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From the two time Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson an unprecedented gathering of vivid candid deeply revealing recollections about his experiences researching and writing his acclaimed booksFor the first time in his long career Robert Caro gives us a glimpse into his own life and work in these evocatively written personal pieces He describes what it was like to interview the mighty Robert Moses; what it felt like to begin discovering the extent of the political power Moses wielded; the combination of discouragement and exhilaration he felt confronting the vast holdings of the Lyndon B Johnson Library and Museum in Austin Texas; his encounters with witnesses including longtime residents wrenchingly displaced by the construction of Moses’ Cross Bronx Expressway and Lady Bird Johnson acknowledging the beauty and influence of one of LBJ’s mistresses He gratefully remembers how after years of loneliness he found a writers’ community at the New York Public Library’s Frederick Lewis Allen Room and details the ways he goes about planning and composing his books Caro recalls the moments at which he came to understand that he wanted to write not just about the men who wielded power but about the people and the politics that were shaped by that power And he talks about the importance to him of the writing itself of how he tries to infuse it with a sense of place and mood to bring characters and situations to life on the page Taken together these reminiscences–some previously published some written expressly for this book–bring into focus the passion the wry self deprecation and the integrity with which this brilliant historian has always approached his work


10 thoughts on “Working

  1. says:

    Turn every page Never assume anyhting Turn every goddamned page Alan Hathaway uoted by Robert Caro Working Researching Interviewing Writing It is weird to give a Caro book only four stars I've read nearly everyhing except the big Whale The Power Broker Robert Moses and the Fall of New York he's writing and it seems nearly perfect He is one of my favorite writers of nonfiction ever His fanatacism to his craft is incredible His old school approach to research and writing is fantastic But still I only gave this book four stars much for the same reason why I gave McPhee only four stars for his writing book Draft No 4 On the Writing Process I've read too much of it before A lot of both books were cobbled together from other pieces and previous books for example On Power So part of my four star review is due to my hunger and expectations for Caro I want new and I want and part is due to Caro not his strongest book and not original Even in this book I think there were two maybe three? different sections where the story of Caro's wife selling their home to help finance The Power Broker Robert Moses and the Fall of New York pops up I know the story I've read it before So by the last time it is mentioned in the book I begin to feel it is as much about myth making about Caro and again I'm a Caro acolyte I BELIEVE the myth as it is about his craft


  2. says:

    Robert Caro is one of my favorite biographers In this book Caro discusses his life but mostly provides information about how he and his wife do research about a topic The number one take away I got from this book is do not hurry take your time and do it right He tells of hours in the archives reading other people’s work newspaper articles diaries and letters He also tells of traveling around doing interviews with people He spent years doing the research gathering material organizing it and then analyzing it The last thing he does is the writingA lot of the information in this book can be found in his book “On Power” and in his other essays etc I think he put together a collection of his shorter essays that discuss his writing and research methods and stuck them into this book For those of us who have read most of his writings this is all old material except for some pearls provided about research I am tempted to give this only three stars; but because it is Caro I will give it four starsI read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible The book is seven hours and fifty five minutes Caro narrated the book It is great to hear him tell about what he does


  3. says:

    I think Caro is the greatest living writer out there may he live forever or until he finishes the last Johnson book A lot of material in this book is old stuff include in his other books or periodicals but it's still wonderful to have it compiled in one place My favorite essay in this collection was the one about importance of place where he talks about how living in the Hill Country and experiencing the barrenness of the land helped him understand Johnson's superhuman vote counting abilities and how Caro recreated his walk to the Hill at the exact time he was doing it so that he could understand why he would break out into a run every day on his way to work I also love his work because it is human he talks about how he needed to talk to the people who were hurt by Robert Moses for example to tell the full story Now please for the love of God Robert Caro stop writing memoirs and GET BACK TO WORK


  4. says:

    Lately a daily ritual for me is to offer a simple silent supplication or prayer for two people of advanced age – two people I have never met and whom I am sure I never will meet I pray that they will live several years in good health with continued mental acuity Robert Caro is one of these people At age 83 he is still a few years from finishing the fifth and final book in his series The Years of Lyndon Johnson Eight to twelve years elapsed between the publication of each of the first four books in the series due to Caro's insistence on time consuming meticulous research and constant re organizing and re writing of the lengthy volumes But the results are all masterpieces I am currently than halfway through Master of the Senate the Pulitzer prize winning third book in the seriesCaro's books are so much than mere biographies They tell the story of power in America – how power is won how it has been wielded how it has been maintained and lost and how it has affected for both good and for ill those who have it and those who do notIn this relatively short memoir Robert Caro talks about his work He gives several insightful and interesting anecdotes He also describes the details of how he painstakingly obtains the information for his books through countless interviews and literally millions of pages of reading constantly reorganizing deleting from adding to and rewriting his manuscripts until years later he achieves the final product – a published book that he is still and forever wanting to enhance and improveI believe that if I had read the printed version of this book rather than having listened to the audio book I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much The audio book is read by the author himself in his slow purposeful New York accent I loved how he pronounced “raw” and “law” as “rawr” and “lawr” His wife Ina whom he refers to freuently – always with obvious heartfelt love respect and devotion – he pronounces “Iner” I cannot recommend Robert Caro’s books highly They are not light reading but they are illuminating than anything I have ever read before and so well written This memoir however could probably only be truly appreciated by those who have already had experience with Caro’s writing


  5. says:

    Working by Robert Caro is a riveting book that basically highlights his career of bringing us no less than two Pulitzer prize winning biographies among his most commendable body of work Caro was intrigued by power and his first biography was that of Robert Moses who essentially built New York City His next endeavor was the extensive biographies of Lyndon Baines Johnson I must say that I have a lot of very dear historians that I have been drawn to over the years but this biographer stands apart I was so struck with the early years of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Texas Hill country of not only his roots but that of his family and ancestors Caro realizing that he would never be able to understand Johnson's personality nor what drove him unless he lived in the Texas Hill Country which he and his wife did for three years; and this is how you develop a sense of place It was in those first several chapters of the first book about President Lyndon Johnson that I was just riveted with the hardscrabble life that these people survived and the difference that Johnson was able to bring to the people of the Texas Hill Country And therefore I came to feel that if what I had for so long wanted to do what was to discover and disclose the fundamentals of true political power not theoretical political power but the raw naked essence of such power then perhaps the best way to do that was through portraying the life of Robert MosesBy' a sense of place' I mean helping the reader to visualize the physical setting in which a book's action is occurring to see it clearly enough in sufficient detail so that he feels as if he himself were present while the action is occurring The action thereby becomes vivid real to him and the point the author is trying to make about the action the significance he wants to grasp is therefore deepened as wellIt was a step a big step toward justice That's why I tried first to figure out then to explain how Lyndon Johnson managed to do it Hard to figure it out hard to explain it Harder to do itIt's true that I think of the Lyndon Johnson books in terms of very large historical events and trends because the books are the story not just of Lyndon Johnson although even in those terms it's a monumental story the desperate young man who pulled himself out of this incredibly lonely and impoverished place who rose to the very height of power in America what he had always dreamed of and then gave it But the books are also supposed to be a picture of America during the years of Lyndon Johnson


  6. says:

    This is an odds and ends collection that functions as a brief Making Of documentary companion to his epic and essential Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson biographies The recent New Yorker excerpt is essentially a narrative alternate version seamlessly combining information from many of the brief essays into one continuous story The book is scattered and not as elegant but all the additional information is eually fascinating and a real tease for whatever extended memoir he's working on You see his unflashy yet profound belief in the power of researching interviewing and writing in action watching with him as a breakthrough with a subject or source material reveals the hidden crucial moments that change everything There is something just as moving about watching Robert Caro in the process of sketching Moses' or Johnson's unparalleled ability to create and destroy as reading the finished product Powerful political figures like them may shape our world but it is writers like Caro who demystify them who give the downtrodden a voice who identify the ephemeral and arbitrary sources of power of timeless possibility and of the original sin baked into the American and by extension human experience Usually I read fiction and part of what appeals to me about Caro's work is how it articulates better than anything why writing is important as important as any kind of politics In the biographies that is shown by implication but here it is explicitThis uote might sum it up While I am aware that there is no Truth no single truth no truth simple or unsimple either; no verity eternal or otherwise; no Truth about anything there are Facts objective facts discernible and verifiable And the facts you accumulate the closer you come to whatever truth there is And finding facts through reading documents or through interviewing and re interviewing can't be rushed; it takes time Truth takes time


  7. says:

    Having discovered the wonders of Robert A Caro a number of years ago I vowed that I would read all that he had written Beginning with his work on Robert Moses I was pulled into the intricate world of a biography that sought not only to explore the world of this powerful urban planner within New York State’s political realm but also the personal aspects that drove the man to shape such change While the book was massive Caro’s writing made it come to life for me Thereafter I began the colossal task of reading and synthesising the multi volume biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson LBJ—with the fifth and final volume yet to come—in which Caro made the rise from rags to the White House appear monumental for a man who turned politicking into a new art form Stunned at the superior nature of the writing I wait impatiently for the aforementioned final volume of the LBJ biography I saw this book floating around and gritted my teeth at the time a tad disgruntled that Caro had penned a book on another topic rather than focussing his attention on the biography However I caved and chose to read this piece recently missing Caro and his writing I now slap myself upside the head for waiting so long as Caro offers a behind the scenes look at how he got into writing—a journalist with Newsweek—and what led him to choose these two giants in their respective political fields Between talking about his fact finding and early drafts of both the Moses and LBJ biographies Caro shares how difficult it was for him to get people to speak with him until he showed that he was not just another journalist looking for a new angle to smear the man but rather to get to the core of the truths that had long been rumours Caro actually moved throughout Texas while researching the early years of LBJ living in the same regions and speaking to some who remembered the 36th President of the United States when he was just a boy or a school teacher Caro also discusses the reason his books take so long to put together not least because he writes his first few drafts by hand ugh but also due to the fact that he wants his research to be as thorough as possible Caro does all his own work using his wife to assist at times as well but hires no outside help While this is to be applauded it makes his fans surely want to tear out their hair as they wait for the next publication—in my case I have none to grab hold of This short piece complements all the work that Caro has done and provides a tiny hint at what is to be expected in the final LBJ volume At 85 years of age this October there are concerns both by the author and his fans that Caro will complete the book but I have as much faith as I can that he’ll come through with something Ok so maybe this is my way of pleading Robert A Caro please finish the series Recommended for those who have loved any or all of Robert A Caro’s work as well as the fan who loves to know some of the insider secrets to writing stellar biographical piecesWhile I have read many biographies in my life Caro’s work is surely some of the best I tell anyone who has an iota of interest in political biographies that they must look into Caro’s work as both Robert Moses and LBJ have been treated so thoroughly under Caro’s analytical writing The central character must be properly analyzed to get the full depth of their impact on the world in a biography but Caro goes one step further; he seeks to understand some of the minute aspects that shaped the men about whom he based his research Caro lays it all out here for the curious reader pulling no punches as he admits the lengths to which he went to get answers A piece like this is seemingly rare for an author to produce allowing the reader inside their writing process and behind the secretive curtain of their interview process Caro dazzles while being frank and uses the chapters to speak clearly about his process While I mentioned above that I bemoaned his delaying getting Volume 5 completed on the LBJ biography I am now in the process of eating crow and baking a humble pie I needed this book to better understand one of the best biographers I have ever discovered I sit here unable to put all my words together properly because I am in awe of the man than that the book was too hard to review Anyone who has picked up and positively reviewed a Caro piece will likely want to get this book for themselves Then again sometimes not knowing the backstory is best though this piece is surely no sausage making endeavourKudos Mr Caro for dazzling me with everything you do I cannot wait but will for your next major publicationLovehate the review? An ever growing collection of others appears at Book for All Seasons a different sort of Book Challenge


  8. says:

    My first Robert Caro book and dare I say not my last?Beyond interesting Caro takes the reader behind the scenes into his processCaro's thoughts on what great writing entails “Rhythm matters Mood matters Sense of place matters All these things we talk about with novels yet I feel that for history and biography to accomplish what they should accomplish they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do”A two time Pulitzer Prize–winning author The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson—I'm surprised that all three of the libraries I have cards with don't carry these books “When people say that power corrupts I don’t happen to believe that Power reveals When you’re on your way up you have to conceal what you intend to do Once you get power then you see it what he really wanted to do”


  9. says:

    To look at the cover of this you might think 'Dull dry' Not a bit of it If you have any interest in writing researching why you might feel compelled to write or spend your days rolling around in words or what makes a legendary writer tick this is highly recommended


  10. says:

    Thoughts soon