Means of Ascent

Means of Ascent

Book - 1982-1990
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In Means of Ascent, Book Two of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro brings alive Lyndon Johnson in his wilderness years.

Here, Johnson's almost mythic personality--part genius, part behemoth, at once hotly emotional and icily calculating--is seen at its most nakedly ambitious. This multifaceted book carries the President-to-be from the aftermath of his devastating defeat in his 1941 campaign for the Senate-the despair it engendered in him, and the grueling test of his spirit that followed as political doors slammed shut-through his service in World War II (and his artful embellishment of his record) to the foundation of his fortune (and the actual facts behind the myth he created about it).

The culminating drama--the explosive heart of the book--is Caro's illumination, based on extraordinarily detailed investigation, of one of the great political mysteries of the century. Having immersed himself in Johnson's life and world, Caro is able to reveal the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, for years shrouded in rumor, which Johnson was not believed capable of winning, which he "had to" win or face certain political death, and which he did win-by 87 votes, the "87 votes that changed history."

Telling that epic story "in riveting and eye-opening detail," Caro returns to the American consciousness a magnificent lost hero. He focuses closely not only on Johnson, whom we see harnessing every last particle of his strategic brilliance and energy, but on Johnson's "unbeatable" opponent, the beloved former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson, who embodied in his own life the myth of the cowboy knight and was himself a legend for his unfaltering integrity. And ultimately, as the political duel between the two men quickens--carrying with it all the confrontational and moral drama of the perfect Western--Caro makes us witness to a momentous turning point in American politics: the tragic last stand of the old politics versus the new--the politics of issue versus the politics of image, mass manipulation, money and electronic dazzle.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1982-<1990 >
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780394528359
Branch Call Number: 973.923 CAR
Characteristics: v. 2 > : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Apr 26, 2016

I almost did not wish to comment on this as I despised Johnson for his traitorous ways, but must reply to commenter, Fnarf - - there were three people in Dallas on 11/22/63 - - Johnson, Nixon and Geo. H.W. Bush [and a fourth, Gerald Ford, on the Warren Commission], and those three and Ford would all end up as president.
Coincidence? Hardly . . .
Had JFK not been murdered in Dallas, Johnson would have most likely been indicted for alleged murder or as an accessory, along with some other crimes.
From the brutal murder of President John F. Kennedy, who worked on behalf of the people and the American workers and ending segregation and giving us the Internet and all the innovations stemming from the NASA Moon Project, those four soundrels and heinous cretins profited mightily! [And please never forget all the Americans and foreign peoples sacrificed by Johnson: thirty-four members of the USS Liberty were killed with one hundred and seventy wounded, and many would remain in a bad way for the remainder of their lives; a failed false flag op; those thousands of military in Vietnam, and millions of Vietnamese; somewhere between one-half to one million Indonesians, Brazilians wanting democracy, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and Johnson ended the speculation tax and approved the amendment allowing American banks to purchase foreign banks, step one in the global banking cartel we exist under today!
[So-called pundits frequently love to remark that LBJ was bad on foreign, but good on domestic, as if there is some magical disconnect between the two!]

Mar 08, 2015

By the time you finish this book, you will be convinced that (1) Lyndon Johnson got into the US Senate by rampant fraud and vote buying, and (2) he likely knew all about it and may have even directed it. Robert Caro's second volume of his massive work on LBJ spares us nothing in his detailed account of the 1948 Texas US Senate race. No one on LBJ's side--including his lawyers, one of whom LBJ would eventually nominate to the US Supreme Court--comes out looking good with the possible exception of Lady Bird, for whom one must feel sympathy as she continues to have to put up with her verbally abusive husband.

The first two volumes of Caro's work paints a picture of a conniving, lying, amoral man, whose sole interest in life is power grabbing, no matter what the cost, financially or ethically.

Apr 05, 2013

Fascinating book. Well written and researched. Caro is an excellent story teller.

Sep 12, 2012

This is the worst of Caro's volumes, because it is the one in which his animosity and naivete run strongest. Caro is great with the details, and the investigative work he did cannot be questioned; but he is simply not an historian. He doesn't understand the one thing that is central to his tale: how politics works (particularly politics in 20th-century Texas). If you read this book, you MUST also read Sidney Blumenthal's demolition job in The New Republic, "The Years of Robert Caro" (available online at SPL). Later editions of Caro's book attempt feebly to counter that attack in an afterword, but Blumenthal's got his number. Most egregious is Caro's starry-eyed hero worship of "Mr. Texas", the god-like super-rancher Coke Stevenson who could do no wrong. But Stevenson could do wrong, and often did; and Caro has no clue. He doesn't even mention Stevenson's white-supremacist group, the Texas Regulars, or the 1944 election, which are both central to understanding Johnson and Texas politics at the time. It's not just that this book is a smear job; it's simply not aware. As Blumenthal puts it, there are 69 pages on Johnson's helicopter and zero on the Texas Regulars. That's bad history.

The other Caro volumes are much better. And this one is useful; it just needs to be read with a corrective lens, like one provided by the Dallek book.


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