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The Power Broker - the story of how an idealist turned into Darth Vader

The Years of Lyndon Johnson - the story of how LBJ rigged the 1948 election for Senate and rose to power

Here's an excerpt from an interview with the author of both books:

> During all these years I did come to understand stuff about power that I wanted people to know. You read in every textbook that cliché: Power corrupts. In my opinion, I’ve learned that power does not always corrupt. Power can cleanse. When you’re climbing to get power, you have to use whatever methods are necessary, and you have to conceal your aims. Because if people knew your aims, it might make them not want to give you power. Prime example: the southern senators who raised Lyndon Johnson up in the Senate. They did that because he had made them believe that he felt the same way they did about black people and segregation. But then when you get power, you can do what you want. So power reveals. Do I want people to know that? Yes.

I can't recommend The Power Broker more highly. It is one of my favorite books, and one of the books that I believe actually gave me new insights into how the world works.

I actually haven't read his LBJ series yet, and I'm really looking forward to it.

I just read about 70% of The Power Broker before having to return it to the library - what a book. I was surprised at how easy it was to read something so long, with often pretty banal subject matter. Reading it reminded me of that piece of advice often given to college freshmen about finding the best professor on campus and taking their classes: even if you're totally uninterested in the subject at the start, you'll get drawn in by the professor's enthusiasm and ability.

I really love the Robert Caro LBJ series. I'm on the second one now and they're hard to put down.

(I also think it's one of the best descriptions of why the romanticized simple life of a subsistence farmer misses how incredibly hard their lives are. There'a a ~4 page section describing what life was like for farmers in Hill country in E. Texas before electrification, and it's so incredibly similar to how our farmers live now. )

I read the Power Broker whenever I get promoted or things go really well. That transformation is tale worth reflecting on.

He also has a new book out, "Working." It's a pretty short read compared to his other stuff, and he shares a few new stories about what he had to do to get some of his material. All around great stuff.

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