Working Researching, interviewing, writing

Robert A. Caro

Book - 2019

"Short autobiography about author's processes of researching, interviewing, and writing his books"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Caro, Robert A.
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New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2019.
First edition
Item Description
"A Borzoi book"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
xxiv, 207 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Robert A. Caro (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Truth takes time. That's the short answer to the question Caro is always asked: Why has it taken him so long to write his books? This engrossing and unexpectedly moving essay collection fully illuminates why and how he has spent so many years working on his massive, contextually intricate, and courageous biographies of two towering figures, Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson. These masterpieces of fact-gathering, analysis, and artistry have earned Caro two Pulitzers, the National Book Award, three National Book Circle Awards, the National Humanities Medal, and many other honors. In humorous, rueful, often flat-out astonishing anecdotes, he recounts his early newspaper days and the sense of mission that drove him, with the unshakable support of his historian wife and investigative partner, Ina, to devote his life to the daunting task of illuminating the nature and impact of political power. Caro describes his assiduous reading of acres of documents and conducting hundreds of difficult interviews, always searching for telling details that bring the past to life, and how he labors over multiple drafts. As he elucidates his commitment to creating biographical history of conscience and resonance, Caro affirms the larger significance of factual precision, empathy, and expressive verve.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this superb collection of original and previously published pieces, Pulitzer winner Caro (The Passage of Power) offers a glimpse into the process behind his epic biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. Writing with customary humor, grace, and vigor, Caro wryly acknowledges the question of "Why does it take so long" to produce each book. Caro provides both the short answer-intensive research-and a longer, illuminating explication of just what that entails. For example, he tracked down individual people displaced by Moses's building projects; he followed the trail of money to uncover how Johnson attained influence in Congress while still a relative unknown; he moved to Johnson's hometown in rural Texas and gained the trust and of its residents, who shared untold stories with him. Caro began his career in journalism and credits his Newsday editor for two crucial pieces of investigative advice: "Turn every page" and find a way to get the information one needs. The results may take longer, but, as readers of Caro's work know, it is always worth the wait. For the impatient, however, this lively combination of memoir and non-fiction writing will help sate their appetite for new writing from Caro until the arrival of his final, still-in-progress Johnson biography. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Avid Caro readers might be puzzled by this collection of mostly new autobiographical essays. Shouldn't he be writing the long-awaited fifth and final volume of the masterful Years of Lyndon Johnson? But as the octogenarian Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer explains, this volume serves as a preview and teaser of a possible longer memoir that he may or may not be able to finish. Offering a fascinating window into his writing and research methods, Caro discusses -affectionately his early days as a reporter for Newsday and his struggles writing The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Mostly, however, he relates tales of his indefatigable persistence in getting "the complete story," describing how he and wife Ina moved to the Texas Hill Country in order to understand better the roots of President Lyndon B. Johnson's ambition. His encounters with Johnson's brother Sam Houston Johnson and with Lady Bird are especially moving and revealing. This work concludes with a 2016 Paris Review interview, in which Caro effectively summarizes this entire text. -VERDICT This fascinating collection serves as an unexpected treat for Caro's admirers and a fine introduction to his work for the uninitiated.-Thomas Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

At age 83, the iconic biographer takes time away from his work on the fifth volume of his acclaimed Lyndon Johnson biography to offer wisdom about researching and writing.In sparkling prose, Caro (The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power, 2012, etc.)who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, among countless other honorsrecounts his path from growing up sheltered in New York City to studying at Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia to unexpectedly becoming a newspaper reporter and deciding to devote his life to writing books. Thinking about his first book topic, he landed on developer Robert Moses, "the most powerful figure in New York City and New York State for more than forty yearsmore powerful than any mayor or any governor, or any mayor and governor combined." After Caro received a book contract with a small advance from a publisher, he, his wife (and research assistant), Ina, and their son struggled to make ends meet as the project consumed about a decade, much longer than the author had anticipated. The book was more than 1,300 pages, and its surprising success gave Caro some financial stability. The author explains that he focused on Johnson next as an exemplar of how to wield political power on a national scale. Throughout the book, the author shares fascinating insights into his research process in archives; his information-gathering in the field, such as the Texas Hill Country; his interviewing techniques; his practice of writing the first draft longhand with pens and pencils; and his ability to think deeply about his material. Caro also offers numerous memorable anecdotese.g., how he verified rumors that Johnson became a senator in 1948 via illegal ballot counting in one rural county.Caro's skill as a biographer, master of compelling prose, appealing self-deprecation, and overall generous spirit shine through on every page. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.