Path to Power

Caro, Robert A. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power. New York: Vintage Books, 1982.

Reason read: Presidents Day is celebrated in February and Johnson was our 36th President of the United States.

Here’s what I knew about Johnson before reading Caro’s book: sworn in as President after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Came into office as the “Great Society” President because he carried Kennedy’s platform: he cared about social issues such as education, civil rights and anti-poverty. He left office as the “Baby Killer” President because he had led the United States further into the Vietnam war. Here’s what I learned about President Johnson after reading Caro’s first book: Johnson was a pathological liar about his childhood and personal life, was a genius for secrecy, and was a terrible kid growing up. He was constantly disobeying his parents, had no respect for his father, even disliked reading books…that didn’t change once he got to college, nor did it sit well with me. He continue to lie and manipulate like Othello’s Iago throughout his entire life. His hunger for power was displayed in odd ways (like forcing assistants to converse with him while he was on the toilet).

In the very beginning of Path to Power Caro introduces his readers to Hill Country Texas, setting the stage of poverty as the very first driving force behind Johnson’s ruthless ambition. Subsequently, every following chapter is scaffolded (my word) by the political and economic climate and influential people of the time. As a result, Path to Power appears to veer off topic from time to time. It also creates a wordiness and heft to the biography that some deem unnecessary.

Author fact: Caro has his own website here.

Book trivia: Path to Power is the first book in what was supposed to be the Years of Lyndon Johnson trilogy. Those three books are on my list. However, a fourth book, The Passage of Power covers years 1958 to 1964.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter obviously and logically called “Presidential Biographies” (p 193). Note: it would have been awesome to biographies of each president right up to publication date. I would have liked to have read Jimmy Carter, Rutherford B. Hayes or even William Harrison.


2 Comments on “Path to Power”

  1. Yep, but he was from the great state of Texas and Kennedy would never have won without him (although Jack and Bobby never trusted him for a second). And he led the way for Nixon… my favorite DEAD president.


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