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Is Caro's "Years of Lyndon Johnson" the greatest American political biography?

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  • Cult Icon
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    Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964
    Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965

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  • Cult Icon
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    LBJ books that I acquired:

    -Companion to LBJ (Collection of academic essays on LBJ's presidency and its impact on the USA). Very useful.

    2 recent books, by the same historian:

    -Prisoners of Hope (About the Great Society)
    -LBJ, Architect of American ambition

    2-volume bio

    -Lone Star Rising
    -Flawed Giant

    LBJ and Congress

    -Guns and Butter

    -Memoir:

    Triumph and Tragedy
    Last edited by Cult Icon; 30 May 17, 11:32.

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  • Cult Icon
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    Finished Passage of Power!

    Very good book

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    I've concluded that Daleck's "Flawed Giant" is the most logical finishing read after "Passage of Power".

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  • Cult Icon
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    From Passage of Power;

    ""“Kennedy was pathetic as a congressman and as a senator,” Johnson was to say. “He didn’t know how to address the Chair.” He was, he said on another occasion, “a young whippersnapper, malaria-ridden and yellow, sickly, sickly. He never said a word of importance in the Senate, and he never did a thing.”"

    "as a senator, Lyndon Johnson said, Jack Kennedy was “weak and pallid—a scrawny man with a bad back, a weak and indecisive politician, a nice man, a gentle man, but not a man’s man.”"

    "As for Lyndon Johnson, his opinion was that the young senator from Massachusetts was a “playboy” and basically lazy. “He’s smart enough,” he told Bobby Baker at the time, “but he doesn’t like the grunt work.”"

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  • Cult Icon
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    - "Guns or Butter", a book about his presidency argues that LBJ was the most effective legislator in US history, followed closely by FDR. Filling up the big 3 is Woodrow Wilson.

    -"Johnson possessed a first-class mind, perhaps at the genius level. This
    included a phenomenal memory and a large vocabulary. George Reedy, who
    understood him very well, wrote, "The Johnson IQ took a back seat to
    very few others—perhaps even to none. His mind was magnificent—fast,
    penetrating, resourceful." Further, "he had the most superbly developed
    sense of timing in the whole history of American politics." He had an uncanny
    ability to foresee future events and their impact on particular senators.
    "He could predict votes other senators did not even know they were
    going to cast." White House aide Lee White stressed his "singlemindedness."
    "He keeps his eye on that damned bull's eye all the time." In
    the debate over the 1957 Civil Rights Act a question of great intricacy under
    the common law arose—the distinction between civil and criminal contempt.
    Johnson took a few law books home one evening and the next day,
    according to Dean Acheson, one of the nation's top lawyers who was helping
    Johnson with the amendments, was competent to argue the point before
    any court in the U.S. Intellectually, Acheson said, it was "awe-inspiring."
    When he became President, Johnson had virtually no understanding of the
    federal budget. After evening and weekend meetings with Kermit Gordon,
    his budget director, he attained mastery of the subject.

    But much of this intellectual power was piddled away. "He simply
    could not see a concept," Reedy wrote, "without an immediate pragmatic
    objective." Because of his marginal education and his refusal to read anything
    not directly related to his job, Johnson was unable to link his brilliance
    to a broad range of knowledge. Thus, he often perceived only half of
    a problem. Put another way, he was extremely bright but lacked wisdom"

    "He was obsessed with politics and cared about almost nothing else—
    literature, history, art, music, sports."

    "No other President except Nixon was so obsessed with secrecy. He did
    not want anyone to know what he was doing or intended to do until he
    alone made the announcement. He lectured, threatened, and berated his
    aides to protect his cocoon of secrecy. Yet he talked incessantly and was an
    incurable gossip. Smart reporters couk! sometimes figure out what he was
    going to do simply by studying what he said."

    "He was notorious for abusing his staff, for driving people to the verge of
    exhaustion—and sometimes over the verge; for paying the lowest salaries
    on Capitol Hill; for publicly humiliating his most loyal aides; for keeping
    his office in a constant state of turmoil by playing games with reigning
    male and female favorites. . . .
    His manners were atrocious—not just slovenly but frequently calculated
    to give offense. . . . He was a bully who would exercise merciless
    sarcasm on people who could not fight back but could only take it. Most
    important, he had no sense of loyalty. . . . To Johnson, loyalty was a oneway
    street; all take on his part and all give on the part of everyone else—
    his family, his friends, his supporters. . . .
    Occasionally he would demonstrate his gratitude for extraordinary
    services by a lavish gift—an expensive suit of clothes, an automobile, jewelry
    for the women on his staff. The gift was always followed by an outpouring
    of irrelevant abuse."

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  • Cult Icon
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    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
    Love Caro. Read Power Broker and each of the first four volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson multiple times. I've been on the edge of my seat for three years waiting for Volume V to come out. They should be categorized as essential for reading for the American citizen, 'cause clearly the high school civics curriculum ain't getting it done.
    The power broker is taught in uni urban studies programs. That's how I first heard of it.

    Caro, given the time gaps of his previous books...it could be years. Meanwhile I have acquired other texts to fill the gaps.

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  • slick_miester
    replied
    Love Caro. Read Power Broker and each of the first four volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson multiple times. I've been on the edge of my seat for three years waiting for Volume V to come out. They should be categorized as essential for reading for the American citizen, 'cause clearly the high school civics curriculum ain't getting it done.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cult Icon
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    Have you or anyone read other LBJ biographies? I am interested in the period after 1964.

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    Originally posted by ktnbs View Post
    Excellent. As I am "re-reading" the audible book version on long drives to work projects, I exposed my work partner (who can appreciate such books) who was only superficially aware of LBJ, and it's really blowing his mind. Next trip we will encounter the civil rights bill and the "horse trade" LBJ arranged with the western and southern senators. The "boy orator of the Snake River" cracks me up and kudos to Frank Church for realizing his being manipulated by Johnson afterwards.
    As a reward for his service, he is put into a subcommittee ahead about 9 more senior senators by Johnson in 1959.

    I have accumulated several pages of quotes from this book (and several pages on the Power broker, and means of ascent.)

    Perhaps later I will distill them into principles.

    I am reading Passage of power next.

    As far as Master of the Senate goes, I found the first act (of him rising to Senate Minority leader and learning about Senator Russell) and the final act (Civil Rights Act 1957) most enjoyable to read. This is not to knock on the other parts of the book, but these two parts are the most gripping to me.

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  • ktnbs
    replied
    Excellent. As I am "re-reading" the audible book version on long drives to work projects, I exposed my work partner (who can appreciate such books) who was only superficially aware of LBJ, and it's really blowing his mind. Next trip we will encounter the civil rights bill and the "horse trade" LBJ arranged with the western and southern senators. The "boy orator of the Snake River" cracks me up and kudos to Frank Church for realizing his being manipulated by Johnson afterwards.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cult Icon
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    I'm nearing the end of "Master of the Senate". Superb book, but an incredibly long read. It's as dense as the "power broker" and more dense than the previous two volumes.

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  • Cult Icon
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    Originally posted by ktnbs View Post
    Ironically, I am "rereading" Master of the Senate in audible that I first got several years back..So much that Caro weaves into the story that it is most satisfying to listen to again and narrator Grover Gardner is excellent.

    I find that every chapter of MOS has applications to office politics LOL

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  • ktnbs
    replied
    Ironically, I am "rereading" Master of the Senate in audible that I first got several years back..So much that Caro weaves into the story that it is most satisfying to listen to again and narrator Grover Gardner is excellent.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cult Icon
    replied
    I've halfway through "Master of the Senate" and I appreciate the detail that Caro provides in identifying the specifics of Johnson's tactics and operations.

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