Was it ethically acceptable of me to buy Volume I of Robert A Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning 3000-page Lyndon Baines Johnson biography, get bored by page 3, then exchange it for the Justin Timberlake

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There's some kind of arrangement whereby one can exchange an unwanted book for the Justin Timberlake? Wow. Would you just keep him in the cupboard and let him out to entertain guests when you throw a party or something like that?

chap, Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:23 (nine years ago) Permalink

I haven't read the other two volumes.

The only thing I don't know about JT is his foot size.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:24 (nine years ago) Permalink

it is the third most gripping history I have read

What are the first two?

Mr. Goodman, Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:42 (nine years ago) Permalink

soy un mentiroso

remy bean, Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:44 (nine years ago) Permalink

it is the third most gripping history I have read

What are the first two?

-- Mr. Goodman, Friday, February 15, 2008 9:42 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

alley oop for a zing if ever i saw one

deej, Saturday, 16 February 2008 03:46 (nine years ago) Permalink

I'd like to at least read The Power Broker before I die, but it'd probably be foolish of me to even attempt this.

Start it! It's really engaging and hard to put down until like 800 pages in.

C0L1N B..., Saturday, 16 February 2008 18:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

roommate has been chugging through these for the last couple of months

gbx, Saturday, 16 February 2008 18:41 (nine years ago) Permalink

LBJ is my favorite US president to read about. Minus all that "Vietnam" stuff, I genuinely find him to be one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

When is the final Years of LBJ book coming out?

musically, Saturday, 16 February 2008 18:57 (nine years ago) Permalink

LBJ is my favorite US president to read about. Minus all that "Vietnam" stuff, I genuinely find him to be one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

... Yeah, what he said.

Mr. Goodman, Saturday, 16 February 2008 19:03 (nine years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

finished the first volume of this last night and immediately picked up the second one. it is literally an epic. like jd says upthread, caro can be hilariously melodramatic (and repetitive: don't know how many times he uses the phrase "a drive to win, to dominate, to bend others to his will" but it's a lot) but when the work is this big and this detailed and spins out to cover so much of texan+american history 1870(!)--1968 (eventually, maybe, if caro lives; he is the george r r martin of presidential biographers: a joust with johnsons) the heightened tone is excusable. love when it introduces a character and then leaves johnson for ten or twenty or fifty pages to insert a biography-within-a-biography -- long-serving speaker sam rayburn in particular is almost a protagonist in the second half of the first volume, and the details in the huge chapter that introduces him aren't just for detail's sake but get returned to again and again w/r/t his personality's interaction with johnson's -- and love how much it ends up telling you not just about lyndon johnson but about every environment he was ever in: the texas hill country, the d.c. congressional bureaucracy, the implementation end of the new deal, the fdr-era house of reps. (looking forward like crazy to the 1000-page brick about his senate years.) also omg its extended digression about texas governor/senator pappy o'daniel; i didn't know about him at all. so yeah, noted "poptimist" me sez way >>>>>>>> justified.

occupy the A train (difficult listening hour), Thursday, 19 January 2012 18:58 (five years ago) Permalink

He, unlike LBJ, gets more poised and assured with each succeeding volume. By the time you get to Master of the Universe it's a Mann novel.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 19 January 2012 19:00 (five years ago) Permalink

vol. 2's first instance of "not merely to lead but to dominate, to bend others to his will": pg. 22

occupy the A train (difficult listening hour), Friday, 20 January 2012 16:02 (five years ago) Permalink

i didn't realize robert caro had a bio of timberlake out

bene_gesserit, Friday, 20 January 2012 16:16 (five years ago) Permalink

Minus all that "Vietnam" stuff, I genuinely find him to be one of the best presidents this country has ever had.

As Peewee Herman said, everybody's got a big... minus.

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Friday, 20 January 2012 16:25 (five years ago) Permalink

as i said elsewhere johnson comes across as a clinical psychopath in this book

occupy the A train (difficult listening hour), Friday, 20 January 2012 17:29 (five years ago) Permalink

wow, just googled caro to see if there was anything new on the last volume. apparently he's doing FIVE LBJ books now. jesus.


next one due out in may!

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 06:08 (five years ago) Permalink

that is EXCITING NEWS in my household!!

not surprised it's stretching to five volumes; considering what went on w/LBJ in 1964-68 it may become six

anyway, yay

demolition with discretion (m coleman), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 10:26 (five years ago) Permalink

I'd never fit these books into the rest of my allotted lifespan

Dr Morbois de Bologne (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 12:50 (five years ago) Permalink

Bill O'Reilly has signed a deal to write two more books for Henry Holt and Co., publisher of his current best seller Killing Lincoln, the Fox News commentator's first work of history. O'Reilly's already under contract to write a memoir for Holt and Holt publisher Stephen Rubin says one of the two new projects will be a biography of a president-to-be-determined, and promises it will read like "history told in a narrative, novelistic fashion."

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 12:58 (five years ago) Permalink

I read the first volume of this many years ago, thought it was excellent; this reminds me that I need to follow up.

clemenza, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 13:06 (five years ago) Permalink

(LBJ, not Justin Timberlake.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 13:06 (five years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

It's here!.

In his years of working on Johnson, Robert Caro has come to know him better — or to understand him better — than Johnson knew or understood himself. He knows Johnson’s good side and his bad: how he became the youngest Senate majority leader in history and how, by whispering one thing in the ears of the Southern senators and another in Northern ears, he got the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through a Congress that had squelched every civil rights bill since 1875; how he fudged his war record and earned himself a medal by doing nothing more than taking a single plane ride; how, while vice president during the Cuban missile crisis, his hawkishness scared the daylights out of President Kennedy and his brother Robert. Caro has learned about Johnson’s rages, his ruthlessness, his lies, his bribes, his insecurities, his wheedling, his groveling, his bluster, his sycophancy, his charm, his kindness, his streak of compassion, his friends, his enemies, his girlfriends, his gofers and bagmen, his table manners, his drinking habits, even his nickname for his penis: not Johnson, but Jumbo.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 12 April 2012 17:13 (five years ago) Permalink

so excited for this. am only like halfway through vol 3 (got sidetracked by trotsky's caro-length history of the revolution, then by some related stuff and for some reason the magic mountain) but will probably push through this month, to be ready. where is the hbo miniseries.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 14 April 2012 15:47 (five years ago) Permalink

or series, rather. obviously there is nothing mini about this.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Saturday, 14 April 2012 15:48 (five years ago) Permalink

yay! though i'm gonna wait till it comes out in paperback.

kurwa mać (Polish for "long life") (Eisbaer), Saturday, 14 April 2012 17:22 (five years ago) Permalink

that story makes me want to give up on my life so i can become a historian and understand political power

j., Saturday, 14 April 2012 17:40 (five years ago) Permalink

Always wanted to read this and liked how uncompromising he came across but also really offputting how the research and time and willingness to say something in 15 sentences rather than one is put into saying that...power corrupts. Does he really understand political power or is his somewhat romantic conception of it massaged over and over again into 3,000 pages of prose.

Maybe Foucault's ghost could re-write it sometime.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 15 April 2012 09:04 (five years ago) Permalink

in this book johnson is just about exactly as corrupt at age 8 as he is when he's king of the senate, so i don't think that's the moral. plus like the article says half of vol. 2 is about coke stevenson, whom caro (suspiciously, yes) portrays as basically a saint, but a powerful one -- just not as powerful as johnson becomes, probably because the quality that most makes him a saint in caro's eyes is his lack of interest in power. (at the end of the volume, when johnson's successfully stolen the 1948 texas senatorial election from stevenson after a campaign involving helicopters and an insane legal fight that goes on forever, the last we see of stevenson is him standing in a boat drifting down the river on his ranch, opening his arms to embrace the land he owns, a private citizen again, blissful and powerless.) the book's more about where power comes from, both generally and in american republicanism; how you get it; how you hold it; what you can, with sufficient skill and patience, train it to do; the checks and balances both designed and accidental placed on it by various different institutions at various different times; how these are almost all overcome by a guy who Wants To Be President basically from birth and will play totally amoral multi-decade three-dimensional chess to make it happen -- but who is also, despite his lust for ascension and refined talent for manipulation and deceit, driven by a desire to utterly destroy, in america, the poverty he grew up in. he also ends up being the one to finally break jim crow. if the book (so far) has a Theme it's the way johnson's psychopathic power-lust coexists+intertwines with his belief in social justice: dark and light "threads" that both unspool from the same childhood experience of destitute humiliation. if you wanted to get fancy (caro so far thankfully has not) you could say that these same two threads run through america as they run through lbj; run, in both cases, all the way into the vietnamese mud. but you don't need to -- this is just a long story of an interesting guy with a series of interesting jobs.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Sunday, 15 April 2012 15:26 (five years ago) Permalink

(if you rolled your eyes at any of that prose you will roll them out of your head within ten pages of caro, but i do that too. it ends up affectionate.)

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Sunday, 15 April 2012 15:28 (five years ago) Permalink

nah appreciate the explanation and glad that it seems to be going somewhere else than something so simplistic.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 15 April 2012 18:52 (five years ago) Permalink


interesting read from 1999

iatee, Sunday, 15 April 2012 21:26 (five years ago) Permalink

just read that NYTMag piece, I'm amazed he finishes anything.

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Monday, 16 April 2012 02:28 (five years ago) Permalink

Another Caro profile:


the hairy office thing (Eazy), Monday, 16 April 2012 03:18 (five years ago) Permalink

loled at this exchange:

I had talked to Lyndon's relatives and they said everything [in LBJ's preserved boyhood home] was exactly like it was when they grew up. So I got permission to take Sam Houston in there after hours when it was closed and there were no tourists in there. We went in at about five or six o'clock at night. And I had him sit down at the dining room table. It was a plank table, long and thin, just like the original, and Lyndon's father and mother used to sit in chairs at the two ends. There were two plank benches and the three sisters used to sit on one side, and Sam Houston and Lyndon sat on the other. I had him sit in the place in which he had sat when he was a boy. And then I said to him, "Now I want you to tell me about these terrible fights between your father and Lyndon." I wanted to put him back in his boyhood, to make him remember accurately how things had happened. At first this was very slow going. His memories came back very slowly, and there were long pauses between his sentences. I'd have to ask, "Well, then, what would your father say?" And then, "What would Lyndon say?" But gradually the inhibitions fell away, and it was no longer necessary for me to say anything. He started talking faster and faster. And finally he was shouting back and forth-the father, for example, shouting, "Lyndon, God damn it, you're a failure, you'll be a failure all your life." By this time I felt that he was really in the fame of mind to remember accurately, and I said, "Now, Sam Houston, I want you to tell me all the stories about your brother's boyhood that you told me before, the stories that your brother told all those years, only give me more details." There was this long pause. Then he said, "1 can't." I said, "Why not?" And he said, "Because they never happened." And he started talking and basically told me the story of Johnson's youth that is in my first volume. And after that I went back to the other kids, old people by now but then kids, who had been involved in each incident in college or in California or whatever and when I asked them about the incidents that Sam Houston had related, they would say, "Yes, that is what happened and I remember so and so." Everything was confirmed. So when you ask about Lyndon Johnson, and whether I like him or dislike him, that doesn't even compute in my feeling. I felt I had come to understand him. And, understanding him, I came to feel very sorry for him. He was so ashamed of his background and there was no reason to be. He was so ashamed that he made up a whole myth about his youth.

I was wondering if devoting so much of your life to other people's lives has done anything to your mind?

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Monday, 16 April 2012 07:47 (five years ago) Permalink

That Esquire profile is remarkable.

And I have been called "The Appetite" (DL), Monday, 16 April 2012 10:53 (five years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...


Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 30 April 2012 12:20 (five years ago) Permalink

Chapter 2 - The Rich Man's Son - on Kennedy pretty great. Love how Caro does these little min-biographies on the other major characters in the story.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Thursday, 3 May 2012 16:06 (five years ago) Permalink

huh, it's coming out a whole month later over here

thomp, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:17 (five years ago) Permalink

i've read none of these books, but i want to

markers, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:18 (five years ago) Permalink

i didn't look at the byline on that nyt thing so i was thinking 'why does this guy think this book review is about him so much' and then i got to

Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States.

thomp, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:20 (five years ago) Permalink

i've been meaning to read these for ages. pre-ordered the new one. figured i care about this stuff more than his stealing his high school elections.

thomp, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:21 (five years ago) Permalink


markers, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:25 (five years ago) Permalink

nah the college years stuff in the 1st one is awesome, he's like scamming highly sought-after campus jobs for his cronies and undermining his enemies in pointlessly spectacular fashion. at a tiny teacher's college in nowhere, texas. good shit.

adam, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:29 (five years ago) Permalink

oh it sounds fascinating! but if i only get around to spending five hours reading one doorstop about lbj i feel like i ought to learn about the civil rights act instead, y'know?

thomp, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:30 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, the college stuff is great, plus 1 has insane coen-inspiring radio flour salesman and charlatan texas governor pappy o'daniel; it's as good as 3. 2 was kind of a dip for me because the last few hundred pages get very detailed about the blow-by-blow of johnson's 1948 senate election and start really suffering from caro's worst habit, which is that he likes explaining the same thing to you over and over to make sure you haven't forgotten; but the stuff about COKE STEVENSON, AMERICAN ICON is fun. (altho he's cast so flawlessly as mirror-johnson it's kinda suspicious.) third one is :O :O :O all thru tho so yeah if you do only read one -- although it will be full of spoilers! like reading only a storm of swords.

their private gesture for bison (difficult listening hour), Friday, 4 May 2012 15:54 (five years ago) Permalink


iatee, Friday, 4 May 2012 15:55 (five years ago) Permalink

WSJ interview.

Just finished the JFK bio in the new one.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 5 May 2012 12:18 (five years ago) Permalink

here's a moving anecdote about young RFK buying drinks at a bar for the football team but infuriated by someone else's birthday party:

...he walked up behind Magnuson and hit him over the head with a beer bottle, sending him to the hospital for stitches. (A few days later Ken O'Donnell apologized to Magnuson; Bobby hadn't come himself, he said, because "it just wasn't his nature to apologize"

or Bobby abandoning a bro who couldn't sail:

The wind was fading, and as lunchtime approached, Kennedy realized that they might not make it ashore in time for lunch. Obsessed with his father's insistence on punctuality, he simply dove overboard and swam for shore, leaving his helpless crewmate to fend for himself. After flailing about, the friend was rescued by a passing boat. Kennedy made no attempt to apologize. Bobby was not a boy at the time The incident occurred in 1948, when he was twenty two years old

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 5 May 2012 13:08 (five years ago) Permalink

Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States.

insufferable "review"

World Congress of Itch (Dr Morbius), Monday, 7 May 2012 11:48 (five years ago) Permalink

Discussing his latest new age electronica record

Οὖτις, Monday, 21 March 2016 21:22 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

so how bad is this HBO thing w Cranston gonna be? Feel like they should've put some prosthetic jowls on him

Οὖτις, Monday, 25 April 2016 22:25 (one year ago) Permalink

is he playing Lady Bird

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 April 2016 22:26 (one year ago) Permalink

"It premiered on Broadway in March 2014, in a production also directed by Rauch, which won the 2014 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Bryan Cranston won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance."

maybe not that bad

-_- (jim in glasgow), Monday, 25 April 2016 22:34 (one year ago) Permalink

wow, I had no idea Justin Timberlake wrote an LBJ bio

Check Yr Scrobbles (Moodles), Monday, 25 April 2016 22:37 (one year ago) Permalink

singer-songwriter-keyboardist-LBJ hagiographer

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 April 2016 22:44 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Turns out this HBO thing is really bad. I turned it off after drunk LBJ crashes his car into a lake while swigging whiskey behind the wheel and terrorizing hubert humphrey

Οὖτις, Friday, 27 May 2016 02:11 (one year ago) Permalink

cuz he caught Justin's dancing during "Suit & Tie"?

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 27 May 2016 02:14 (one year ago) Permalink

the car turns, bondstyle, into a boat, which is accurate lbj story #551

i couldn't finish it either tho. the sort of movie where people always say "the 1957 civil rights act," never "the '57 bill".

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Friday, 27 May 2016 04:22 (one year ago) Permalink

got off on the wrong foot with it when lbj's first scene was waking from a troubled+uncertain sleep returning from dallas on air force one. in caro he's a suddenly reactivated dynamo.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Friday, 27 May 2016 04:23 (one year ago) Permalink

sort of admired mackie's 0% resemblance to mlk -- a pencil moustache and done -- and the decision to emphasize his canny+unyielding political operator side is probably a much-needed antidote to the cuddly dreamer cliche, but it kinda misses the freakish softness with which he'd be hard imo. did like what i saw of bob moses -- tho for the sake of staging its intra-movement ideological battles between its characters in person, for drama, the movie kept putting roy wilkins in rooms i'm not sure he'd be in. whatever tho it's a play, but see also something worse: when hoover, instead of sending bowdlerized excerpts of his mlk sex tapes to joseph alsop or writing intricately passive-agressive blackmail memos to nicholas katzenbach, is just suddenly sitting in the parked limo from Every Political Thriller while lbj himself listens to sex noises on reel-to-reel. idk.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Friday, 27 May 2016 04:35 (one year ago) Permalink

those sorts of things i imagine playing better onstage -- interactions between movement ideologies or govt departments boiled down to dramatic abstraction. but movie realism made it seem cheap and dumbed-down somehow -- and also i think a network that finds so much time for the details of cersei's schemes should find some for hoover's.

le Histoire du Edgy Miley (difficult listening hour), Friday, 27 May 2016 04:42 (one year ago) Permalink

after drunk LBJ crashes his car into a lake while swigging whiskey behind the wheel and terrorizing hubert humphrey

it's probably pretty boring but this sounds hilarious

μpright mammal (mh), Sunday, 29 May 2016 01:06 (one year ago) Permalink

but he terrorized Humphrey sober at Cabinet meetings

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 29 May 2016 01:26 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah it sounds funnier than it is

Οὖτις, Sunday, 29 May 2016 01:46 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Almost there!

Those waiting for the fifth and final planned installment of Robert A. Caro’s award-winning life of Lyndon B. Johnson might be both heartened and frustrated by the historian’s most recent update on his progress.

In an interview recorded in New York on May 18 with C-Span’s Brian Lamb (to air on the news channel sometime this summer), Mr. Caro said he had most of the research and 400 typed pages of the manuscript for the next book done. But “one more big thing” remains, he said: A trip to Vietnam.

Mr. Caro lived in the Texas Hill Country while writing and researching the first volume, which covered Johnson’s youth.

“I’m not going to change the way I do it just because I’m getting older,” Mr. Caro, 81, said of the process. “I don’t know what the point would be of that.”

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 5 June 2017 13:03 (five months ago) Permalink

I would think the only point would be to expedite the process of writing, just in case Caro drops dead. I don't wish him ill, but he's 81!

mh, Monday, 5 June 2017 14:00 (five months ago) Permalink

omg that's like exactly what he said the last two times anyone checked in; i thought he'd been in vietnam this whole time

difficult listening hour, Monday, 5 June 2017 16:16 (five months ago) Permalink

The man sure is meticulous:

LBJ Presidential Library is just massive. The last time I was there, they had forty-four million pieces of paper. These shelves go back, like, a hundred feet. And there are four floors of these red buckram boxes. His congressional papers run 144 linear feet. Which is 349 boxes. A box can hold eight hundred pages. I was able to go through all of those, though it took a long, long time. This was when we were living in Texas for three years. Ina and I were spending five and a half days a week, typically, at the library.


Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Monday, 5 June 2017 19:44 (five months ago) Permalink

Has anyone visited?

tbh the only presidential library I have been to is the Hoover one, on a family road trip around the state as a kid. it was about as great as Hoover was

mh, Monday, 5 June 2017 19:45 (five months ago) Permalink

Ina Caro should be listed as coauthor imo

softie (silby), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:26 (five months ago) Permalink

we did a class field trip to the LBJ library at UT. i repressed all my urges to talk about his big penis.

nice cage (m bison), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:28 (five months ago) Permalink

also i had to yell at some kids who touched some piece of art despite clear signs that said DONT TOUCH THIS SHIT

nice cage (m bison), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:29 (five months ago) Permalink

there is a replica of the oval office ca. 1965 in there. there is also a pictoral showcase of him giving some poor blokes "the johnson treatment".

nice cage (m bison), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:30 (five months ago) Permalink

what would be the Trump Treatment -- a bucket of KFC and sharing his phone with his grease-covered fingers?

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:31 (five months ago) Permalink

the trump treatment is short-changing you out of a debt, surely

nice cage (m bison), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:32 (five months ago) Permalink

also sexual assault
also inappropriate levity for a somber occasion
also rank incompetence

nice cage (m bison), Monday, 5 June 2017 20:34 (five months ago) Permalink

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