Provides a perspective on Kennedy's assassination from Johnson's viewpoint, and penetrates deep into what it was like for him to assume a position of such power at a time of national crisis.
Hailed as 'the greatest biography of our era' (The Times) this is the fourth part of Robert Caro's multi-award-winning best-selling work on American President Lyndon Johnson.
The Passage of Power, 'the series' crowning volume' (Economist), spans the years 1958 to 1964, arguably the most crucial years in the life of Johnson and pivotal years for American history. This era saw some of the most frustrating moments of Johnson's career, but also some of his most triumphant. His battle with the Kennedy brothers over the 1960 Democratic nomination for president was a bitter one, and the ensuing years of Johnson's vice-presidency were marked with humiliation. But, thrust into power following the assassination of J. F. Kennedy, Johnson grasped the presidential role with unprecedented skill. Caro also provides a fresh perspective on Kennedy's assassination from Johnson's viewpoint, and penetrates deep into what it was like for him to assume a position of such power at a time of national crisis.
The Passage of Power documents Johnson's extraordinary early presidency, forcing previously abandoned bills on the budget and civil rights through an uncooperative Congress and striving to achieve what he saw to be the highest standard of office.
In The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Caro shows a delicacy of touch and a profoundness of insight into the state of a nation under the hand of a political master. Collectively these volumes constitute a major history of America in the first three-quarters of the twentieth century.
Robert A. Caro has been described as 'the greatest political biographer of our times' (Sunday Times) and 'the most revered historian of his generation' (New York Times). His first book, The Power Broker, published in 1974, was described in 2015 as 'one of the greatest non-fiction works ever written' (Sunday Times) and his ongoing multi-volume work The Years of Lyndon Johnson has been described as 'the greatest biography of our era' (The Times). With these books he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, twice won the National Book Award and three times won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has also been awarded virtually every other major literary honour, including the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, the highest award in the humanities given in the United States. Born in 1935, he graduated from Princeton University, later became a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and was an investigative reporter for Newsday for six years. He lives with his wife, the writer Ina Caro, in New York City, where he is at work on the fifth and final volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson.
The fourth volume of Caro's magisterial work spans the five years that end shortly after Kennedy's assassination, as Johnson prepares to push for a civil rights New York Times This pile-driving book has all the ingredients of a great drama, the humiliating childhood breeding a lifelong desire (to be president), the failure (to gain the Democratic nomination), the humiliation (almost constant, by J. F. Kennedy) the sudden change of fate (the assassination), and the vindication (when Johnson drives through key bills that Kennedy couldn't, and proves himself the most astute of politicians). Totally compelling Sunday Times Ireland A fascinating story, Shakespearean in its passion and fury, as well as darkly comical -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday It is a profound portrait of two men, Johnson and John F. Kennedy, and the relationship between them -- Sarah Stands Evening Standard The fourth installation of Caro's masterwork came out this year and, cheeringly, there is no slackening of plot or pace -- Kathryn Hughes Guardian A major work of history and biography -- Annie Proulx Guardian It is an extraordinary story of a deeply flawed character, told with such verve, such command of the facts, and such an understanding of power -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday This pile-driving book has all the ingredients of a great drama, the humiliating childhood breeding a lifelong desire (to be president), the failure (to gain the Democratic nomination), the humiliation (almost constant, by JF Kennedy) the sudden change of fate (the assassination), and the vindication (when Johnson drives through key bills that Kennedy couldn't, and proves himself the most astute of politicians). Totally compelling -- Biography of the year Sunday Times Ireland The series' crowning volume The Economist Brilliant... Riveting reading from beginning to end... The real tour de force in this stunning mix of political and psychological analysis comes in the account of the transition between administrations, from November 23 1963 to January 8, 1964... An utterly fascinating character study, brimming with delicious insider stories... Political wonks, of course, will dive into this book with unbridled passion, but its focus on a larger-than-life, flawed but fascinating individual - the kind of character who drives epic fiction - should extend its reach much, much further. Unquestionably, one of the truly big books of the year Booklist (Starred) A masterly how-to manual, showing Johnson's knowledge of governing, his peerless congressional maneuvering and effective deal-making. The Years of Lyndon Johnson is a compact library: brilliant biography, gripping history, searing political drama and an incomparable study of power. It's also a great read... And, after thousands of pages spent with Lyndon Johnson, one of Caro's singular achievements is that you want more -- Peter Gianotti Newsday A major event in biography, history, even publishing itself... Caro has once more combined prodigious research and a literary gift to mount a stage for his Shakespearean figures: LBJ, JFK, LBJ's nemesis Robert F. Kennedy Library Journal (Starred) The latest in what is almost without question the greatest political biography in modern times... Nobody goes deeper, works harder or produces more penetrating insights than [Caro] -- Patrick Beach Austin American-Statesman One of the greatest biographies in the history of American letters -- Bob Hoover Cleveland Plain Dealer A great and occasionally astonishing biography -- John R MacArthur Spectator This book shows the mastery of Johnson in politics, and also the mastery of Caro in biography -- David M. Shribman Bloomberg/BusinessWeek Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson is said to be on William Hague, George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt's summer reading list Guardian Political biography of the highest quality... An unmatched psychological portrait of Johnson as John F. Kennedy's assassination catapults him into the presidency -- Tony Barber Financial Times The fourth volume of one of the most anticipated English-language biographies of the past 30 years... A compelling narrative...that will thrill those who care about American politics, the foundations of power, or both Kirkus Reviews (starred review) A great work of history... A great biography... Caro has summoned Lyndon Johnson to vivid, intimate life Newsweek The years of Lyndon Johnson, when completed, will rank as America's most ambitiously conceived, assiduously researched and compulsively readable political biography... When Caro's fifth volume arrives, reader's gratitude will be exceeded only by their regret that there will not be a sixth -- George F. Will Caro has once again shown that he might well be the greatest presidential historian we've ever had... Although the amount of research Caro has done for these books is staggering, it's his immense talent as a writer that has made his biography of Johnson one of America's most amazing literary achievements... Caro's portrayal of the president is as scrupulously fair as it is passionate and deeply felt... The series is a masterpiece, unlike any other work of American history published in the past. It's true that there will never be another Lyndon B. Johnson, but there will never be another Robert A. Caro, either. By writing the best presidential biography the country has ever seen, he's forever changed the way we think, and read, American history -- Michael Schaub NPR Riveting... Shakespearean... It's a rollercoaster narrative as Johnson plummets from the powerful Senate majority leader post to vice-presidential irrelevance, hated and humiliated by the Kennedy brothers, then surges to presidential authority with the crack of Lee Harvey Oswald's rifle and forces a revolutionary civil rights act through a recalcitrant Congress... Caro's tormented, heroic Johnson makes an apt embodiment of an America struggling toward epochal change, one with a fascinating resonance in our era of gridlocked government Publisher's Weekly (starred review) It is the mismatch between Johnson's fate prior to the assassination and his fate in its aftermath that gives this book, the fourth volume of Caro's monumental biography, its compelling but also unfathomable flavor... Caro's account of the day of the assassination... is a magnificent piece of writing. What might have seemed familiar becomes startlingly fresh, because it is seen from the perspective of the man whose destiny suddenly came back into focus as the world of those around him was falling apart. -- David Runciman London Review of Books A breathtakingly dramatic story [told] with consummate artistry and ardor... It showcases Mr Caro's masterly gifts as a writer: his propulsive sense of narrative, his talent for enabling readers to see and feel history in the making and his ability to situate his subjects' actions within the context of their times... Taken together the installments of Mr Caro's monumental life of Johnson so far not only create a minutely detailed picture of an immensely complicated and conflicted individual, but they also form a revealing prism by which to view the better part of a century in description of Johnson - and those of John and Robert Kennedy - have novelistic depth and amplitude... Mr Caro uses his storytelling gifts to turn seemingly arcane legislative maneuvers into action-movie suspense, and he gives us unparalleled understanding...of how Johnson used a crisis and his own political acumen to implement his agenda with stunning speed... Engrossing -- Michiko Kakutani New York Times My book of the year, by a landslide majority... Caro marries profound psychological insight with a brilliant eye for the drama of the times -- Robert Harris Guardian An addictive read, written in glorious prose that suggests the world's most diligent beat reporter channeling William Faulkner. Passage is an essential document of a turning point in American history. It's also an incisive portrait of one great, terrible fascinating man suddenly given the chance to reinvent the country in his image -- Darren Franich Entertainment Weekly Riveting reading from beginning to end... The real tour de force in this stunning mix of political and psychological analysis comes in the account of the transition between administrations... An utterly fascinating character study, brimming with delicious insider stories... Unquestionably, one of the truly big books of the year Booklist (starred review) It is not often that I have muttered, "Astonishing", to myself as I close a book. But I see what people were on about now. Caro is a brilliant narrator of recent history... It is a work of greatness, of such acute observation of politics that its insights are applicable far beyond the time and place of the United States, 1960-64 -- John Rentoul Independent A tremendous story, bursting with colour and character...the sheer wealth of political details keeps you turning the pages...gargantuan but brilliant -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times Long live Robert Caro... Truly epic political history and character study... Riveting...it elevates Caro's tale to Shakespearean drama, as the coldhearted, Machiavellian maneuvering and hot-blooded rivalries of supremely ambitious men play out the fate of the free world at stake -- Dan DeLuca Philadelphia Inquirer One of the most ambitious single-handed literary enterprises in our time -- James M. Murphy TLS Caro sets the gold standard for modern political biography ... we can only hope we are fortunate enough to see this monumental work reach its long-awaited conclusion -- Tim Soutphommasane New Statesman As riveting as a thriller... The next book will crown an achievement in presidential biography unmatched among presidential histories -- David Hendricks Houston Chronicle Brilliant... Important... Remarkable... With this fascinating and meticulous account of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro has once again done America a great service -- Bill Clinton New York Times Book Review Caro's strength as a biographer is his ability to probe Johnson's mind and motivations... Riveting... A rollercoaster tale The Economist A work of greatness, of such acute observation of politics that its insights are applicable far beyond [its] time and place Independent A work of pure genius -- Steve Akehurst Huffington Post UK A true story of huge personalities, bloody assassinations, loves, hatreds and betrayals (and the Kennedy family) that renders it by turns gripping, sensational and immensely depressing... A white-knuckle rollercoaster ride... Magisterial -- Andrew Roberts Telegraph This extraordinary work will remain essential reading for decades to come -- Richard Lambert Financial Times Monumental... For many politicians it is the finest book on politics... Magnificent...the tension between the fraud and ruthlessness that repulsed political liberals and the reaction of voters to whom he delivered, make Caro's book the ultimate political story -- Daniel Finklestein The Times
Winner of New York Historical Society Book Prize 2013 (United States)
Short-listed for National Book Critics Circle Biography Award 2013 (United States)