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April 12, 2012


The Years of Robert Caro

The New York Times has a must-read profile of Robert Caro.

"Caro began The Years of Lyndon Johnson, his multivolume biography of the 36th president, in 1976, not long after finishing The Power Broker, his immense, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Moses, and figured he could do Johnson's life in three volumes, which would take him six years or so. Next month, a fourth installment, The Passage of Power, will appear 10 years after the last, Master of the Senate, which came out 12 years after its predecessor, Means of Ascent, which in turn was published 8 years after the first book, The Path to Power. These are not ordinary-size volumes, either. Means of Ascent, at 500 pages or so, is the comparative shrimp of the bunch. The Path to Power is almost 900 pages long; Master of the Senate is close to 1,200, or nearly as long as the previous two combined. If you try to read or reread them all in just a couple weeks, as I foolishly did not long ago, you find yourself reluctant to put them down but also worried that your eyeballs may fall out."

"Caro's pace has slowed so that he is now spending more time writing the years of Lyndon Johnson than Johnson spent living them, and he isn't close to being done yet."

A fascinating slide show describes the "painstaking process" of how Caro writes.












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