Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Path to Power by Robert Caro

My book for March is The Path to Power by Robert Caro. For Christmas, Drew gave me The Passage of Power, the third book in Caro's planned five book biography of Lyndon Johnson. I decided to buy the first book and start at the beginning. This book fits into my long term project to read books about all of the presidents.

This book was released on November 12, 1982. It won the 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award. It was a finalist for the 1983 National Book Award, hardcover autobiography or biography.

In this first volume, The Path to Power, the author traces Johnson's early life growing up in the Texas Hill Country and Washington, D.C.. It covers Johnson's life through his failed 1941 campaign for the United States Senate.

After college, Johnson briefly taught high school. He then served as a congressional secretary and a congressman. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1937 at age 29.

Johnson is not a sympathetic character. He is a scheming opportunist. Seemingly, Johnson would say and do anything to advance his career. He drove himself and others very hard.

I was surprised to find out how close a relationship Johnson had with FDR. He campaigned under FDR's banner when he ran for Congress and the Senate.

Johnson's relationship with Sam Rayburn is also unique. I may have to find a biography on Rayburn at some point.

The book is a load. It does deep dives into a number of areas that are important for context, including Texas Hill country ecology and geography, the building of dams as part of FDR's public works projects, rural electrification and Texas politics.

I enjoyed the book. I gave it a strong "B+."

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