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Master of the Senate
Master of the Senate

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Robert A. Caro was graduated from Princeton University, was for six years an award-winning investigative reporter for Newsday, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

To create The Power Broker, Caro spent seven years tracing and talking with hundreds of men and women who had worked with, for or against Robert Moses, and examining mountains of files never before opened to the public. The Power Broker won both the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians for the book that "exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist." It was chosen as one of the hundred best nonfiction books of the twentieth century.

To research The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Caro and his wife, Ina, moved from his native New York City to the Texas Hill Country and then to Washington, D.C., to live in the locales in which Johnson grew up and in which he built, while still young, his first political machines. He has spent years examining documents at the Johnson Library in Austin and interviewing men and women connected with Johnson's life, many of whom had never before been interviewed. The first volume of the Johnson work, The Path to Power, won the National Book Critics Circle Award as the best nonfiction work of 1982. The second volume, Means of Ascent, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1990. In preparation for writing Master of the Senate, the third volume, Caro immersed himself in the world of the United States Senate, spending week after week in the gallery, in committee rooms, in the Senate Office Building, and interviewing hundreds of people, from pages and cloakroom clerks to senators and administrative aides.

Among the numerous other awards Caro has won are the H. L. Mencken Award, the Carr P. Collins Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Robert Caro is represented by the Knopf Speakers Bureau
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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.”

"After more than a quarter of a century of research and thought about Lyndon Johnson, Caro sees the man in full--whirlwind of ego, exhibitionist, Uriah Heep, hilarious mimic, legislative magician, idealist, visionary. . . . 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." --Lance Morrow, Time

"To immerse oneself in Robert Caro's heroic biographies is to come face to face with a shocking but unavoidable realization: Much of what we think we know about money, power and politics is a fairy tale. . . Master of the Senate forces us not only to rewrite our national political history but to rethink it as well." --Eric Alterman, The Nation

"A spectacular piece of historical biography, delicious reading for both political junkies and serious students of the political process. . . . Fascinating . . . This long-anticipated third volume is worth the wait." --Robert D. Novak, The Weekly Standard

"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

"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. . . . A most revealing book." --Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

"Masterful . . . . A work of genius." --Steve Weinberg, New Orleans Times-Picayune

"It will be hard to equal this amazing book. . . . A wonderful, a glorious tale. . . . Johnson made the impossible happen. Caro's description of how he did it [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, New York Times Book Review

"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.

"Probably the best book ever written about the U.S. Senate. A terrific study of power politics." --Steve Neal, Chicago Sun-Times

"Does it live up to the profound success of the earlier volumes? The answer is a resounding yes. . . . The biography of the season." --Brad Hooper, Booklist

"Master of the Senate is 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

"Breathtaking to read, like spending a week curled up with a magnificent political novel. . . . here we get a giant, a colossus who bestrode the U.S. Senate from 1949 until 1961. Caro tells this story as it has never been told before. We see Johnson revealed . . . overpowering everyone around him with the irresistible Johnson treatment." --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Modern Maturity

"Mesmerizing . . . The historian's equivalent of a Mahler symphony--vast, detailed and striving for the universal . . . Without ever straying from the mountain of facts he's amassed, Caro delivers a tale rife with drama and hypnotic in the telling . . . [It] brings Lyndon blazing into the Senate." --Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

"The most complete portrait of the Senate ever drawn. The work, told within the framework of the life of Lyndon Johnson, is really an epic history of the twentieth century." --Michael Wolff, New York

"Mr. Caro drives the story forward irresistibly and makes the arcane almost graphic...If Mr Caro's work on Johnson has not already set a new standard in American political biography, it surely will when his story of Johnson's presidency is complete." --The Economist

"In this magnificent work, Robert Caro has given us the grand and absorbing saga of Lyndon Johnson, the U.S. Senate, and the Democratic Party at mid-century. 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

"Uniquely mesmerizing." --Publishers Weekly

"Magisterial . . . A Plutarch (or perhaps Suetonius) for our time: would that all political biographies were so good." --Kirkus Reviews