It is not often that the fourth mammoth installment of a multivolume biography has an initial print run of 300,000. Journalist-turned-historian Robert Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson is an exception. Titled “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” it is the most celebrated political biography of its era. The previous three volumes have won major literary awards, and the newest serving promises to be a prize winner as well.
Caro is famously obsessive about his work. He has spent 38 years working on these four books, and a final fifth volume will cover most of the LBJ presidency and the remainder of Johnson’s life. “The Passage of Power’’ covers just six years in the life of the tall Texas schoolteacher, touching on only a few months of his presidency. The rest covers Johnson’s ill-fated run for the 1960 Democratic nomination, and his three humiliating years as JFK’s vice president.