Author(s): Robert A Caro
A publishing event: the fourth volume in Robert Caro's monumental biography, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, which began with the best-selling and prize-winning "The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, "and "Master of the Senate."
"The Passage of Power" follows Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career. It tells the story of his volatile relationship with John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy during the fight they waged for the 1960 Democratic nomination for president and through Johnson's unhappy vice presidency. It gives us for the first time the story of the assassination from the viewpoint of Lyndon Johnson himself. And with the depth of insight, the profound grasp of both the life and times of his subject that Robert Caro has consistently brought to this mesmerizing biography, it reveals what it was like to suddenly become president in a time of great crisis--an assumption of presidential power unprecedented in American history; how he stepped, unprepared, into the presidency and within weeks forced through Congress bills on the budget and civil rights that it had determined to let die; how through his singular political genius he set out to make the presidency his own, and to fulfill the highest purpose of the office. It is Johnson's finest hour, before his aspirations and his accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam.
For his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, has three times won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year and for Best Biography of the Year, and has also won virtually every other major literary honor, including the National Book Award, the Gold Medal in Biography from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians to the book that best "exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist." In 2010, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Caro's first book, "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, "everywhere acclaimed as a modern classic, was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the hundred greatest nonfiction books of the twentieth century. "Time"magazine chose it as one of the hundred top nonfiction books of all time. It is, according to David Halberstam, "Surely the greatest book ever written about a city." And "The New York Times Book Review "said: "In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort." The first volume of "The Years of Lyndon Johnson, The Path to Power," was cited by"The Washington Post "as "proof that we live in a great age of biography . . . [a book] of radiant excellence . . . Caro's evocation of the Texas Hill Country, his elaboration of Johnson's unsleeping ambition, his understanding of how politics actually work, are--let it be said flat out--at the summit of American historical writing." Professor Henry F. Graff of Columbia University called the second volume, "Means of Ascent," "brilliant. No review does justice to the drama of the story Caro is telling, which is nothing less than how present-day politics was born." The London "Times "hailed volume three, "Master of the Senate," as "a masterpiece . . . Robert Caro has written one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age." "The Passage of Power, "volume four, has been called "Shakespearean . . . A breathtakingly dramatic story [told] with consummate artistry and ardor" ("The New York Times") and "as absorbing as a political thriller . . . By writing the best presidential biography the country has ever seen, Caro has forever changed the way we think about, and read, American history" (NPR). On the cover of "The New York Times Book Review, "President Bill Clinton praised it as "Brilliant . . . Important . . . Remarkable. With this fascinating and meticulous account Robert Caro has once again done America a great service." "Caro has a unique place among American political biographers," "The Boston Globe "said . . . "He has become, in many ways, the standard by which his fellows are measured." And Nicholas von Hoffman wrote: "Caro has changed the art of political biography." Born and raised in New York City, Caro graduated from Princeton University, was later a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, and worked for six years as an investigative reporter for "Newsday." He lives in New York City with his wife, Ina, the historian and writer.