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Download Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 3 of a 3-Part Recording) Audiobook

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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,939 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert A. Caro Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2002 ISBN: 9781415923771
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Book Three of Robert A. Caro’s monumental work, The Years of Lyndon Johnson—the most admired and riveting political biography of our era—which began with the best-selling and prizewinning The Path to Power and Means of Ascent.

Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his twelve years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the book is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.

It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience—from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine—came to fruition. Caro introduces the story with a dramatic account of the Senate itself: how Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun had made it the center of governmental energy, the forum in which the great issues of the country were thrashed out. And how, by the time Johnson arrived, it had dwindled into a body that merely responded to executive initiatives, all but impervious to the forces of change. Caro anatomizes the genius for political strategy and tactics by which, in an institution that had made the seniority system all-powerful for a century and more, Johnson became Majority Leader after only a single term—the youngest and greatest Senate Leader in our history; how he manipulated the Senate’s hallowed rules and customs and the weaknesses and strengths of his colleagues to change the “unchangeable” Senate from a loose confederation of sovereign senators to a whirring legislative machine under his own iron-fisted control.

Caro demonstrates how Johnson’s political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust—or at least the cooperation—of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. He shows the dark side of Johnson’s ambition: how he proved his loyalty to the great oil barons who had financed his rise to power by ruthlessly destroying the career of the New Dealer who was in charge of regulating them, Federal Power Commission Chairman Leland Olds. And we watch him achieve the impossible: convincing southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson’s amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875.

Master of the Senate is told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro’s peerless research—years immersed in the worlds of Johnson and the United States Senate, examining thousands of documents and talking to hundreds of people, from pages and cloakroom clerks to senators and administrative aides. The result is both a galvanizing portrait of the man himself—the titan of Capitol Hill, volcanic, mesmerizing—and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings of personal and legislative power. It is a work that displays all the acuteness of understanding and narrative brilliance that led the New York Times to call Caro’s The Path to Power “a monumental political saga . . . powerful and stirring.”

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Quotes & Awards

  • A wonderful, a glorious tale. . . . It will be hard to equal this amazing book. It reads like a Trollope novel, but not even Trollope explored the ambitions and the gullibilities of men as deliciously as Robert Caro does. Even though I knew what the outcome of a particular episode would be, I followed Caro’s account of it with excitement. I went back over chapters to make sure I had not missed a word . . . Caro’s description of how [Johnson passed the civil rights legislation] is masterly; I was there and followed the course of the legislation closely, but I did not know the half of it. Anthony Lewis, The New York Times Book Review
  • A masterpiece . . . Robert Caro has written one of the truly great political biographies of the modern age. Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (London)
  • Mesmerizing. . . . [It] brings LBJ blazing into the Senate. . . . A tale rife with drama and hypnotic in the telling. The historian’s equivalent of a Mahler symphony. Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
  • Caro’s immersion in the man and period yields a fascinating, entertaining abundance . . . Master of the Senate splendidly reassembles the U.S. Senate of those years. Time
  • Brilliant . . . Caro achieves a special tension, too rare in history books but essential in epic poetry: the drama of a hero who is wrestling with his enemies, his limitations and his fate to achieve something truly lasting . . . In his hands, the obscure fight over legislation becomes nothing less than a battle for the soul of America . . . It’s a terribly important work, unblinkingly delineating the inner workings of our democracy. Chicago Tribune
  • An epic tale of winning and wielding power. Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Caro must be America's greatest living Presidential biographer . . . He entrances us with both his words and his research . . . No other contemporary biographer offers such a complex picture of the forces driving an American politician, or populates his work with such vividly drawn secondary characters. Extraordinary. Richard S. Dunham, BusinessWeek
  • Brilliant . . . A riveting political drama. Douglas Brinkley, Boston Globe
  • The most complete portrait of the Senate ever drawn. Michael Wolff, New York
  • A terrific study of power politics. Steve Neal, Chicago Sun-Times
  • “In this fascinating book, Robert Caro does more than carry forward his epic life of Lyndon Johnson. With compelling narrative power and with remarkable subtlety and sensitivity, he illuminates the Senate of the United States and its byzantine power struggles. In this historical tour-de-force, Robert Caro shows himself the true 'master of the Senate.’ Arthur Schlesinger, Jr
  • Master of the Senate and its two preceding volumes are the highest expression of biography as art. After The Path to Power and Means of Ascent, there shouldn’t be much debate about Caro's grand achievement, but let’s be clear about this nonetheless: In terms of political biography, not only does it not get better than this, it can’t. Patrick Beach, Austin American-Statesman
  • These [legislative battles] are great stories, the stuff of the legends of democracy—rich in character, plot, suspense, nuttiness, human frailty, maddening stupidity. These should be the American sagas; these should be our epics. Bob Caro has given us a beauty, and I think we owe him great thanks. Molly Ivins, New York Observer
  • Indefatigably researched and brilliantly written . . . Powerful . . . One of Caro’s most valuable contributions is his excavation of the lost art of legislating . . . Rich and rewarding. Ronald Brownstein, Times Literary Supplement
  • Epic . . . It is impossible to imagine that a political science class on the U.S. Congress can be taught today that does not reference this book. It is a florid and graphic account of how Congress works, an authoritative work on the history of the Senate and a virtual cookbook of recipes for legislative success for the nascent politician. Robert F. Julian, New York Law Journal
  • “A panoramic study of how power plays out in the legislative arena. Combining the best techniques of investigative reporting with majestic storytelling ability, Caro has created a vivid, revelatory institutional history as well as a rich hologram of Johnson's character . . . He seems to have perfectly captured and understood Johnson’s capacity for greatness. Jill Abramson, New York Times
  • Master of the Senate forces us not only to rewrite our national political history but to rethink it as well . . . Caro’s been burrowing beneath the shadows of the substance of our politics for more than twenty-eight years, and what he finds is both fascinating and surprising . . . Compulsively readable. Eric Alterman, The Nation
  • A spectacular piece of historical biography, delicious reading for both political junkies and serious students of the political process. . . . Fascinating. Robert D. Novak, The Weekly Standard
  • Vintage Caro—a portrait so deft, vivid, and compelling that you practically feel LBJ gripping your arm and bending you to his will. Jean Strouse
  • Caro is a master of biography . . . With his Tolstoyian touch for storytelling and drama, Caro gives us a fascinating ride through the corridors of Senate sovereignty . . . Of all the many Johnson biographies, none approaches Caro’s work in painstaking thoroughness, meticulous detail and the capture of character . . . A dazzling tour de force that certifies Caro as the country's preeminent specialist in examining political power and its uses. Paul Duke, Baltimore Sun
  • Masterful . . . A work of genius. Steve Weinberg, New Orleans Times-Picayune
  • Caro writes history with [a] novelist’s sensitivity . . . No historian offers a more vivid sense not only of what happened, but what it looked like and felt like. Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
  • The richly cadenced prose is hypnotic, the research prodigious, the analysis acute, the mood spellbinding, and the cast of characters mythic in scale. I cannot conceive of a better book about Capitol Hill. An unforgettable, epic achievement in the art of biography. Ron Chernow
  • Destined to rank among the great political profiles of our time. Master of the Senate succeeds only in part because Johnson is such a fascinating figure. The other half of the equation is Caro. Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star
  • “It is, quite simply, the finest biography I have ever read. It is more than that: it is one of the finest works of literature I have encountered. Irvine Welsh, New Statesman
  • “Caro is a gifted and passionate writer, and his all-encompassing approach to understanding LBJ provides readers with a panoramic history of twentieth-century American politics as well as a compelling discourse on the nature and uses of political power . . . One of the best analyses of the legislative process ever written. Philip A. Klinkner, The Nation
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography
  • A 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Srinivas Varadarajan | 2/20/2014

    " One of the best books I have read...Robert Caro's research is impressive...he deserved the award... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Spencer Hall | 2/12/2014

    " Easily one of the finest books I have ever read. Looking forward very much to the final two volumes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick | 2/10/2014

    " One of the best biographies I have ever read. A firmer editorial hand would have reduced the bulk of this monstrous volume. (We get it: Johnson's support for civil rights waxed and waned with what his ambition required at any given moment. Johnson liked poor people and minorities, but he loved power most of all.) The book is worth it for Caro's portrait of Richard Russell alone, not to mention sketches of dozens of minor characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denae | 2/8/2014

    " I knew practically nothing about Lyndon Johnson when I started to read this. Other than knowing he was in office when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, and having a deep familiarity with the employment law aspects of that act, I knew little about him other than his "Great Society" legislation, and even that vaguely. This book chronicles, with great detail, his time in Congress, particularly that time he spent in the Senate. I am not certain I have ever taken so long to read a single book, but this was a very dense read. While Caro's political views become clear at various points throughout, I never felt he was saying things that were unjustified, in part due to the extremely thorough documentation. That being said, he made the story compelling and the people involved real. He avoided the twin traps of many biographies; he was neither apologist nor accuser. He sometimes ranged towards one side or the other, but overall I come away with the impression of a well-balanced view of an extraordinarily fascinating man. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 2/3/2014

    " Very long but worth it. Now I must wait until 2012 for the forth volume. This book would be a wonderful tool to use with students at the high school or college level. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Owen | 1/22/2014

    " Caro has a style that's unlike any other nonfiction writer I've experienced, he has the dramatic turn of phrase of a novelist and the eye for detail of a documentary filmmaker. As good as the previous two books in this series are, this one has much greater nuance in its portrayal of Johnson. I can't wait for the planned fourth volume. The only better biography that comes close is The Power Broker, Caro's biography of Robert Moses. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarita | 1/19/2014

    " It's unbelievable that a book this long and containing large chunks of Congressional debate could be a page-turner, but it is. I finished the whole, heavy thing and felt as sad to be done and as desperate for another, please, as I did at the end of the Potter series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen | 12/30/2013

    " Absolutely killer deep dive into legislative politics and political mastery with a huge and important historical context. Must read for anyone interested in politics or American history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy McCluskey | 12/27/2013

    " Best book ever written on the US Senate "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeni | 12/24/2013

    " This is the best of the series so far. It's a thesis on the Senate as well as a great book about LBJ. Thi should be read by any student of politics or the US government. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jared Perkins | 6/29/2013

    " Fantastic! Very well written, continues the narrative of the first two books. The last three hundred pages tell the civil rights saga of the late 1950's in such a compelling narrative I couldn't put it down. It stands to all it's accolades. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kay | 2/20/2013

    " It took me almost two years to read this book. It was very heavy and I developed tendinitis in my shoulder while reading it (caused by something else). LBJ is fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Russell | 11/27/2012

    " Truly a masterpiece, although it took me a whole summer to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jawkneeeye | 10/6/2012

    " Pulitzer Prize winning Cato may be the best non-fiction writer in the US "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan Desimone | 8/20/2012

    " This was a great history of Lyndon Johnson as Senate leader focused on the period leading up to the Civil Rights Bill of 1957. I had never realized how he revolutionized the position of majority leader. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Lord | 6/12/2012

    " Fascinating book about a complex politician. I couldn't put it down "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kerry | 3/11/2012

    " My husband bought me this for my birthday in September. Reading this in parallel to the news today (bank bailout, election) is fascinating. Recommend so far!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alfred Stanley | 11/1/2011

    " The first hundred pages explaining the institution of the United States Senate is something every American ought to read. The portrayal of Johnson the consummate legislative leader that he was is masterful and moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anna | 8/17/2011

    " Interesting window into the world of politics and a master politician. I don't admire Johnson's character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marjorie.harris | 8/11/2011

    " Lyndon Johnson, though a Dixiecrat to his heart, was the President who most seriously supported social and economic equality for African-Americans during the 1960s. Why do we have such a love affair with the Kennedys? Read on.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 7/31/2011

    " fascinating, gripping, artfully and skillfully told. a tour de force of legislative process and a man's mastery of it, set in the historical context it should be set against. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Evan | 3/21/2011

    " The greatest part of the greatest biography of all time. Not just an in-depth look at Johnson, but at the institutions in which he worked and the characters who shaped him. After all, people do not exist in a vacuum and Caro understands this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 2/21/2011

    " So, you think LBJ was a bad president?? Maybe he was. But no doubt, he was the most influential Senator in history. No one before or since has run the Senate like the clock LBJ did. You want to understand Cloture and the history of Civil Rights legislation, read this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scot | 2/17/2011

    " This series completely changed my perception of LBJ. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael | 1/29/2011

    " Exhausting and fantastic. What an accomplishment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hock | 1/28/2011

    " Caro and McMurtry have recreate the image of the letters in Texas. Master of the Senate is long and dense and deeply satisfying. I especially liked the passages regarding Truman's firing of MacArthur, Russell Long, and the passing of the civil rights act. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 12/11/2010

    " This is the only book in Robert Caro's four volume Years of Lyndon Johnson that I have read. It was engrossing and the best biography I have ever read. It helped me appreciate and fear the means some people go to to attain power. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Ronan | 11/22/2010

    " The fourth volume of this series will be released in 2012, we are told. Can't wait. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 10/14/2010

    " This volume is great biography, great history, presenting the villain as he inveigles national power. "

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About the Author
Author Robert A. Caro

Robert A. Caro has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award multiple times, as well as also winning 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 “exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist.” In 2010 President Obama presented him with the National Humanities Medal. Caro lives in New York City with his wife.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.