I’m halfway through the first of Robert Caro’s five-part biography about Lyndon Baines Johnson and can’t get through it fast enough, (the fifth of which has yet to be published). Robert A. Caro (above, who one the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his book about Robert Moses called the Power Broker) researched and wrote a stunningly thorough biography. America’s 36th president was responsible for some of the greatest advancements in American history like the passage of civil rights laws as well as some of the most tragic, like the escalation of the Vietnam War. The books, called The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, Master of the Senate and The Passage of Power (to be released in May, while the fifth is yet to be named) explore the life, psyche, and calculated dealings of a complicated and fascinating president. The books start long before the birth of LBJ, following his ancestors through Texas hill country and the fourth ends somewhere after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while the fifth will go presumably to the end of his life. Caro moved to Texas amd D.C. to interview what seems like every person Johnson ever met, and repeatedly. What is revealed to us is a calculating man, hungry for power and insecure in his own skin, who accomplished super human changes to U.S. laws.
I’m pleased that the books are so thick and that there will be 5 because one of the most tragic things about a good book is when they are over. The actual books will come with friends who are visiting since I want them to be added to our library and until then I’m reading them on my iPad. If only every president could have such a thorough biographer as Mr. Caro. If you’re interested, read an excerpt of The Passage of Power over at the New Yorker about what happened the day Kennedy was assassinated, and I guarantee you’ll be addicted.
p.s. They also added links to excerpts from his previous LBJ books as well as excerpts from his book on Robert Moses here