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The Power Broker

56 ratings

Summary

Everywhere acknowledged as a modern American classic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and chosen by the Modern Library as one of the hundred greatest books of the 20th century, The Power Broker is a galvanizing biography revealing not only the saga of one man's incredible accumulation of power, but the story of the shaping (and mis-shaping) of New York in the 20th century.

Robert Caro's monumental book makes public what few outsiders knew: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of his time in the City and in the State of New York. And in telling the Moses story, Caro both opens up to an unprecedented degree the way in which politics really happens - the way things really get done in America's city halls and statehouses - and brings to light a bonanza of vital information about such national figures as Alfred E. Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt (and the genesis of their blood feud), about Fiorello La Guardia, John V. Lindsay and Nelson Rockefeller.

But The Power Broker is first and foremost a brilliant multidimensional portrait of a man - an extraordinary man who, denied power within the normal framework of the democratic process, stepped outside that framework to grasp power sufficient to shape a great city and to hold sway over the very texture of millions of lives. We see how Moses began: the handsome, intellectual young heir to the world of Our Crowd, an idealist. How, rebuffed by the entrenched political establishment, he fought for the power to accomplish his ideals. How he first created a miraculous flowering of parks and parkways, playlands and beaches - and then ultimately brought down on the city the smog-choked aridity of our urban landscape, the endless miles of (never sufficient) highway, the hopeless sprawl of Long Island, the massive failures of public housing, and countless other barriers to humane living. How, inevitably, the accumulation of power became an end in itself.

Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He was held in fear - his dossiers could disgorge the dark secrets of anyone who opposed him. He was, he claimed, above politics, above deals; and through decade after decade, the newspapers and the public believed.

Meanwhile, he was developing his public authorities into a fourth branch of government known as "Triborough" - a government whose records were closed to the public, whose policies and plans were decided not by voters or elected officials but solely by Moses - an immense economic force directing pressure on labor unions, on banks, on all the city's political and economic institutions, and on the press, and on the Church. He doled out millions of dollars' worth of legal fees, insurance commissions, lucrative contracts on the basis of who could best pay him back in the only coin he coveted: power. He dominated the politics and politicians of his time - without ever having been elected to any office. He was, in essence, above our democratic system.

Robert Moses held power in the state for 44 years, through the governorships of Smith, Roosevelt, Lehman, Dewey, Harriman, and Rockefeller, and in the city for 34 years, through the mayoralties of La Guardia, O'Dwyer, Impellitteri, Wagner, and Lindsay. He personally conceived and carried through public works costing $27 billion - he was undoubtedly America's greatest builder.

This is how he built and dominated New York - before, finally, he was stripped of his reputation (by the press) and of his power (by Nelson Rockefeller). But his work, and his will, had been done.

©1975 Robert A. Caro (P)2011 Random House Audio

Narrator: Robertson Dean
Length: 66 hrs and 9 mins
Available on Audible
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The Path to Power

32 ratings

Summary

This is the story of the rise to national power of a desperately poor young man from the Texas Hill Country. The Path to Power reveals in extraordinary detail the genesis of the almost superhuman drive, energy, and ambition that set LBJ apart. It follows him from the Hill Country to New Deal Washington, from his boyhood through the years of the Depression to his debut as Congressman, his heartbreaking defeat in his first race for the Senate, and his attainment, nonetheless, at age 31, of the national power for which he hungered. In this book, we are brought as close as we have ever been to a true perception of political genius and the American political process. Means of Ascent, Book Two of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, was a number-one national best seller and, like The Path to Power, received the National Book Critics Circle Award.

©1981, 1982 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 40 hrs and 29 mins
Available on Audible
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Means of Ascent

20 ratings

Summary

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 examinations ever undertaken of an American President. In Means of Ascent, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer/historian, chronicler also 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 explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election, for 40 years shrouded in 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 electronic dazzle.

©1990 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 22 hrs and 8 mins
Available on Audible
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The Passage of Power

18 ratings

Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award, Biography, 2013 The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark. For the first time, we see the Kennedy assassination through Lyndon Johnson’s eyes. We watch Johnson step into the presidency, inheriting a staff fiercely loyal to his slain predecessor; a Congress determined to retain its power over the executive branch; and a nation in shock and mourning. We see how within weeks - grasping the reins of the presidency with supreme mastery - he propels through Congress essential legislation that at the time of Kennedy’s death seemed hopelessly logjammed and seizes on a dormant Kennedy program to create the revolutionary War on Poverty. Caro makes clear how the political genius with which Johnson had ruled the Senate now enabled him to make the presidency wholly his own. This was without doubt Johnson’s finest hour, before his aspirations and accomplishments were overshadowed and eroded by the trap of Vietnam. It is an epic story told with a depth of detail possible only through the peerless research that forms the foundation of Robert Caro’s work, confirming Nicholas von Hoffman’s verdict that “Caro has changed the art of political biography.”

©2012 Robert A. Caro (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Category: History, World
Length: 32 hrs and 45 mins
Available on Audible
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Working

14 ratings

Summary

"One of the great reporters of our time and probably the greatest biographer." (The Sunday Times, London)  From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Power Broker and the Years of Lyndon Johnson series: an unprecedented gathering of vivid, candid, deeply revealing recollections about his experiences researching and writing his acclaimed books. For the first time in audiobook form, Robert Caro gives us a glimpse into his own life and work in these evocatively written, personal pieces. He describes what it was like to interview the mighty Robert Moses and to begin discovering the extent of the political power Moses wielded; the combination of discouragement and exhilaration he felt confronting the vast holdings of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas; his encounters with witnesses, including longtime residents wrenchingly displaced by the construction of Moses' Cross-Bronx Expressway and Lady Bird Johnson acknowledging the beauty and influence of one of LBJ's mistresses. He gratefully remembers how, after years of working in solitude, he found a writers' community at the New York Public Library and details the ways he goes about planning and composing his books. Caro recalls the moments at which he came to understand that he wanted to write not just about the men who wielded power, but about the people and the politics that were shaped by that power. And he talks about the importance to him of the writing itself, of how he tries to infuse it with a sense of place and mood to bring characters and situations to life on the page. Taken together, these reminiscences - some previously published, some written expressly for this book - bring into focus the passion, the wry self-deprecation, and the integrity with which this brilliant historian has always approached his work.

©2019 Robert A. Caro (P)2019 Random House Audio

Narrator: Robert A. Caro
Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
Available on Audible
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Master of the Senate

13 ratings

Summary

Master of the Senate, audiobook three of the Years of Lyndon Johnson, carries Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the audiobook is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.  It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience - from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine - came to fruition. Caro introduces the story with a dramatic account of the Senate itself: how Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun had made it the center of governmental energy, the forum in which the great issues of the country were thrashed out. And how, by the time Johnson arrived, it had dwindled into a body that merely responded to executive initiatives, all but impervious to the forces of change.  Caro anatomizes the genius for political strategy and tactics by which, in an institution that had made the seniority system all-powerful for a century and more, Johnson became majority leader after only a single term - the youngest and greatest Senate leader in our history; how he manipulated the Senate’s hallowed rules and customs and the weaknesses and strengths of his colleagues to change the unchangeable Senate from a loose confederation of sovereign senators to a whirring legislative machine under his own iron-fisted control.  Caro demonstrates how Johnson’s political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the Southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust - or at least the cooperation - of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. He shows the dark side of Johnson’s ambition: how he proved his loyalty to the great oil barons who had financed his rise to power by ruthlessly destroying the career of the New Dealer who was in charge of regulating them, Federal Power Commission Chairman Leland Olds. And we watch him achieve the impossible: convincing Southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson’s amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875.    Master of the Senate, told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro’s peerless research, is both a galvanizing portrait of the man himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings and personal and legislative power.

©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 21 hrs and 35 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Master of the Senate

Master of the Senate

12 ratings

Summary

Master of the Senate, audiobook three of the Years of Lyndon Johnson, carries Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the audiobook is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.  It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience - from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine - came to fruition. Caro introduces the story with a dramatic account of the Senate itself: how Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun had made it the center of governmental energy, the forum in which the great issues of the country were thrashed out. And how, by the time Johnson arrived, it had dwindled into a body that merely responded to executive initiatives, all but impervious to the forces of change.  Caro anatomizes the genius for political strategy and tactics by which, in an institution that had made the seniority system all-powerful for a century and more, Johnson became majority leader after only a single term - the youngest and greatest Senate leader in our history; how he manipulated the Senate’s hallowed rules and customs and the weaknesses and strengths of his colleagues to change the unchangeable Senate from a loose confederation of sovereign senators to a whirring legislative machine under his own iron-fisted control.  Caro demonstrates how Johnson’s political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the Southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust - or at least the cooperation - of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. He shows the dark side of Johnson’s ambition: how he proved his loyalty to the great oil barons who had financed his rise to power by ruthlessly destroying the career of the New Dealer who was in charge of regulating them, Federal Power Commission Chairman Leland Olds. And we watch him achieve the impossible: convincing Southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson’s amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875.    Master of the Senate, told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro’s peerless research, is both a galvanizing portrait of the man himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings and personal and legislative power.

©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 18 hrs and 39 mins
Available on Audible
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On Power

10 ratings

Summary

From two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time National Book Award winner Robert A. Caro: a short, penetrating reflection on the evolution and workings of political power - for good and for ill. In On Power, an Audible exclusive, the legendary historian Robert A. Caro reflects on what drew him as a young journalist to study political power and what his half century of reporting on New York City urban planner Robert Moses and President Lyndon Johnson has taught him about the inner workings of government and democracy. Adapted by the author from two recent speeches and filled with thoughtful lessons and personal moments, On Power goes behind the scenes in the author's decades-long quest to understand how power works, often in ways he could have never imagined. Listening to On Power, narrated with emotion and humor by Caro in his unmistakable New York accent, is like having a private audience with the author often hailed as our greatest living historian. Longtime fans of Caro's books, as well as those seeking a more personal introduction to his life and work, will be treated to his trademark wit and revelatory insight. But more than anything, On Power is a timely reminder for those who want to better understand how power and government work. In Caro's words: "Why political power? Because it shapes all of our lives. It shapes your life in ways that you might never think about. Every time a young man goes to college on a federal education bill passed by Lyndon Johnson, that's political power. And so is a young man dying in Vietnam. Every time an elderly person is able to afford an MRI, that's Medicare. That's political power. It affects your life in all sorts of ways. My books are an attempt to explain this power.... Because the more America understands about political power, the better informed our votes will be, and then, hopefully, the better our democracy should be."

©2017 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

Narrator: Robert A. Caro
Length: 1 hr and 42 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Master of the Senate

Master of the Senate

10 ratings

Summary

Master of the Senate, audiobook three of the Years of Lyndon Johnson, carries Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the audiobook is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done.  It was during these years that all Johnson’s experience - from his Texas Hill Country boyhood to his passionate representation in Congress of his hardscrabble constituents to his tireless construction of a political machine - came to fruition. Caro introduces the story with a dramatic account of the Senate itself: how Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun had made it the center of governmental energy, the forum in which the great issues of the country were thrashed out. And how, by the time Johnson arrived, it had dwindled into a body that merely responded to executive initiatives, all but impervious to the forces of change.  Caro anatomizes the genius for political strategy and tactics by which, in an institution that had made the seniority system all-powerful for a century and more, Johnson became majority leader after only a single term - the youngest and greatest Senate leader in our history; how he manipulated the Senate’s hallowed rules and customs and the weaknesses and strengths of his colleagues to change the unchangeable Senate from a loose confederation of sovereign senators to a whirring legislative machine under his own iron-fisted control.  Caro demonstrates how Johnson’s political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the Southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust - or at least the cooperation - of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. He shows the dark side of Johnson’s ambition: how he proved his loyalty to the great oil barons who had financed his rise to power by ruthlessly destroying the career of the New Dealer who was in charge of regulating them, Federal Power Commission Chairman Leland Olds. And we watch him achieve the impossible: convincing Southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights. In a breathtaking tour de force, Caro details Johnson’s amazing triumph in maneuvering to passage the first civil rights legislation since 1875.    Master of the Senate, told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro’s peerless research, is both a galvanizing portrait of the man himself and a definitive and revelatory study of the workings and personal and legislative power.

©2002 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.

Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 16 hrs and 36 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Master of the Senate

Master of the Senate

1 rating

Summary

Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. At the heart of the book is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works in America, how the Senate works, and how Johnson, in his ascent to the presidency, mastered the Senate as no political leader before him had ever done. Caro demonstrates how Johnson's political genius enabled him to reconcile the unreconcilable: to retain the support of the southerners who controlled the Senate while earning the trust - or at least the cooperation - of the liberals, led by Paul Douglas and Hubert Humphrey, without whom he could not achieve his goal of winning the presidency. And we hear him achieve the impossible: convincing southerners that although he was firmly in their camp as the anointed successor to their leader, Richard Russell, it was essential that they allow him to make some progress toward civil rights. Robert A. Caro has won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, as well as two National Book Critics Circle Awards and other honors. Master of the Senate is told with an abundance of rich detail that could only have come from Caro's peerless research.

©2002 Robert A. Caro (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

Narrator: Stephen Lang
Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
Available on Audible
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Come Fly the World

1 rating

Summary

Glamour, danger, liberation: In a Mad Men era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out and wanted up. Required to have a college education, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between five foot three and five foot nine, between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire. Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from small-town girl Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few Black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to light the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war. Finally, with Operation Babylift - the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon - the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage.

©2021 Julia Cooke (P)2021 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Length: 7 hrs and 32 mins
Available on Audible