The Path to Power

Robert A. Caro
Reading Order: Book 8
Categories: 2021, Erik Rostad
Pages: 768
Suggested By: Brandon Stanton
Date Started: January 20, 2021
Date Finished: February 14, 2021
31h 8m 3s
Reason Book was Chosen: I’ve heard such incredible things about this series. If the 5th book is released during 2021, I will add it to the list.
My Thoughts

Incredible book. Caro starts off the introduction by saying to understand Lyndon Johnson, you need to understand the Hill Country of Texas. He then spends the next 50 odd pages describing the Hill Country of Texas. There’s a whole chapter about life for a farmer husband a wife, their different roles, and the dreadful drudgery of their existence. I will never forget that chapter. I can’t wait to read the other three books of this series.

7 Comments. Leave new

  • Jeremy Gwizdala
    February 15, 2021 7:02 am

    I just finished this book over the weekend as well. I too had always heard how great they were and when you published your yearly list, I thought it would be a good time to read them as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this and totally agree with you on almost being books within a book. LBJ was only half of it. I just loved the writing and descriptiveness. It is very illuminating to really understand how recent what we consider modern times (electricity, radio etc.) arrived to vast parts of the country. I think I’ll read all the Caro books now. Power Broker and rest of LBJs. Thanks for triggering me to read this, not sure when/if I’d have ever gotten to this series as LBJ has never really struck me as a figure to dig this deep on!

    • Yeah. Glad to hear you are reading these as well. I’m moving along onto the other books in the series now and like you, would like to read his other books “Power Broker” and “Working” and may do so later this year if I get through the rest of my list. Also, there is word that the 5th book of this LBJ series may be coming out in the near future. If it comes out this year, I’ll add it to my list. I’ll be writing a longer review here and will podcast about this book in a few weeks. It was incredible.

  • Andrew McKay
    March 2, 2021 1:53 am

    Hi Erik, I really enjoy reading about the books you have read. I have read all four volumes of the LBJ series twice, they are masterful. Given the length of time Caro spends writing them, I would not expect the last volume until at least 2023. I would suggest adding Caro’s The Power Broker to your list, an excellent book about power in New York, and Caro’s first which won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction.

    • Hi Andrew – wow, you’ve read them twice! That’s amazing. I’m really enjoying the series. Yes, I would like to read The Power Broker if I finish the other books on my list early this year. I’d also like to read his book Working to learn about his writing process. Have you read that one?

  • Andrew McKay
    March 2, 2021 1:59 pm

    Hi Erik – yes, I have read Working as well, which discusses his approach to the research and writing of his books. Many of the stories have been repackaged from magazine articles of the past, but they still make for interesting reading if you haven’t come across them before.

  • Vincent F. Safuto
    March 2, 2021 5:43 pm

    Hi Erik:

    I discovered your podcast on the first volume of Robert Caro’s series on LBJ and agree with everything you said. I’ve read “The Path to Power” three times, and the others at least twice. I’ve also read “The Power Broker” and Caro’s book on working.

    As a journalist myself, I find that I learned more from Robert Caro than four years of college and journalism classes, and 25 years on the news desk.

    Did you see that the Washington Post is doing a podcast series on Lady Bird Johnson? A book has been written about how she made hours and hours of tapes of her personal reflections on the presidency. Here’s an interesting story about Lady Bird. I attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., in the early 1990s. FAU, as it is called, is not a “name” college like the University of Florida or Florida State University, but it’s a major institution that has produced graduates who have gone on to great things.

    LBJ and Lady Bird visited FAU when it first opened and Lyndon made a speech about the space program, among other things. Flash forward decades and I was going through an old desk in the Student Union. Inside a drawer was an envelope, and inside the envelope was a card from Lady Bird Johnson, thanking someone at FAU for their hospitality during their visit. I don’t remember what happened to the card after that.

    As for the book, it was clear that while LBJ did great things for the Hill Country, and later in the realms of civil rights, it was clear he wanted to “wash” his reputation. I recall reading in “Working” that Caro had seen San Marcos yearbooks from his graduation year and was puzzled when one woman talked about all the terrible things that were said about Lyndon in that year’s yearbook.

    As it turned out, Lyndon had sent guys out with X-Acto knives to remove the offending pages, but they never managed to get them all and Caro eventually found one that hadn’t been “edited.” They really didn’t like him there, but I guess it’s a lesson to be nice to everyone because you never know where they’ll end up — like in a position of authority over you.

    I see you’ve read or are reading the other LBJ books. Can’t wait to hear the podcasts.

    Vincent F. Safuto

    • Hi Vincent – thanks for your comments. You are the second person who reached out today saying they had read the Caro series more than once. That’s incredible and quite a time commitment! I had not seen the WaPo’s podcast series about Lady Bird but have just subscribed. One of my clients – Ralph de la Vega – went to FAU! Neat story about the letter. I do hope to read Caro’s other books in the near future, perhaps even this year if I finish my set list before the end of the year. I’ll be covering the other 3 books in upcoming episodes that will release every 2 weeks (Means of Ascent March 12, Master of Senate March 26, Passage of Power, April 9) and then I’ll do an episode that covers the entire series on April 23rd. Take care!


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