LBJ: The Path to Power

Lyndon JohnsonI have been reading the first volume of Robert Caro’s biography of President Lyndon Johnson, The Path to Power, and it is fascinating. I don’t normally read biographies, but I had heard good things about this one. It hasn’t disappointed.

Caro takes his time and paints a complex portrait of LBJ, the man and political genius, rooted in the Texas hill country, but always straining against his own limitations and the limits of his circumstances for more. At times one wonders whether Caro holds a grudge against Johnson since his narrative seems to focus on Johnson’s cynical ambitions for power and prestige, however, by dispensing with sympathy, Caro has created a sense of drama and mystery around the man.

From the story of Lyndon Johnson, you learn a lot about the power of will and the power of dreams and goals. From an early age, LBJ possessed an ambition to be important. While many children have wanted to grow up to be president, how many approached their goals with a single-minded determination? How many have done everything they could to achieve what they wanted out of life? In LBJ, you see a man of extraordinary political genius who, while deeply flawed, worked tirelessly to achieve what he wanted. In that energy and will, there is a compelling example: you can accomplish great things through work and desire.

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