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Master of the Senate

Click this cover for a(n) Audiobook sample of Master of the Senate.

Master of the Senate

The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
Caro's third volume in his series on the life of Lyndon Johnson is as riveting as its predecessors; the series comprises the most admired and compelling political biography of our era. At the heart of...
Caro's third volume in his series on the life of Lyndon Johnson is as riveting as its predecessors; the series comprises the most admired and compelling political biography of our era. At the heart of...
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  • Caro's third volume in his series on the life of Lyndon Johnson is as riveting as its predecessors; the series comprises the most admired and compelling political biography of our era. At the heart of the book is its unprecedented revelation of how legislative power works, how the U.S. Senate works, how Lyndon Johnson on his way to the presidency mastered both, and how he used his power to break Southern control of Capitol Hill and to pass the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. Interweaving his narrative with a brilliantly astute and concise history of the Senate, Caro shows how political initiatives triumph or fail, and how political genius functions.

    Pulitzer Prize

    A Notable Book for Adults (American Library Association)

    National Book Award

 
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    Chapter 1

    The Desks of the Senate The Chamber of the United States Senate was a long, cavernous space--over a hundred feet long. From its upper portion, from the galleries for citizens and journalists which rimmed it, it seemed even longer than it was, in part because it was so gloomy and dim--so dim in 1949, when lights had not yet been added for television and the only illumination came from the ceiling almost forty feet above the floor, that its far end faded away in shadows--and in part because it was so pallid and bare. Its drab tan damask walls, divided into panels by tall columns and pilasters and by seven sets of double doors, were unrelieved by even a single touch of color--no painting, no mural--or, seemingly, by any other ornament. Above those walls, in the galleries, were rows of seats as utilitarian as those of a theater and covered in a dingy gray, and the features of the twenty white marble busts of the country's first twenty vice presidents, set into niches above the galleries, were shadowy and blurred. The marble of the pilasters and columns was a dull reddish gray in the gloom. The only spots of brightness in the Chamber were the few tangled red and white stripes on the flag that hung limply from a pole on the presiding officer's dais, and the reflection of the ceiling lights on the tops of the ninety-six mahogany desks arranged in four long half circles around the well below the dais. From the galleries the low red-gray marble dais was plain and unimposing, apparently without decoration. The desks themselves, small and spindly, seemed more like schoolchildren's desks than the desks of senators of the United States, mightiest of republics.

    When a person stood on the floor of the Senate Chamber, however--in the well below the dais--the dais was, suddenly, not plain at all. Up close, its marble was a deep, dark red lushly veined with grays and greens, and set into it, almost invisible from the galleries, but, up close, richly glinting, were two bronze laurel wreaths, like the wreaths that the Senate of Rome bestowed on generals with whom it was pleased, when Rome ruled the known world--and the Senate ruled Rome. From the well, the columns and pilasters behind the dais were, suddenly, tall and stately and topped with scrolls, like the columns of the Roman Senate's chamber, the columns before which Cato spoke and Caesar fell, and above the columns, carved in cream-colored marble, were eagles, for Rome's legions marched behind eagles. From the well, there was, embroidered onto each pale damask panel, an ornament in the same pale color and all but invisible from above--a shield--and there were cream-colored marble shields, and swords and arrows, above the doors. And the doors--those seven pairs of double doors, each flanked by its tall columns and pilasters--were tall, too, and their grillwork, hardly noticeable from above, was intricate and made of beaten bronze, and it was framed by heavy, squared bronze coils. The vice presidential busts were, all at once, very high above you; set into deep, arched niches, flanked by massive bronze sconces, their marble faces, thoughtful, stern, encircled the Chamber like a somber evocation of the Republic's glorious past. And, rising from the well, there were the desks.

    The desks of the Senate rise in four shallow tiers, one above the other, in a deep half circle. Small and spindly individually, from the well they blend together so that with their smooth, burnished mahogany tops reflecting even the dim lights in the ceiling so far above them, they form four sweeping, glowing arcs. To stand in the well of the Senate is to stand among these four long arcs that rise around and above you, that stretch away...

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The massive third volume of Caro's massive life of Lyndon Baines Johnson focuses on the 12 years (1948-1960) during which LBJ was a member of the U.S. Senate. It reveals his "take-no-prisoners" drive to power, as well as his ability to manage a previously unmanageable institution. Caro includes lots of Senate history and lots of information covered in his previous books on Johnson. In audio format, the book's redundancy can be frustrating, as it is hard to skip text and read ahead. Grover Gardner's narration is a straightforward rendition of the text. The drama--and there is much drama in the events chronicled--is carried by the words, not the voice. While some listeners might want more verbal dramatics, this reviewer found the neutral reading easy to listen to and appropriate. R.E.K. (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine
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Master of the Senate
Master of the Senate
The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
Robert A. Caro
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The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
Robert A. Caro
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