreciate the author’s pressuring his interviewees for the real story of LBJ, not the good-ole-boy stories they apparently told previous biographers. I’m looking forward to reading #2 and#3 next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Why Lyndon Johnson was the way he was is neatly summed up in this excellent work by Robert Caro. Knowing that Johnson was a complex character, as well as a supreme political opportunist, we need to ask why. Caro provides the answer by pulling back the veil that covered the poverty and backwardness that was the Texas Hill Country of the first half of the twentieth century. Showing the poor little boy (who allowed school friends to 'pop' his ear lobes for a nickel) with dreams of greatness and his fathers reputation constantly in front of him to the manipulator of campus politics, the author illustrates the emergence of one of the greatest politicians in America. An excellent, highly engaging work. But one must stop there as other works in this excellent series are already available and should be read in as well.
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Robert Caro as good as there is
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This is likely the gold standard of biographies! Exhaustively researched using public and private documents, Caro adds extensive notes from his personal interviews with many of the people involved which adds a lot more color and flavor than raw documents can provide. Caro writes in a fashion that holds the readers interest but the writing is not always smooth. I sometimes found myself re-reading passages or sentences over and over to grasp the meaning. At over 900 pages excluding index, footnotes, and acknowledgements, this book is not for the faint of heart, but it's well worth the effort!
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