Dear Commons Community,
It is the time of year when many of us try to catch up on some of our pleasure reading. I have just finished Robert Caro’s The Passage of Power about Lyndon Johnson’s ascent to the presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It is Caro’s fourth volume on Johnson. If you have read any of his previous works then you know what you can expect in this volume. If you haven’t, Caro is one the more important and interesting biographers in our country today.
For those of us who were alive in 1963, Caro’s lead up to and the days immediately following President Kennedy’s assassination will bring back powerful memories. I also enjoyed the stories on the Johnson/Robert Kennedy feud. In a word they hated each another. Caro presents the various sides of Johnson from country bumpkin to shrewd congressional wheeler-dealer to a president who had no problem wielding power in any way possible to achieve his goals. Johnson was particularly adept at reading people and pushing the right buttons to get them to see issues his way. Caro covers well several of Johnson’s significant accomplishment especially the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and antipoverty legislation. Johnson’s legacy also has to carry the burden of being the main focus of protest during the Vietnam War.
For those of you interested in Johnson, the early 1960s, or simply the American political system, you will likely find The Passage of Power a good read. If you are not sure that you want to make the investment of time or money, you can check out former President Bill Clinton’s review in the New York Times.