Robert Caro Takes Aim at Dallas

In an excerpt from his long-awaited fourth volume on LBJ, Robert Caro delves into those fateful hours in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Tue March 27, 2012 10:04 pm
Cecil Stoughton, White House Photographs via JFK Library

Robert Caro, who published his first volume on Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1982, shares an excerpt from his new book on the 36th president in the latest issue of the New Yorker. The 16,000-word piece, which retells the JFK assassination in meticulous detail, is taken from The Passage of Power, Caro’s fourth and penultimate book about LBJ, which will be released on May 1.

The story (subscription only, for now) is replete with the dramatic tension Caro is known for: he describes how, as the presidential motorcade rolled toward Dealey Plaza, reporters in Washington were digging deeper into Johnson’s personal wealth and radio empire, and senators were meeting to discuss a brewing scandal involving Johnson aide Bobby Baker.

The cheering crowds in downtown Dallas, which roared to greet Kennedy’s car, hushed by the time Johnson’s rented gray convertible reached them. This, Caro says, was emblematic of where LBJ was in his life: the once-powerful Senate majority leader now despairing as he languished in the shadow of a handsome young president. As Caro writes,

Trailing them in the rented car, driving between crowds of people cheering but not for him, sharing a

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