Working : researching, interviewing, writing

by Robert A. Caro

Hardcover, 2019

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019.

Description

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

User reviews

LibraryThing member stevesmits
Fascinating! To see how the master of biography works. In 1974, I was in class as graduate school where the professor was ecstatic about "The Power Broker". I don't remember the professor and certainly nothing of the course, but I well remember one of the most amazing works of biography ever -- followed by the equally great Lyndon Johnson volumes.

Caro is 83 and I'm 70. My fondest hope is that he's alive to finish volume 5 and I'm alive to read it!!
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LibraryThing member maggie1944
Fascinating explanation of Cairo’s exhaustive research and high demands for himself to write in a way which grabs attention.
LibraryThing member gregdehler
My previous reading of Robert Caro was limited to a few dips into his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson for undergraduate and graduate papers. And honestly, the sheer size of his volumes always scared me off. And I did not anticipate that I would read Working, especially after listening to Caro describe on a couple of different podcasts and having read one of his articles in the New Yorker. But when I scanned Working it was obvious that there were several things he had not already mentioned, so I broke down and brought the book. It is a delightful account of the behind-the-scenes writing of history and biography. I came away with a deep admiration and subsequently started purchasing those books that once frightened me by their size. After reading Working I am now a Caro FAN!!!… (more)
LibraryThing member wwj
Excellent, one hopes that the final volume of LBJ comes out soon and he turns to a full memoir
LibraryThing member waldhaus1
I started buying the years on Lyndon Johnson when it was only a hardback. But like too many books I buy I never got around to reading them. Then about ten years ago I Bagan listening to the audiobooks and they exceeded my expectations. I have listened to all that has been published then this year I discovered the power broker about Robert Moses and was again delighted.
I have also read two of his wife, Ina's books about travel in France and loved born. I always recommend them to anyone I know who is planning a trip to France.
So I couldn't resist the chance to learn more about those behind the books that had brought me so much enjoyment. This book also exceeded 7 expectations. Having it narrated by the author w was a special treat.
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LibraryThing member john.cooper
Caro is reputed to be the best living biographer, one whose work not only fully illuminates an individual, but his entire society and times, in prose worthy of an exciting novel. He has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, the National Book Critics Circle award three times, and was given the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. In another decade, when I'm retired, I hope to read his 3,500-page biography of Lyndon Johnson in its entirety. (I hope that by that time, it's been expanded by a further 1,200 pages or so.)

Meanwhile, here are 200 pages of stories and reflections that had no place in the biographies themselves: stories of the people he's met, of the interviews they gave, of how Caro works and how he thinks; it's all interesting, sometimes more than just interesting, and it makes me eager to read the rest of his work sooner instead of later. Reading his work is like sitting in his office and listening to him talk about the larger-than-life characters he encountered, and how he got them to open up. In no sense is reading this fascinating book "study" or work. It's as easy as reading a magazine, and a hundred times more rewarding.
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LibraryThing member larryerick
I'm not going to review this book for those who have already read one of this author's books on Robert Moses or Lyndon Johnson. Those readers are already familiar with his outstanding scholarship. This book will be more a very pleasant summary for them of what they experienced earlier. Rather, I am going to direct attention to two points the author makes in this brief but still enlightening work.

The first regards what this author brings to non-fiction in spades that avid fiction readers presumably assume never exists at all in non-fiction. "Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters. All these things we talk about with novels, yet feel that for history and biology to accomplish what they should accomplish, they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do." As exemplary as this author is at that, he is not the only one, in the least. There is outstanding non-fiction "writing" out there for those fiction-only readers to marvel over, if they will only look closely. And a big advantage that non-fiction has over fiction is that the reader can never find themselves saying, "Oh, that could never have happened like that", because, of course, in accurate non-fiction writing, it most definitely did happen, exactly that way.

Secondly, this author's major work is about power, how it works, how it is gained or lost, how it affects our lives for good and bad. To that, I will offer from this book: "Power doesn't always corrupt...But what power *always* does is reveal, because when climbing, you have to conceal from people what it is you're really willing to do, what it is you want to do. But once you get enough power, once you're there, then you can see what the protagonist wanted to do all along, because he's doing it." Can you think of anyone in today's world to whom this may apply? I can think of several, and not all of them tweet multiple times a day.
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LibraryThing member DanDiercks
Caro’s book is ostensibly about two book subjects: city planner Robert Moses and politician Lyndon Johnson. The Johnson book is four volumes with the fifth supposedly on its way (although Caro is 84 years old, so whether or not it will actually come out is in doubt). Caro’s book is as much about the research and writing process as it is about the two men who are the subjects of his books. Caro goes into detail about how important it is to get his reader to “see” the settings he’s writing about, not merely know the place. He asks his interviewees to reconstruct their dealings with the people Caro is actually writing about. Often its a difficult process to get these people to put themselves back in the situations they’re talking about, but the tactic is effective and results in anecdotes that Caro uses to bring these scenes and people to life for his reader.
Caro’s book probably isn’t for everyone. I think it should be required reading in every journalism school and nonfiction writing program in the country. It would be as instructive to students as any textbook. I really enjoyed it.
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LibraryThing member rivkat
Musings and interviews about Caro’s life as a writer and chronicler of what it means to have power. He worked very hard to show people both the human costs and benefits of the exercise of power—Robert Moses’s destruction of thriving neighborhoods and thus of many of the people who lived there; LBJ’s transformation of the lives of rural Texas women who used to have to pull hundreds of gallons of water up from wells by hand, then transport those hundreds of pounds to their houses, every single day, through rural electrification. He tells a wonderful story about figuring out how LBJ went from random junior Congressman to a person that senior elected officials wrote to deferentially—in October 1940, he transformed and organized political donations from Texas businesses, putting more money into congressional campaigns around the country than had ever been available, but kept them firmly under his own control. LBJ had tried to keep most of this off the record, but just enough survived (sometimes mysteriously filed) for Caro to piece together the story. In the end, Caro says, power doesn’t necessarily corrupt, but “what power always does is reveal.”… (more)

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Barcode

11163
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