Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing

Knopf. Apr. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780525656340. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780525656357. LIT
OrangeReviewStarAvid 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.

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