THE PASSAGE OF POWER.
By Robert A. Caro.
Knopf. 712 pp. $35
Aides to Lyndon Baines Johnson always knew when their boss had decided to engage in a political battle. Once he had finished precisely calibrating the personal costs and benefits, he would begin to gather momentum in a ritual that allies described as “revving up”: the effort to persuade himself of the goodness of his cause, regardless of whether he had previously supported or opposed it. Thus motivated, he would “get all worked up,” as his longtime lawyer, Ed Clark, put it, “all worked up and emotional, and work all day and night, and sacrifice, and say, ‘Follow me for the cause!’—‘Let’s do this because it’s right!’ ”
Those who have read Robert A. Caro’s three previous biographical volumes on Johnson will recognize this groundswell—the sudden marshaling of outsized energies—because it is also the pattern of these mammoth, magnificent books. They chronicle in exhaustive detail the strengths and flaws of the 36th president of the United States, then surge forward toward a pivotal moment with the full weight of that character study behind them.
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Aaron Mesh is a reporter for Willamette Week, an alternative weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon.more from this author >>