The first volume, The Path to Power introduces the young Johnson and carries him through his failed Senate campaign of 1941. This takes a good 880 pages.
Johnson was an extraordinarily unpleasant boy and young man: self-centered, ruthless, cowardly, sycophantic toward powerful older men, dishonest, devoid of integrity -- and, until the setback that ends this volume, remarkably successful at clawing his way from poverty into power.
Someday I may write more about some of the insights into U.S. politics that Caro offers in this 1982 volume. (He's still working on Johnson even now; at this point, I just hope he finishes before life finishes him!)
But today, to honor International Women's Day, I want to pass along some excerpts in which Caro describes how Johnson's white women constituents in the rural Texas hill country (think outside of Austin) lived during Johnson's boyhood and the Depression.
So Congressman Johnson got them electricity. This served his interests; he formed a livelong alliance with the engineering firm of Brown and Root which evolved through various permutations into a subsidiary of rapacious government contractor, Halliburton. Without Brown and Root, Johnson would not have been a Senator or President.
But Johnson brought the rural Hill Country electricity and changed those women's lives forever.