In-progress book review
Posted on October 11th, 2012
I’m taking a break from being a misanthropic know-it-all to tell you about the book I’m reading. (I mentioned it before.)
You guys, stop everything you’re doing and start reading. If you have any interest in politics, social programs, Texas, American history, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam — you have to start reading the Caro biography of LBJ.
I’d always been interested in LBJ because how could such a corrupt man enact such good legislation? And Caro takes you along for how this happened, from Johnson’s pretty miserable childhood (due, in large part, to Johnson being a miserable whackjob of a child) to creating his first political machine in college at San Marcos. The fourth volume, of a projected five, came out this year, and it was the David Runciman LRB review of this volume that made me want to read all 3000 pages (!) that have been written so far.
If you liked the House of Cards miniseries, this is the real-life American version. It is fascinating stuff. Johnson was a virtuoso in the use and manipulation of men and how he goes from Hill Country poverty to most powerful man in the world…it is better than fiction.
I think Caro is fair; some people think he has been unduly harsh, painting Johnson as a villain through-and-through, but how else to analyze someone who decided very early on that the only emotion he would allow himself to feel would be ambition? And his every action is taken to further that ambition?
So. Go read it!