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Researching, Interviewing, Writing

Book - 2019
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Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro gives us a glimpse into his own life and work. 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 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 working in solitude, he found a writers' community at the New York Public Library, 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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525656340
Branch Call Number: 818.5409 CARO
Characteristics: xxiv, 207 pages ; 22 cm


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Dec 31, 2020

This book wasn't what I thought it would be, but I became engrossed in it soon after starting. The writing is very good and it's worth reading just to get the rhythm and feel of Caro's prose in your head. A lot of the teaching about how to write feels like it's communicated without being taught overtly in this book - as you read you get a feel for how Caro works - what he does each day, how long things take, his approach to interviews and the pursuit of facts. I learned a lot from reading this book, but not the things I expected to learn and the learning didn't happen in the way I expected it to.

Sep 27, 2020

For those who have never read any of Robert Caro’s biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, this is a comfortable introduction to his work. For those of us who have previously read Caro, this offers interesting anecdotes and explanations about his writing career. Intriguing, wise, and good-humored, this is a quick read at only about 200 pages.
One can also find similar material in interviews and talks he has done that are available online via C-Span Book TV.

Sep 23, 2020

self idol

Mar 05, 2020

Haven't read any other Caro books, found parts on Moses and LBJ more interesting than author's recollections on the writing process.

Jan 30, 2020

Caro's books on LBJ are so lengthy that I've shied away from reading them. After reading this book, though, where he describes his exhaustive research methods, and after enjoying firsthand his word wizardry here, I will get going on LBJ bio #1. Caro is an author well worth investing in.

Nov 28, 2019

I am amazed at Cato's obsessive, perfectionist method of working to the point of moving to Texas to get locals to talk to him about LBJ. He could not have had his career if his wife had not helped him with his research and in accepting that his work style would shape their lives. She should get credit on his books.

Aug 08, 2019

Relatively short book demonstrating the perfectionist methods Caro utilizes for the amazingly hard work required to write the most accurate and insightful history books possible.
His overall theme of interest concerns political power, but he provides many deeply revealing human stories that help bring this history alive.

Aug 07, 2019

Unlike his other books, this book is too short. While there is some original material much of the book is a compilation of material that has appeared elsewhere, including an interview that appeared in the Paris Review. Caro describes his approach to writing biographies and how he tries to capture the context of the times and the impact of his subjects on others. I found his desire to capture a "sense of place" in his biographies and the painstaking processes about how he tried to achieve that sense to be quite fascinating. The level of effort that goes into each of his books is astounding. He describes the mountains of documents that he had to pour through, how he tracked people down to interview, who he interviewed and how he conducted interviews. He also describes his writing process, which involves handwriting multiple drafts before getting the material on his Smith Corona typewriter. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and can't wait to read more of his work.

VaughanPLDavidB May 12, 2019

Though about half this book contains previously published material (a shortcoming for some critics), it is all entirely new to me. I bought a copy of The Power Broker many years ago but only ever got about 130 pages in before stopping. After reading the reprint of Caro's 1998 New Yorker article on the writing of that book and the interviewing of Robert Moses, I am eager to pick it up and start over. I can say a similar thing about The Years of Lyndon Johnson. I bought the first two volumes from a discount bin and was hooked. Before I read the third volume I re-read the first two, and did the same for volume four. I expect I will do the same for volume five, assuming Caro, now 84, lives to finish it.

May 02, 2019

an excellent read- for fans of Robert Caro-- you get to know the author and relate to his struggles, passionate efforts as an author.
A short book one can read thru in a day if time permits.
Admire him very very much for his very detailed and fact-based as is tales/biographies on his only subjects Lyndon Johnson ( 4 books + 1 in the works) and Robert Moses (1 book).

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