. Overall, “Means of Ascent” is a commendable successor to “The Path to Power” though not quite its equal. A devastating study that warrants the broadest readership. Johnson poured a record amount of money into the race and used the media of the day extensively. Caro burns into the reader’s imagination the story of the [1948 Senate] election. He has become, in many ways, the standard by which his fellows are measured. . Click on a plot link to find similar books. Means of Ascent is my favorite of the series. Paul Star Tribune, “A great book, and I believe the completed biography will be the great book about American politics in the twentieth century. “Means of Ascent is a political biography, a detective story, a western and a character study. . . . Caro is that rare biographer who seems intrigued by his subject but happily free from the urge to either heroicize, psychologize—or excoriate and punish.” —Francine Prose, 7 Days Yet for all he accomplished throughout his lifetime, his peers did not trust him. This book is probably the least substantial of his LBJ books, yet its in-depth account of a crooked regional election is utterly fascinating stuff – reportorial history at it absolute best. — 20,087 pages. Epic.” —Mark Feeney, Boston Sunday Globe, “Immensely engrossing . Telling that epic story “in riveting and eye-opening detail,” Caro returns to the American consciousness a magnificent lost hero. “Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson” is the second volume in Robert Caro’s series covering the life of Lyndon B. Johnson. In short, naval service was a box for Johnson to check off as a part of his career plan. SomeBookBlog!!! It was the start of a broadcast empire that would make Johnson a multi-millionaire. Caro is currently working on the fifth (and, presumably, final) volume in his LBJ series. © 2012-2020 Stephen Floyd and Thanks for your note – I couldn’t help myself and got up early this morning to get Volume 3 underway . No brief review does justice to the drama of the story Caro is telling, which is nothing less than how present-day politics was born.” —Henry F. Graff, Professor of History, Columbia University, “Caro has a unique place among American political biographers. Oral testimony solicited decades after an event is regularly used to condemn Johnson, but I cannot remember a single instance of testimony being used in his defense. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Winner of the Washington Monthly Best It often resembles a skilled prosecutor’s most zealous and unrelenting case against LBJ’s (admittedly numerous and disturbing) personality defects. Here, Johnson’s almost mythic personality—part genius, part behemoth, at once hotly emotional and icily calculating—is seen at its most nakedly ambitious. Caro is an incredible writer and he can make even the most banal topics fascinating (eg., much of The Power Broker). — 240 presidential bios And if Johnson is – in the eyes of some – this volume’s controversial antagonist, Stevenson is its strangely flawless luminary. . . “Means of Ascent is a political biography, a detective story, a western and a character study. I’m getting started on Volume 3 tonight – I can’t wait to see what Caro has in store for the next 1,040 pages! But this biography also possesses its share of blemishes. The third sentence in this book, for instance, contains 124 words and more than a dozen commas, colons and semicolons. It’s a beautiful home they have! — 20 “other” biographies Caro’s diligence [and] ambition are phenomenal . PART I: TOO SLOW Chapter 1: Going Back After his defeat in his 1941 race for the Senate, Johnson returned to Washington. Having immersed himself in Johnson’s life and world, Caro is able to reveal the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, for years shrouded in rumor, which Johnson was not believed capable of winning, which he “had to” win or face certain political death, and which he did win-by 87 votes, the “87 votes that changed history.”. Devastatingly persuasive . When America enters World War II, Johnson is eager to show the home folks that he is a patriotic American anxious to serve his country. It’s a testament to Robert Caro’s skill that we find it so difficult to get a firm moral fix on Johnson. Johnson and Stevenson waged a pitched battle for the Democratic nomination, which was the only election that mattered in that one party state. Also familiar: his use of captivating mini-biographies to introduce important supporting characters. He always claimed that it was Lady Bird's business. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Great review. Although, I have to say Levi Morton may have overtaken Chester Arthur for the best facial hair. And in the process of highlighting the darkest threads of Johnson’s character during his 1948 Senate bid, Caro elevates Coke Stevenson to lofty heights which most Texas historians probably wouldn’t recognize. oneobservatorycircle.com for the info. Readers are in for a white-knuckle, hair-raising tale that could have ended in any of a dozen ways, with L.B.J. Published in 1990, “Means of Ascent” covers seven difficult years of LBJ’s life – from shortly after his 1941 loss in a special election for the U.S. Senate (while a congressman) to his controversial 1948 Senate victory over former Texas governor Coke Stevenson. This is followed by LBJ’s purchase of a Texas radio station which eventually proved no less contentious. — 11 follow-up presidential bios & Riveting drama.” —Jim Finley, Los Angeles Times, “The most compelling study of American political power and corruption since Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men . This is good history. In Means of Ascent, Book Two of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro brings alive Lyndon Johnson in his wilderness years. Despite being an integral part of a much larger series, “Means of Ascent” is designed to be a standalone volume. He has produced a portrait not only of Lyndon Johnson, but also of the politics and values of mid-century America.” —Philip Seib, Dallas Morning News, “Robert Caro gives us an LBJ who was human and then some, and what’s enthralling is how this lucid, fascinating book keeps forcing us to confront the extreme contradictions of what (on good days) we call human nature. It’s fascinating to watch VPs transition to being President (LBJ and TR come to mind for me immediately). The most important of these introductions is aimed at Coke Stevenson (Johnson’s primary opponent in his 1948 Senate bid) who receives an entire chapter – much like Sam Rayburn in the previous volume. The Stevenson camp was convinced that Johnson had stolen the election, which was confirmed by Caro in this book in an interview with an associate of Boss George Parr. Johnson has no intention of putting his political career on hold, so he uses his ties to Speaker Sam Rayburn and President Roosevelt to help initiate a policy whereby members of Congress are declared vital to the war effort. . Master of the Senate is fantastic, and really the highlight of the LBJ books, although Passage of Power is a strong entry as well. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. It’s not the most politically insightful of them, but its portrayal of the senate race is the most fascinating thing I’ve read in any biography. . . . “Means of Ascent is a political biography, a detective story, a western and a character study. Bestpresidentialbios.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. The race ended in a virtual tie and Stevenson demanded and received a recount. . Thunder and lightning rip through Mr. Caro’s viscerally compelling work.” —Thomas W. Hazlett, The Wall Street Journal, “A brilliant but disturbing book . 3 isn’t your favorite. . He reminds us that Americans need to be vigilant in upholding their highest standards of ethics and good government.” —Guy Halverson, The Chistian Science Monitor, “His research is dazzlingly exhaustive, his gripping story is enhanced by excellent writing, and his findings [seem] largely irrefutable. in the White House the longest shot of all. And ultimately, as the political duel between the two men quickens—carrying with it all the confrontational and moral drama of the perfect Western—Caro makes us witness to a momentous turning point in American politics: the tragic last stand of the old politics versus the new—the politics of issue versus the politics of image, mass manipulation, money and electronic dazzle. Here’s hoping the last book is finished soon-ish. Caro has at last set the record straight.” —Richard Marius, Harvard Magazine, “Extraordinary and brilliant . Most importantly, however, “Means of Ascent” leaves the reader deeply embedded in Johnson’s life, fully engrossed in Caro’s series and eager to tackle the next volume. As a popular Speaker of the House and Governor, he was a formidable opponent. Caro repeats enough of the first volume’s highlights in early chapters that a reader could begin the series here without missing important themes. . ( Log Out / It’s really a look into something we don’t see often. ( Log Out / This second book, Means of Ascent, deals almost exclusively with his Senate campaign in 1948. Above all, it is a richly textured, multilayered chronicle of a fundamental social and political change and how this change highlighted elements of Mr. Johnson’s character: his powerful needs, tremendous ambition and particular genius.” —Robert A. Kronley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — 123,546 pages, Mar 2019 – Hence with his LBJ books, where Caro’s accounts of life in the Texas Hill Country, election-time sausage making and the verities of the Senate are equally compelling, let alone his towering, compellingly flawed subject. Individual sentences often read as though they were authored by Charles Dickens…but with even more punch. Caro also continuously provides the reader with enough context, perspective and imagery that it is difficult to read this text and not imagine being at the scene of nearly every moment he describes. . Reblogged this on Practically Historical. But there are others who also receive interesting, if less extensive, treatment such as George Parr and Frank Hamer. Also feel Caro is appropriately harsh on LBJ; for me, LBJ is a fascinating subject. Caro often (but not always) provides convincing evidence to support his portrayal of LBJ, but he frequently fails to include evidence that could soften the sharp edges of that portrait. . There were allegations of widespread fraud and ballot box tampering in South Texas in areas dominated by bosses who controlled Hispanic votes. . *stay* this good…..I found vol 4 a bit of a disappointment compared to vol 1-3. Caro’s writing style in this volume is strikingly similar to his prose of the first volume: it is neither elegant nor flowery, but is packed with intensity and a clever, if slightly unwieldy, bent. . Of the series, I probably liked the most recent volume the least, mostly because it covers already very well-trod territory, but even that one is well-written enough that I don’t mind it. Strange to think that if McKinley hadn’t been assassinated, for instance, we would hardly have known of Teddy Roosevelt. Johnson and wife Lady Bird purchase a radio station in Austin, which is now known as KLBJ. No one has done a better job of researching [the 1948 race] than Mr. Caro. I do sincerely wish Caro could research & write about 10x faster – there is so much interesting history that has yet to be adequately covered, uncovered, and communicated fluently and cogently…. It is nothing less than a political epic, the definitive account of a watershed election, rich with all of the intrigue and drama that have become the stuff of legend.
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