The second volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson tells the story of LBJ s rise from a mere Congressman one with little hope for significant advancement to his unlikely lection to the US Senate The majority of the pages describe Johnson s relentless ruthless Zu schnell expensive and dishonest campaign against former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson for the 1948 Democratic nomination which Johnson officially but far from legitimately won by 87 votesTexas at the time was a one party state with the one party being the Democratic party so in statewide races the winner of the Democratic party nomination was all but guaranteed to win the generallection Sleepless (Bird of Stone, exactly like my home statexcept with the single party being the Republican party When the popular honest and honorable Governor Stevenson ntered the race for the open Texas Senate seat it was presumed by most all Texans that he would be the nominee and the next Senator from TexasBut Lyndon Johnson a man to whom winning meant verything had other ideas With a near unlimited amount of campaign money at his disposal and connections to some of the most powerful and often corrupt local leaders Johnson was able to very literally steal the lection for himselfThe story of how this was done is absolutely fascinating The ability of Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Caro to describe in such amazing detail the political maneuverings and the interwoven lives and activities of all the players kept me nthralled from start to finish The Years of Lyndon Johnson is so much than just a biography As the author Invisible (The Curse of Avalon explains From the first time I thought of becoming a biographer I never conceived of my biographies as merely telling the lives of famous men but rather as a means of illuminating their times and the great forces that shaped their times particularly political power since in a democracy political power has so great a role in shaping the lives of the citizens of that democracy What I set out to try to do was toxamine the way power works in America in the middle of the twentieth century Mr Caro fully achieved his goal with this book Means of Ascent The Years of Lyndon Johnson is the second volume in Robert Caro s series covering the life of Lyndon B Johnson Caro is a former investigative reporter and the author of two Pulitzer Prize winning biographies Master of the Senate the third volume in this series and The Power Broker about the life of Robert Moses Caro is currently working on the fifth and presumably final volume in his LBJ seriesPublished in 1990 Means of Ascent covers seven difficult years of LBJ s life from shortly after his 1941 loss in a special Yummy Supper election for the US Senate while a congressman to his controversial 1948 Senate victory over former Texas governor Coke Stevenson This 412 page volume is the shortest in Caro s series but again demonstrates the author s tenacious research habits and willingness to dive deeply into a subjectCaro s writing style in this volume is strikingly similar to his prose of the first volume it is neitherlegant nor flowery but is packed with intensity and a clever if slightly unwieldy bent Individual sentences often read as though they were authored by Charles Dickensbut with ven punch The third sentence in this book for instance contains 124 words and than a dozen commas colons and semicolonsDespite being an integral part of a much larger series Means of Ascent is designed to be a standalone volume Caro repeats nough of the first volume s highlights in Deep Listening early chapters that a reader could begin the series here without missing important themes And in this book s final chapters Caro foreshadows where the next volumes will take LBJ and his insatiable thirst for powerVolume 2 begins inarnest with Johnson s brief service in World War II the subject of significant mbellishment by the future president This is followed by LBJ s purchase of a Texas radio station which ventually proved no less contentious But the book s primary focus is LBJ s Evolution, Me Other Freaks of Nature election to the US Senate in a fascinating and well told story of intrigue corruption and rural Texas politics The book couldasily have been titled The Stolen Senate Election of 1948 Readers familiar with Caro will recognize the meticulously thorough research which underpins this biography he seems to have interviewed veryone who knew LBJas well as veryone who knew someone who knew LBJ Also familiar his use of captivating mini biographies to introduce important supporting charactersThe most important of these introductions is aimed at Coke Stevenson Johnson s primary opponent in his 1948 Senate bid who receives an Trajan entire chapter much like Sam Rayburn in the previous volume But there are others who also receive interesting if lessxtensive treatment such as George Parr and Frank HamerCaro also continuously provides the reader with nough context perspective and imagery that it is difficult to read this text and not imagine being at the scene of nearly very moment he describesBut this biography also possesses its share of blemishes It often resembles a skilled prosecutor s most zealous and unrelenting case against LBJ s admittedly numerous and disturbing personality defects Where the first volume systematically develops a case against LBJ this volume feels like a blistering non stop critiue of nearly The Peculiar Pig every aspect of his characterCaro often but not always provides convincingvidence to support his portrayal of LBJ but he freuently fails to include Cherry Ingram evidence that could soften the sharpdges of that portrait Oral testimony solicited decades after an The Mermaids Shoes event is regularly used to condemn Johnson but I cannot remember a single instance of testimony being used in his defenseAnd in the process of highlighting the darkest threads of Johnson s character during his 1948 Senate bid Carolevates Coke Stevenson to lofty heights which most Texas historians probably wouldn t recognize Every villain it seems reuires a hero And if Johnson is in the Untameable Rogue (Bennett eyes of some this volume s controversial antagonist Stevenson is its strangely flawless luminaryOverall Means of Ascent is a commendable successor to The Path to Power though not uite itsual Due to its relatively narrow scope it offers fewer piercing revelations about Johnson than the first volume but does an admirable job bridging two The McKettrick Way (McKettricks, extremely conseuential periods in his life Most importantly however Means of Ascent leaves the reader deeplymbedded in Johnson s life fully Midsummer Masque engrossed in Caro s series andager to tackle the next volumeOverall rating 4 stars Pamela Paul Maybe This Time (Belonging editor of the NYT Book review gave me the idea to completely read The Years of Lyndon Johnson I am reading them slowly mostly at night or in the morning after night shift before I go to sleep This shortish volume took 4 months and I have the next one ready to go I am loving them not only for the deep dive into the life of this morally challenged small town Texan who became President but for thexplanation of the machinations that guided mid 20th century politics Robert Caro is an amazing researcher and writer who makes you want to read his detailed lengthy volumes Effetto domino even knowing how theynd I know perfectly well how Lyndon Johnson s life turned out yet I was urgently turning the pages as his 1948 run for the Senate played out its sordid finish in this second volume of Robert Caro s monumental biography A biography researched and documented yes but a narrative stranger than fiction Means of Ascent covers seven years of Johnson s life comprising his brief and greatly aggrandized career in the Navy in World War II and the beginnings of his considerable fortune through ownership of Austin radio station KTBC which was held in his wife s name but closely monitored by Johnson and benefitting from his useful contacts in and out of governmentBut the second half of the book is the dramatic heart of this book which is considerably shorter than his other volumes just over 400 pages Caro wisely chose to The Midwifes Miracle Baby end the installment with Johnson s accession to the Senate and future volumes will turn to his powerful Washington careerBut how he got there The mendacity of the 1948 Johnsonffort is the story of vote buying ballot box stuffing and courtroom theatrics But the campaign was also a study in Mendozas Miracle electioneering styles LBJ needled and goaded but his opponent the popular former governor Coke Stevenson never revealed a platform nor responded to the obvious lies LBJ was telling He simply said he d keep taxes down and uphold the constitution he refused to dignify the charges Johnson was bringing by responding to them It was a mistake and his old fashioned campaign style allowed Johnson to make dramatic inroads into Stevenson s considerable lead with votersThe final gap in votes was covered by the people who controlled the voting in the valley south of San Antonio The Mexican American residents in Duval and Jim Wells counties rarely cast their own votes but this time their votes were cast overwhelmingly for Johnson and reported six days after thelection The resulting challenges and courtroom dramas finally put Johnson into his Senate seat with a margin of 87 votes The infamous ballot box 13 from Jim Wells County went missing and poll results went missingCaro s preface to Means of Ascent makes reference to the The Millionaires Mistress Bundle extraordinary civil rights triumphs of the 1960s surely to acknowledge what many people believe to be Johnson s most important legacy But that is in the future and how Johnson achieved his toehold is a story for the ages Caro the historian digs and unearths then Caro the storyteller grabs the reader and won t let go What was I thinking I have readvery word Caro has written but I had imagined I could skip this one because nothing really happened and I d already read the over 200o pages of the Johnson series But I had forgotten why I had been reading them in the first place It wasn t about plot or to find out what happened or didn t happen to Johnson It was to read Caro write Duh The man is the best writer I ve Miami Menage ever read and I have fully atoned for myrror in believing that it was a good idea to skip a book In fact I was so parched for Caro that I read the introduction to this book 3 times just to relish the brilliance of the master It is an utter delight to read about Johnson s corruption in this narrative It is not just about the man but it is about politics human nature and American history Bravo May he live to finish the series In reading Caro s second volume of the LBJ biography series I was completely blown away While some call it the lesser Miss Westons Masquerade exciting of Caro s first two volumes depicting LBJ s Texas life andarly congressional years I felt that it helped shape the image of the president I knew from the history books Means of Ascent is by no means a shrinking violet in the literary world though its action does perhaps pale when placed against its older sibling Path to Power Still Caro brings to life those years that bridge the lead up to his arrival on Capitol Hill and his arrival in the Senate where he made a national name for himself From falsified war stories to his campaign and complete robbery of the 1948 Democratic primary for the US Senate And here I thought Dewey wins was the 1 story in the 1948 The Millionaires Proposal election cycleCaro pulls no punches appearing to side only with the truth and that which the record reflects rather than cozying up to the famed LBJ We learn a great deal about the chain smoking ill tempered LBJ as the story progresses from his arrival on the scene as a congressman and his failed attempt at the Senate in 1941 The reader will than likely not leave this volume with a strong feeling that the hometown son will vanuish his foesWhat stunned me most in this volume perhaps in thentire biography up to this point is the story read saga surrounding the 1948 US Senate Michael (New Orleans Knights election and LBJ s attempts to and success at steal the Democratic primary by any means necessary Caro makes thislection campaign the poignant part of this volume spending a great deal of time on the issue and looking at it both in depth and from a variety of perspectives Not being American Robert A Caro's life of Lyndon Johnson which began with the greatly acclaimed The Path to Power also winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award continues one of the richest most intensive and most revealing Memoirs of a Millionaires Mistress examinationsver undertaken of an American President In Means of Ascent the Pulitzer Prize winning biographerhistorian chronicler
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Served The Mistletoe Melody (A Brookhollow Story, even handed treatment than he gets from Caro on this subjectUltimately the only thing that seems perfectly clear in all of this is that politics in Texas in the late 1940s was a cesspool and that anyone who wanted to play the game had to dive into it As Caro makes very clear certainly fraudulent votes were added to Johnson s total As he is less willing to admit fraudulent votes also inflated Stevenson s totals and it s impossible to know which of the candidates might have won anlection conducted along the lines of the aforementioned civics lessonPerhaps the last word in all of this might best go to former Austin mayor and Johnson supporter Tom Miller who later said They were stealin votes in Sid and Sam east Texas We were stealin votes in south Texas Only Jesus Christ could say who actually won it Only 488 prior reviews of the second volume of Caro s LBJ bio The major details of this relatively slim book in comparison to the other 3 volumes have been hashed and rehashed I m hoping to craft an arresting and apposite summation worthy to stand beside the many great reviews preceding me Not sure I have the chops to do it but what the hellInded up liking this book a bit Screwball even than Caro s first volume The Path to Power In this second volume Caro really seemed to hit his stride as a writer This book describes a period of forced uiescence in Johnson s life his so called Wilderness Years and I have the attention span of a gnat so by rights this book should have supplanted my nightly Ambien as a soporific Instead due to Caro s magnificent writing and ability to craft a story line there were some nights this book defeated my sleeping pill and kept me riveted It is rud that many peoplespecially celebrities do or say strange things while on Ambien so if I interject any inappropriate remarks please realize my review notes were scribbled at times in an Ambien haze when I was non compos mentisIn Means of Ascent Caro begins by rehashing a bit of the info he presented in volume I thus nsuring a smooth transition and providing a bit of background for contrarians who insist on reading books out of order The gist of the book can be summed up in a few paragraphs Johnson in a rare political blunder was outfoxed by his opponent in his 1941 US Senate campaign This was done by Johnson being confident of victory releasing his vote tally arly on the The Outlaw Jesse James eve of thelection thus giving his opponent Texas governor W Lee Pappy O Daniel the opportunity to steal the Up All Night election via payoffs to party bosses who controlled huge blocks of minority votersspecially in South Texas an area with a huge Mexican American population Johnson was shamed that his opponent had stolen the The Spiral Dance election from him but he was still a US Congressman and had to campaign for that office Additionally the senatelection in 1941 was to fill a vacant position and there would be another senate The Erotic Mind election in July of 1942 and Johnson was confident he could win thislection and redeem himself This redemption was nixed however when President Roosevelt backed another candidate who had already been slotted for the senate seat in the 1942 Dancing at Midnight (The Splendid Trilogy, election Despite his loss and stymied senate run LBJ continued tonjoy the special attention from President Roosevelt Johnson resumed an active social life in Washington and was a popular host at parties he would hold for friends and acuaintances One acuaintance future US Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas was to play an important role both later in this book and throughout Johnson s life as a friendconsigliere LBJ s contact with the White House is finally kaput in 1945 after Roosevelt s death Former Senator Harry S Truman now President was a keen observer of men One would It Hurts When I Poop! a Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty expect this since inarly life he was a haberdasher a profession reuiring keen observation skills He Here With Me (Together easily sees through Johnson s persiflage and false bonhomie and Johnson s access to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is abruptly curtailedDuring Johnson s failed 1941 Senate campaign when it seemed likely that the US would be drawn into the warnsuing in Europe and other locales LBJ had made an adamant campaign promise that should his fellow Texans be called to serve he would be right there in the trenches fighting with them after vacating his Senate seat Johnson fulfills this promise after the outbreak of WW II Most of his brief stint in uniform is spent touring bases on the US West coast He finally finagles a trip to Australia where he joins a B 26 bombing team on a bombing run to a Japanese air base at Lae on the island of New Guinea Johnson does see action as the plane he is riding in his hit and unable to complete the mission and returns to base being pursued by Japanese fighter planes Johnson s plane takes many hits and he reportedly keeps his composure while watching the firefight from a position behind the cockpitJohnson returns to Washington where this story is Double Deception (Code Name: Danger embellished withach retelling Interestingly Johns A platform he said in his dry way was like a Mother Hubbard dress it covered Wicked Lies (Men of Summer, everything and touched nothing Platforms and campaign promises were meaningless politicians issued them or made them and then as soon as they werelected forgot them Robert A Caro Means of Ascent uoting Coke Stephenson This was a different book from Caro s Vol 1 of the Years of Lyndon Johnson The Path to Power The Path to Power detailed the rise and Grave Tattoo early history of LBJ It set the table It showed LBJ as a boy showed the Hill Country It described his father so much of LBJ can bexplained by his complicated relationship to his father It moved through LBJ s college career Georgia and the Tycoon early political connections and how all the attributes that made LBJ who he was were formed Itnded as LBJ lost the 1941 Churchills Trial election for the US Senate to W Lee O Daniel He basically had thelection out stolen from him He lost focus too soon This book starts off with LBJ s brief stint in the Navy after Pearl Harbor his attempt and failure to move up in DC with FDR with Truman in congress with the Party He was stuck So it moves on to LBJ using the power he had to buy a radio station in Austin One that would later be the source of his and Lady Bird s normous wealth it is amazing how many of our politicos nter DC rich and leave uite rich The last half of the book details the 1948 Senate Lakeside Redemption election when LBJ ran against Coke Stephenson for the Texas Senate seat At this point it becomes almost a dual biography One of opposites Coke was old school honest thoughtful popular low key In many ways he resembled LBJ s father Caro never said it directly but in many ways he didn t need to LBJ s character was formed as a reaction to his father s unwillingness to get into the gutter LBJ was allnds He would use whatever MEANS were reuired And in 1948 that meant MONEY and corruption Anyway it was hard to decide to give this 5 stars It wasn t as impressive a book in some ways as Vol 1 However it was beautiful I loved reading about Coke Coke was a good counterbalance to LBJ s style But it is hard too not to admire LBJ s work In Pursuit of a Princess ethic and his ability to takenormous risks and sometimes his brilliant ability to read and use peopleThe book is also a lesson on how we are also suckered by the Second Time Loving exact things we think we want badly I m pretty sure the men who boughtbrought LBJ into office certainly loved some of the things he did but I m not sure they wouldver have thought their Man would ventually pass the Civil Rights Act and much of his great society agenda Eventually many would come to regret their man LBJ was never anyone s man To say that Means of Ascent does not reach the towering heights of Caro s first volume of his Years of Lyndon Johnson is no slight Path to Power is one of the greatest feats of biography I ve ver read The only reason Means falls short is because it happens to dwell on LBJ s wilderness years This was the time between his first failed senate run during a special Dark Awakening election and his second successful senate run which culminated in the famed 87 votes that changed America During these 7 years LBJ the ambitious over weaning butt kissing glad handing lying cajoling cheating adulterous power seeker was backed into a corner His flamboyant traits were diminished as he came up against an imposing barrier the seniority rules of the House of Representatives LBJ as one of 435 members of the US House was neutered His 11 year career was inauspicious and to put it bluntly a little depressing He made no speeches asked no uestions introduced only 7 bills of which only 2 became law He spent a little time grabbing for money through a radio station he owned but other than this secondary ambition to be rich he mostly stewed in the belief that he would die before gaining his ultimate goal to be president Means lacks the first volume s great arc from Hill County bumpkin to Roosevelt favorite It also lacks the great side story of Alice Glass and Charles Marsh as LBJ sacrificed the great love of his life to his all consuming drive for the White House Means also drips with Caro s disgust for this version of LBJ It is almost unconcealed and seldom softened LBJ is not only crass and unscrupled but what is worse he has no moral compass No beliefs Caro paints him as the ultimate chameleon However as Caro notes in his forward to volume 3 LBJ was shifting throughout his life in order to gain power The great uestion then was what he would do with that power once gained It is how LBJ finally used his capital that ultimately proves the measure of this man it is this story that awaits the further volumes Means has much to offer As in volume 1 when Caro raised Sam Rayburn to mythic status a different hero is presented to stand athwart and in constrast to LBJ This is Coke Stevenson whom Caro flirting with demagoguery calls a legend Stevenson comes off as almost impossibly good However his story is incredibly touching and Caro never fails to deliver the humanlements In all his books he manages to delve into the personal details that drove the great men and women of our times He wrote beautifully of Sam Rayburn s loneliness and shyness in volume 1 here he gives us Coke the self made man honorable and tough who studied late into the night by light of candle Coke who lost his first wife and late in life found love once again Coke who didn t know how to steal an Hawks Way (Hawks Way election Caro has a way of shaping history to suit his narrative which is bothnjoyable to read and capable of stretching reality Coke is positioned as the Family Men exact opposite of the venal sneaky LBJ In the 48lection LBJ runs for the senate against Coke LBJ pulls out all the stops He gets in his bubble helicopter and flies around Texas He makes speeches and shakes hands till his voice is gone and his hands are bleeding He campaigns till Creative Participation exhaustion Then when that isn tnough he cheats It is this section of the book that is most Sabina Spielrein enlightening Caro proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that LBJ with the help of border boss George Parr out and out stole the senatelection It s a fascinating tail filled with desperadoes and bandits and shady suint Cognitive Radio Networks eyed men doing business in the shadows the business being the buying and selling of Mexican American votes There isven a cameo by future Supreme Court jurist Abe Fortas who stops a federal judge from opening contested ballot boxes The Personnel Management in Government end result of course is that LBJ gets to the senate The booknds appropriately nough with Coke Stevenson retiring nobly to his ranch with his new love to fade into history We are left with an image of LBJ as Caro frankly says an immoral man and Coke as an honorable Man of the West I thought this book was xcellent but I have to add an addendum thank God LBJ stole that The Time It Never Rained election History may show that Coke never stole anlection but it also shows and Caro FAILS to mention that he didn t care one whit for blacks It was LBJ at the The Child of the Soul and Other Stories end of the day who took a lifetime s worth of accumulated power and spent it on the Great Society a package of program that did for civil rights than anyvent in history short of Lee s surrender at Appomattox History is funny that way it offers redemption at very turn. Rumor which Johnson had to win or face certain political death and which he did win by the 87 votes that changed history 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 lectronic dazz.
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Was not as aware of his moment is history as some may be and it seems the US media really picked up on it after LBJ s death in 1973 but the 87 votes that changed the world really is a key vent in both the progression of this biography and the life of LBJ For as it is said many times had he lost and actually been declared the loser his limelight would surely have burnt out and left others to fill the void It was with this victory that his way to greatness and infamy on the national political scene was pavedI cannot xpress how impressed I am with this book and the progression of this series As I The Soviet Union enter the third book longest and probably the most powerful as wexamine LBJ in the Senate I cannot wait to see what Caro reveals and what history has to say about this powerful man who will do anything to get what he wants This is the second volume of four thus far in Robert Caro s magisterial biography of former president Lyndon B Johnson It treats the period from mid 1941 when Johnson lost a special Gods and Heroes election for the US Senate through 1948 when Johnson wonlection to the Senate in a hotly contested and heatedly disputed primary Science, Technology and Culture election Johnson was crushed by his loss in 1941 and believed that thelection had been stolen from him by an opponent who was clever than he He vowed it would never happen again Months after that defeat Johnson was still a sitting congressmen when World War II began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor In campaigning for the Senate in 1941 Johnson had promised Texas voters that if he voted to send their sons to war he would leave the Senate and be out in the trenches with them Once war was declared Johnson thus found himself in a bind because he had absolutely no interest in being in the trenches or anywhere No Beast So Fierce else other than in the Congress As means of finessing the situation Johnson reuested a leave from the Congress He hadarlier nrolled as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve and now left the Congress to go on active duty in California and lsewhere far from any fightingJohnson knew though that his political career would be imperiled if he did not see some action Last Chance Bride especially in light of the promise he had made Thus he ultimately arranged to get to Australia and then to go on a single combat mission as an observer not as a combatant flying on a B 26 bomber The bomber came undernemy fire from Japanese Zeros but returned safely to its base Another bomber in the flight was shot downHaving seen this action Johnson returned home and fairly uickly thereafter to his duties in the House of Representatives But in the years following he continued to Whos Cheatin Who? (Thoroughbred Legacy embellish the story of his combatxperience until it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the action that had actually occurred Johnson also managed to win a Silver Cross simply for being a passenger on a plane that had come under Lawman Lover (Outlaws, enemy fire and he wore it proudly for years thereafter as he boasted of his heroic wartime actionsHaving disposed of Johnson s war record Caro then goes on to recount how Johnsonstablished the foundation of the fortune he would accumulate in the coming years by taking over a small struggling radio station The station and the others to follow were technically owned by Johnson s wife Lady Bird and Johnson always insisted that the radio City Girl in Training empire was hers alone and that he had nothing to do with it Caro uickly demolishes that story as well and demonstrates that Johnson was actively involved in the radio business from the start and strongly suggests that Johnson perhaps improperly used his political influence to grow his fortune in this regardCaro devotes the bulk of the book though to Johnson s secondffort to win lection to the Senate this in 1948 It s not a pretty picture and resembles nothing remotely approaching the innocent picture of democracy in action that we all learned in grade school civics classes In a nutshell Caro believes that this lection was make or break for Lyndon Johnson He had to give up his congressional seat in order to run for the Senate and Caro argues that if Johnson had lost the Dangerous Waters (Cold Case Files election his career in politics would have been finished That point is arguable though Johnson was still a relatively young man in 1948 and certainly had he wanted to he could have pursued other political options Caro is also convinced that Johnson blatantly stole thelection and does The Husband (Smytheshire, Massachusetts, everything he can to marshal thevidence in favor of his case while ignoring anything that might argue against it Caro says that he initially intended to cover the lection in only a single chapter but he was apparently so incensed by the story that instead he devoted three uarters of this volume to itAs is the case with his other books Caro has done prodigious research into the topic The problem it seems to me lies in the way he has used that research For xample much of the book rests on oral interviews One gets the impression that Caro must have talked to anyone who An Italian Education everven passed Johnson on the street from the time Johnson was born until the day he diedThe problem though is that Caro seems all too willing to take at face value any criticism that anyone has to offer of Johnson If on the other hand someone might say something nice about the man Caro often stops to present a counter argument suggesting that the compliment perhaps was not deserved The over arching problem of Caro s treatment of the Protecting the Colton Bride Coltons Cowboy Code election though is that he sees this as a contest of black and white good versusvil virtue against vice with no middle ground apparently possible Johnson is clearly the guy in the black hat and his principal opponent Coke Stevenson is crowned with the white hatGiven the nature of Texas politics in the late 1940s winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to winning the Look-Alike Lawman (Texas Twins, election Several candidates ran for the Senate seat in the primary with Stevenson leading the pack and Johnson coming in second But Stevenson did not win a majority of the vote and so had to face Johnson in a runofflection In the second Daddy Wanted election Johnsonmerged the winner by a scant total of Forbidden Stranger eighty seven votes Caro argues that the outcome was the result of unprecedentedlectoral fraud never before seen Snowy River Man even in TexasIn order to make Johnson appear as crooked as possible Caro resorts to turning his opponent Coke Stevenson into a sainted hero of the Old West a man of the people humble wise simple and honest beyond reproach He waxes on at length about Stevenson s virtues noting at one point that He loved the law that he had taught himself on the ranch loved it as he loved his land loved it with an intensity so deep it was almost religious believed in its majesty its power to right a wrongThe only problem with Caro s depiction of Stevenson is that few if any other historians would recognize it The Coke Stevenson described by many other observers was a small minded reactionary an advocate of states rights who distrusted government the federal government in particular an isolationist and a racist as well As governor of Texas Stevenson had slashed spending for social services He was very critical of a Supreme Court decision in 1944 thatxpanded black voting rights in Texas and said regarding a lynching in Texarkana that certain members of the Negro race from time to time furnish the setting for mob violence by the outrageous crimes which they commit Ol Coke was a bit generous toward Mexicans noting that Meskins is pretty good folks If it was niggers it d be different But this is a far cry from the Stevenson that Caro portrays and when challenged on this score Caro insists that the portrait of Stevenson that others now take as gospel results from the fact that they are perpetuating the lies that Johnson and his supporters spread about Stevenson during the Night Moves (Harlequin Blaze election But these kinds of criticisms had been made of Stevenson long before 1948 as had allegations that he was in bed with the oil interests though this is hardly a uniue charge in Texas politics Well before 1948 Stevenson hadarned the nickname Calculatin Coke which was not always intended as a complimentCaro does admit almost grudgingly that Johnson displayed great leadership skills as he marshaled his forces during the Les brumes d'avalon : roman election contest that he raised huge sums of money to finance his campaign that he worked himself to the bone and that he conducted what would become the first modern political campaign in Texas historyStevenson campaigned in the old fashioned way driving around Texas talking to voters wherever he could find them in a very low keyedffort Johnson on the other hand barnstormed the state in helicopters using advance me to line up crowds and making heavy use of radio newspapers and other media Irrespective of who should have won the Malakai (Wicked Games, electionven Caro is forced to admit that Johnson out worked out thought and ultimately out maneuvered Stevenson But it s almost as if Caro thinks that Johnson wasn t being fair to the old boy that instead of flying around the state meeting as many voters as he possibly could Johnson should have been knocking around Texas in an old beater pickup talking to people one at a time as a show of deference to his older opponentIn the The Carpenters Wife and Heart of Stone end in Caro s view the runofflection was decided by several thousand votes that were manipulated in Johnson s favor in a few south Texas counties principally Duval which was under the firm control of political boss George Parr the Duke of Duval A common tactic in Texas Celtic Fire (Rogue Angel, elections at the time was for candidates to withhold votes from counties they controlled and then report them as needed correcting and updating the totals often for several days after thelection was supposedly over as they watched the votes reported from areas that favored their opponents Parr was a master at this tactic and the precincts under his thumb very often produced huge lopsided vote totals for the candidates that Parr favoredIn this case Parr favored Johnson and at the very last moment when the The Family Plan election seemed clearly decided in Stevenson s favor Duval County reported 202 new votes 200 for Johnson and 2 for Stevenson This flipped thelection in Johnson s favor by 87 votes a total that withstood challenges in several arenas and which A Family Practice earned Johnson the nickname Landslide LyndonNaturally Stevenson and Caro screamed Fraud Both claim that thelection was stolen from the rightful winner One would A Doctor in Her Stocking (From Here to Maternity expect this from Stevenson but one would alsoxpect a dispassionate argument from an allegedly neutral historian The problem with Caro s account is that he focuses Celebrity Bachelor exclusively on thelectoral manipulations perpetrated by the Johnson camp and totally ignores the claims of fraud that were made against Stevenson by Johnson and others Certainly Stevenson s supporters were manipulating votes as well correcting and updating their totals for several days just as the Johnson camp was doingMoreover Caro leaves the reader with the impression that Parr the Duke of Duval was clearly in Johnson s pocket Others though have argued that the only political fortunes that Parr was concerned with were his own He backed the candidate that he though would most benefit his own interests and in this case that candidate was JohnsonCaro also neglects to mention that previously the Duke s candidate had been Coke Stevenson In the three For Better and Worse elections prior to 1948 Parr had furnished votes out of Duval County favoring Stevenson over his opponents by 3643 to 141 2936 to 77 and 3310 to 17 Ironically Stevenson did not consider these returns to be suspicious and not surprisingly he did not challenge themBut in his last term as governor Stevenson took actions that angered Parr and the Duke took his revenge in 1948 by delivering similarly lopsided margins to Johnson Suddenly now the vote totals out of Duval County did seem suspect to Stevenson and he screamed bloody murder but to no avail Robert Caro continues to scream bloody murder on Stevenson s behalf but his argument rings a bit false because of the way in which Caro has chosen to use thevidence he has collected I ve never been a fan of Lyndon Johnson but you hardly have to love the guy to think that he de. Lso of Robert Moses in The Power Broker carries Johnson through his service in World War II and the foundation of his long concealed fortune and the facts behind the myths he created about it But the Cassidys Kids (Maitland Maternity, explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatoriallection for forty years shrouded in.
A former investigative reporter for Newsday Robert Caro is the author of The Power Broker 1974 a biography of the urban planner Robert Moses which he won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize President Obama said that he read the biography when he was 22 years old and that the book mesmerized him Obama said I'm sure it helped to shape how I think about politicsCaro has also written four biographies