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Means of Ascent (1990)

de Robert A. Caro

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2,141307,493 (4.39)55
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.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porjeraldGross, JohnBales, biblioteca privada, benitastrnad, jlala21, gypsybud, TEMLibrary, myamericajakarta, LiveFromAllawah, jordanr2
Bibliotecas HistóricasPresidential Study (1997)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 30 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Lyndon Baines Johnson lied, cheated and stole elections all his life, honing his cunning to take the 1948 Senate elections from Coke Stevenson, the heavily favored rival. Though Johnson would be infamously remembered for catapulting the US onto the Vietnam War, his boorish manners and ill-treatment of women (his wife included), his legacy also includes landmark legislation on Civil Rights, health care (Medicaid & Medicare), Voting Rights and the War on Poverty. The question we need to ask ourselves is, "Do the ends justify the means?" This second book in Caro's seminal work on Johnson raises, but does not answer that question; but instead shows the power move that launched Lyndon Johnson firmly into the political career arc that would culminate, less than twenty years later, with his presidency. Learning from past mistakes, LBJ would violate political & electoral ethics on a scale never before seen in America much less Texas-- with corporate millions bankrolling his senatorial campaign, buying voting districts, voter fraud, ballot stuffing and, judge shopping when the inevitable court challenges were instigated. Caro uncovered evidence decades later not only from the archives at the Johnson presidential library, but from interviews with family, friends, colleagues and operatives. 'Means of Ascent' is an extraordinary true-crime story of a stolen election and an exposition of modern political power. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Jul 4, 2023 |
Caro does it again, covering the years between LBJ's first, unsuccessful, run for the Senate, and his second, successful, run. While only covering 6 years, versus the previous volume's 34 years, this one was much more engaging. Caro writes the 1948 Senate primary almost like a thriller novel. Despite knowing ahead of time the outcome, I still found myself anxiously awaiting to see what would happen next. I'm not sure if I'll get around to reading "Master of the Senate" soon, but I do plan on finishing this series on one of the most fascinating presidents. ( )
  James_Knupp | Mar 4, 2023 |
NA ( )
  eshaundo | Jan 7, 2023 |
I'm not sure if it's a good thing or bad thing that I've waited two weeks to write a review about this book. My original impulse was to be a bit catty about the books subject. I was going to point out that the author, in his second of four volumes (with a fifth still being crafted), found his subject in a sort of dead zone between being an influential U.S. Congressman helping FDR win elections, and the time when that same subject became a major American legislative giant as U.S. Senate majority leader. So, to give his readers more meat to digest, the author threw in a bonus section: "1,001 Steps to Stealing a State-Wide Election and Keep It Stolen" with a much smaller bonus on how to be a politician with integrity (perhaps to show maximum contrast.) Okay, so I didn't do that. I waited and am writing now about how the author started this second volume with a sort of preamble, if you will, basically warning the reader, who may have been impressed by the first volume, that their beloved main character does some truly nasty things in this second round. Also, to be fair, that "dead zone" I mentioned earlier -- forgetting the election stealing part for the moment -- was quite captivating, all on its own. I was really expecting a bit of a let down for this second volume from the first. Wrong. So very wrong. The author continues to set the very highest standards for a biographer. The thing that most readers will pick up very quickly about this multi-volume effort, is that it is not only a monumental work about a particular individual, but also a stunning comment on American governance and society. Did I mention yet that I recommend it highly? ( )
  larryerick | Jan 21, 2022 |
Four stars only in relation to Book 1 of the series, probably a 4.5 overall. This book was not nearly as varied as the first volume as it covered a MUCH shorter time period. Essentially it is about the infamous 1948 Senate race in Texas and as a thorough study of that race it is fantastic. But I felt like I did not get nearly as much LBJ in this one, it is almost as much about Coke Stevenson (his opponent in that election) as LBJ. Still a fascinating and wonderfully written book and I'm looking forward to volumes 3 & 4 in the series in the future. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
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What is clear from Mr. Caro's books is that he is both obsessed with and repelled by power. His analysis of how power is used - to build highways and dams, to win elections, to get rich - is masterly. But he also, deep down, seems to hate power, hate those who wield it, hate it for its sheer, blind force. One sympathizes with this, and it contributes to the moral energy of his books. But the problem is that his approach to power lacks creative tension. Intellectually he understands that it can be used for good ends. ''Many liberal dreams might not be reality even today were it not for Lyndon Johnson,'' he writes in his introduction. But emotionally Mr. Caro seems to find this intolerable, and thus his books are an almost unrelieved litany of impassioned disgust.
 
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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.

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