The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Working Within the System:
Lyndon Johnson and Tom Miller, 1937-1 939
L. PATRICK HUGHES*
WHILE THE BASHING OF LYNDON JOHNSON BEGAN OVER A QUARTER
century ago with the publication of J. Evetts Haley's A Texan
Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power in 1964, no biographer has
sold more books, received more praise for his writing skills, and yet
been the target for more negative critical reviews than journalist Rob-
ert A. Caro.1 Beginning with The Path to Power in 1982 and continuing
with Means of Ascent in 1990, he sketches a one-sided portrait arguing
that the central motivation of Johnson's life was an unquenchable thirst
for power. According to Caro, it was "a hunger for power in its most
naked form, for power not to improve the lives of others but to ma-
nipulate and dominate them, to bend them to his will."'2 On the altar
of power, he sacrificed allies, ideology, and conscience. By 1941, after
four years in the House of Representatives and an unsuccessful race
for the Senate, Johnson, in the author's view, had "displayed a genius
for discerning a path to power, an utter ruthlessness in destroying ob-
* L. Patrick Hughes, a history instructor at Austin Community College (Northridge Campus),
is researching Lyndon Johnson's relationship with Austin His article on Johnson's 1946 re-
nomination will appear in the fall Locus. He wishes to thank Lewis L. Gould, Carole Ann Pierce,
and his colleagues m the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences for their encouragement.
'J. Evetts Haley, A Texan Looks at Lyndon- A Study in Illegitimate Power (Canyon, Tex.: Palo
Duro Press, 1964); Robert A. Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1982); Robert A. Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent (New
York. Alfred Knopf, 199o); Evan Anders, "Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson and the Pitfalls of
Political Biography: A Critical Evaluation of The Years of Lyndon Johnson ." Southwestern His-
torcal Quarterly, XCIV (Apr., gg991), 581-598 (cited hereafter as SHQ), Sidney Blumenthal,
"The Years of Robert Caro," New Republic, CCIII (June 4, 199o), 29-36; Christie L Bourgeois,
Review of The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, SHQ, XCIV (Jan., 1991), 471-472;
David S. Broder, "A Descent Into Distortion On the Ascent of LBJ," Book World- Washington
Post Weekly Edizton (Mar. 12-18, 1990), 35-36; Norman D. Brown, Review of The Years
of Lyndon Johnson- Means of Ascent, Journal of American History, LXXVII (Mar., 1991), 1415;
Lewis L. Gould, "Robert Caro and George Reedy on LyndonJohnson. An Essay Review," SHQ,
LXXXVII, (July, 1983), 57-68; Tom Matthews, "Loathing Lyndon, Part II," Newsweek, CXV
(Mar. 19, 1990), 66, 68, 7o, Robert Sherrill, "Coke Classic," Texas Observer, LXXXII (Apr. 6,
1990), 14-17, Ronald Steel, "The Long Shadow of Ambition," New York Tzmes Book Review
(Mar. 11, 1990), 1, 24-25, Geoffrey C. Ward, "A One-Sided Johnson," American Heritage, XLI
(July/Aug., i990), lo, 12; Gary Wills, "Monstre Desacre," New York Review of Books (Apr. 26,
i990), 7-10.
2Caro, The Path to Power, xix.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed July 23, 2014.