I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Gary Wills on Robert Caro’s latest volume on LBJ

Wills has a really great review of Caro’s latest that focuses on one of the big themes of the book, the hatred between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy.   One of the interesting things in Caro’s book is that he at least rhetorically rides the fence on two big historical questions:  Did John Kennedy really back almost accidently into putting Johnson on the ticket?  Was Kennedy preparing to remove Johnson from the ticket in 1964?   Caro lays out the evidence, including accounts of Kennedy insiders who seem to believe what Bobby later said in interviews– that John Kennedy really didn’t mean to honestly offer the vice presidency to Johnson, thinking Johnson would not take that step-down in power from being Senate Majority Leader.  But there really is only one conclusion, even though Caro leaves it to the reader to make, that what Bobby said may have been what he believed, yet was not true.  Caro does a similar thing with the questions about 1964.  Wills’s review simply draws the conclusions I drew as a reader, and does not even note that they are presented as historical questions.

In any event, the review is well worth reading whether you have read Caro’s book or not.  And I want to repeat my prior recommendations of Caro’s book.  I hope to see the last volume before too many years.

5 comments to Gary Wills on Robert Caro’s latest volume on LBJ

  • Traditionally, I think one links to the review in question, or else says where it’s published?

    And is this different from the Wills review you already posted about?

  • James

    Looking forward to “the last volume”? Really think there is only ‘one’ more volume – realize Caro is getting old, but will he quit with one more?

    Have enjoyed all the earlier volumes; haven’t had a chance to read this one yet – but will.

  • Ben

    Just to confirm: this is Will’s review from a year or so ago, is it not? Caro doesn’t have a new volume hot off the presses … does he?

  • NMC

    It’s a review from last year. I don’t know why, but the NYRB had it on their top page briefly yesterday, I went to it, read it, and forgot I’d linked it before. Rereading it after I had finished the book, the review seemed more on point than reading it while half-way through the book.

  • JL

    I have read the Caro books and it makes me understand the advantage in writing such a work after most of the people in it are dead. However the nature of the Caro books and the subject LBJ, makes it unpopular with the average reader. Other than one person I don’t know anyone who has read even one of the books. I think they are important books but the sad thing is so few people will read them.

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