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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Years of Lyndon Johnson is a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson by the  writer Robert Caro. Four volumes have been published, running to more than 3,000 pages in total, detailing Johnson's early life, education, and political career. A fifth volume will deal with the bulk of Johnson's presidency.

I just finished  the  fourth volume, in The Passage of Power, Caro covers Johnson's life from 1958 to 1964, the challenges Johnson faced upon his assumption of the presidency, and the magnitude of his accomplishments in the months after Kennedy’s assassination. 
Essentially Caro looks at  the acquisition and use of political power in American democracy, from the perspective both of those who wield it and those who are at its mercy. In an interview with Kurt Vonnegut, he once said: "I was never interested in writing biography just to show the life of a great man," saying he wanted instead "to use biography as a means of illuminating the times and the great forces that shape the times—particularly political power."  I think he accomplished the tast he set out of himself.  Caro, perhaps the premier writer of political biography ever has surely acommplished the task he set out for himself. I would desribe his work as "monumental."


Ms Sparrow said...

It seems incredible that there could be five volumes written about Lyndon Johnson, so it makes sense that it would also be about the era in which he lived. It certainly was a very interesting era!

NCmountainwoman said...

Monumental indeed. Part of me thinks we need to go back to those days of political power. What we have now surely isn't working.

Montanagirl said...

I agree with NCmountainwoman. What we have now could use a lot of improvement!

Anvilcloud said...

All anyone ever anted to know about LBJ ... and more.

amanda said...

I really gained an interest in LBJ when we toured his ranch in Texas last month.
I hope to put a post together on that soon, the ranch is quite a display of his life, from birth place, to Airforce "One Half" to the resting place of President & First Lady Johnson.
Thanks for the book review - I may have to check this out!

EcoRover said...

Wow. That's an amazingly in-depth bio. Certainly demands a lot of readers, though LBJ was one interesting dude, and his life & times are a great way to view America during that era.