i have written before about how important it is to read the Caro bio of LBJ. Start with the first volume. It is a riveting portrait of ambition, America in middle part of the 20th century, politics, and a human being, LBJ, who is unforgettable. The second volume is extraordinary as well. I’m part way through the third volume. It is less interesting. But the first two are unbelievably great. After reading it them I realized that if it came out that LBJ had been behind the murder of JFK, I’d have shrugged and seen it as only a little outside the norm for LBJ’s ambition. That’s how venal and frightening he is. Turns out, I’m not alone in imagining the possibility. It also crossed the mind of Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s secretary.
The Caro project on LBJ is going on three decades, over 2000 pages and only gets to 1958. For most American’s LBJ is only significant starting on November 22, 1963. Now comes news that Caro will soon release the fourth volume in the series. Evidently it will only go until Johnson’s early time as President but will not include much on Vietnam. The rest of LBJ’s life will be in the fifth volume. Or sixth. Who knows? Here’s hoping that Caro lives to see the project through.
If you want to know what a charming man he was once he was president, check out this reminiscence from a meeting with the Joint Chiefs in 1965. (HT: Rod McFadden). Chilling.