Bite Size LBJ

“Strong as was Lyndon Johnson’s compassion for the poor, particularly poor people of color, his deep, genuine desire to help them had always been subordinate to his ambition; whenever they had been in conflict, it had been compassion that went to the wall. When they had both been pointing in the same direction, however – when the compassion had been unleashed from ambition’s checkrein – then not only Lyndon Johnson but the cause of social justice in America had moved forward under the direction of this master of transmuting sympathy into governmental action.”

Robert Caro, 2012, The Years of London Johnson, Volume 4: The Passage of Power.

Bite Size LBJ

“Throughout LBJ’s life, in every institution of which he had been a part, a similar pattern had emerged: as he rose to power within the institution, and then, as he consolidated that power, he was humble – deferential, obsequious, in fact. And then, as the power was consolidated, solid, when he was in power and confident of staying there, he became, with dramatic speed and contrast, overbearing, domineering.”

Robert Caro, 2002, The Years of London Johnson, Volume 3: Master of the Senate.

Bite Size LBJ

“The grass had grown not over a season but over centuries. It wouldn’t have grown at all had it not been for fire – prairie fires set by lightning and driven by wind across tens of thousands of acres, and fires set by Indians to stampede game into their ambushes or over cliffs – for fire clears the land of underbrush, relentless enemy of grass. […] Even with the aid of fire, the grass had grown slowly – agonizingly slowly. […] It had grown slowly because the soil beneath it was so thin.”

Robert Caro, 1982, The Years of London Johnson, Volume 1: The Path to Power.


Bite Size Theory: The Passage of Power

“Lyndon Johnson had grasped in an instant what needed to be done with Kennedy’s men and Kennedy’s legislation: his insight into the crisis and the rapidity of his response to it a glimpse of political genius almost shocking in its acuity and decisiveness.”

Robert Caro, 2012, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Volume 4, The Passage of Power, Bodley Head.