Johnson's magic is the main subject of this book ... It makes a wonderful, a glorious tale. The book reads like a Trollope novel, but not even Trollope explored the ambitions and the gullibilities of men as deliciously as Robert Caro does. I laughed often as I read. And 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 ... It is 12 years since Means of Ascent, and Caro has used that time not only for gathering facts with incredible industry but, evidently, for reflection. The result is a more rounded Lyndon Johnson. We get him warts and all -- plenty of warts -but also with admiring recognition of his accomplishments ... Johnson made the impossible happen. Caro's description of how he did it is masterly ... The tragedy of Lyndon Johnson came when he found that he could not run the world. The Vietnamese would not yield to his persuasion or his power ... That story is for a future volume of Robert Caro's biography. It will be hard to equal this amazing book.
Although Caro grudgingly acknowledges Johnson's achievements, the real juice of this book lies in his tales of Johnson's underhanded and self-serving behavior ... Caro is fatally attracted to the kind of man he can hate ... Caro has the strengths of an investigative reporter ... He is a tireless researcher and has a nose for the neglected detail and the buried story. But he also has an investigative reporter's weaknesses: a determination to 'get the goods' on his subject ... There is a lot of heavy breathing and grasping of the reader's lapels in his books ... Caro's writing can also be overwrought. His work groans under self-consciously novelistic or scene-setting devices ... Both in treatment and in subject this book is twice as long as it should be. It would have benefited considerably from some ruthless editing ... In focusing so relentlessly on Johnson's ambition, Caro often loses track of Johnson as a human being ... After three volumes and some 2,500 pages of text, Caro has still not been able to capture Johnson's complexity.
...it is Caro's great achievement that in more than 1,000 pages contained in this volume he has massively extended his work on Lyndon Johnson without in any way diluting its quality ... To me this book stands out because it brings that pace and drama to life: it makes it almost as exciting to read the book as it would have been to be there ... Caro's achievement...is not only vividly to tell the story of one remarkable man. It is also to explain with clarity the lives of the people he worked with, the history of the institutions in which he exercised his power, and the deep social forces which moved those people and institutions to action. When a fourth volume finally completes the set, this will be nothing short of a magnificent history of 20th-century America.
This huge volume, the third of Caro's exhaustive four-part study of Johnson, paints a vivid and stunningly accurate picture of how business is done in the United States senate ... Caro's Johnson lives up to the public's worst fears of what makes politicians tick ... Caro's Johnson gives new meaning to the phrase 'sucking up and pissing down". But he is also determined, the "hardest working man" in American politics. And he has a gift for reading men. There is no place where that gift is more important than the US senate ... The LBJ that comes through most clearly, though, is a man of compassion ... It is hard to dispute Caro's conclusion that "it was Lyndon Johnson, among all the white government officials in 20th-century America, who did the most to help America's black men and women in their fight for equality and justice..
... [a] gigantic projected tetralogy ... Totaling some 2,500 pages so far, it has already become a work that is stunning in, if nothing else, the sheer Brobdingnagian magnitude of its narrative ambition, a feat of reportorial industry impossible not to admire. The difficulty in Caro’s third volume, though, is that the intermediary passage of Johnson’s progress it follows...was largely confined to parliamentary theater...that it would take Caro over a thousand pages, far more than in either of his previous volumes, to narrate this interim stage in Johnson’s story would seem a testimonial to its indefinite dramatic currency; and one cannot escape the impression that Caro has expended great effort to somehow make it matter with a piling up of words about it. Over those expanses of prose, one bafflingly encounters profusely detailed but strangely weightless stretches ... Throughout there are arrestingly rich scenes ... But those scenes mostly decorate what turn out to be...essentially pseudo-happenings. More dispiritingly, there persists from the prior two volumes Caro’s understanding of Johnson, which reduces him to a mere vast appetite for power—as if he amounted to not much more than a stupendous political Snopes.
...Caro offers a fascinating look at this respected and feared leader ... Along with Johnson's personal story, Caro gives us a mini-history of the Senate that helps to put LBJ's remarkable career in context. Caro, who spends years researching and writing his books, has added another authoritative, insightful narrative to his admirable series.
Mr Caro's research spans decades and his command of material is encyclopedic. He drives the story forward irresistibly and makes the arcane almost graphic. Master of the Senate takes less stamina to read than to lift. 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.
...Caro’s latest volume took a dozen years to research and write, and the effort shows on every page; if anything, it can be faulted only for its overflowing surfeit of detail, which includes everything from the down-to-the-last-drop contents of a Texas oil pipeline to the layout of Capitol offices. The third installment is full of drama, if it is sometimes buried in all that information ... Magisterial, exhaustive, and highly literate, a Plutarch (or perhaps Suetonius) for our time: would that all political biographies were so good.
As a genre, Senate biography tends not to excite ... Nevertheless, there is something uniquely mesmerizing about the wily, combative Lyndon Johnson as portrayed by Caro ... Caro portrays an uncompromisingly ambitious man at the height of his political and rhetorical powers: a furtive, relentless operator who routinely played both sides of the street to his advantage ... Though it emerges here that he was perhaps not instinctively on the side of the angels...the pragmatic Senator Johnson nevertheless understood the drift of history well, and invariably chose to swim with the tide, rather than against. The same would not be said later of the Johnson who dwelled so glumly in the White House, expanding a war that even he, eventually, came to loathe. But that is another volume: one that we shall await eagerly.