Robert Caro (October 30, 1935 - ..)
Born: 30th October, 1935
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Writer
Region: New York City, New York, "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York", "The Years of Lyndon Johnson"
Notable works: National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize

Robert Caro Facts

Biography

Robert Caro, in full Robert Allan Caro, (born October 30, 1935, New York, New York, U.S.), American historian and author whose extensive biographies of Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert Moses went beyond studies of the men who were their subjects to investigate the practice of political power in the United States.

Caro was raised in Manhattan and developed his interests in history and journalism at a young age. He self-published a mimeographed newspaper at his grade school and read extensively, including Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Later, as a student at Princeton University, Caro was the managing editor of the campus newspaper The Daily Princetonian and wrote short stories for the school's humour magazine The Princeton Tiger. After graduating with a B.A. in English in 1957, Caro worked as a reporter for the New Brunswick Daily Home News, then as an investigative reporter for Newsday.

While at Newsday he became fascinated by the vast political power Moses wielded as a public official in shaping New York City, particularly after an enormously unpopular bridge project was built because he willed it so. A desire to explore Moses's power in further depth later led Caro to spend seven years interviewing hundreds of people connected with Moses and his public works projects and examining public records and previously secret files. The result was a 1,200-page biography, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974). Caro was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize for the book, which became known as a classic in the field of urban planning.

Soon after The Power Broker's publication, Caro began research on The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power (1982), which he conceived of as the first in a series of books covering the former president's life. In the process of researching the first volume, which would document Johnson's life up until the United States entered World War II, Caro moved with his wife, Ina, to Texas Hill Country, where Johnson had been born and raised. Caro immersed himself in the local culture for three years and became accepted as an insider, which made him privy to rarely told truths about Johnson's childhood and early adulthood. Assisted by Ina, who was a medieval historian and writer, Caro conducted extensive research that included combing through millions of documents at Johnson's presidential library. Caro's portrayal of Johnson's ruthless quest for power caused some critics to decry his portrayal of the president as unfairly critical, but the general reception of the meticulously documented book was overwhelmingly positive.

Caro continued his research on Johnson, publishing the second book of the series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent, in 1990. Covering Johnson's rise to power between World War II and his election to the U.S. Senate in 1948, the book brought to light two particularly controversial episodes in Johnson's career: his routine exaggerations about the conditions under which he was awarded a Silver Star for his military service and the questionable circumstances surrounding his 1948 Senate win. In 2003 The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate was published. In addition to covering Johnson's time in the Senate from 1949 to 1960, the work examined the politics of the Senate and included a 100-page history of the political body. Caro's fourth book on Johnson appeared in 2012. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power examined Johnson's transition from powerful Senate leader to what Caro described as a relatively powerless position as vice president and, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy--which Caro vividly described through Johnson's eyes--his ascent to the presidency.

After the publication of The Passage of Power, Caro estimated that he would complete his series with one final volume. During this time, he published Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing (2019), in which he recounted the process of creating his books.

Caro, often credited with reinventing the art of political biography, won numerous awards, including a National Book Critics Circle Award (1982) for The Path to Power, a National Book Critics Circle Award (1990) for Means of Ascent, a National Book Award (2002) and Pulitzer Prize (2003) for Master of the Senate, the National Humanities Medal (2009), and a National Book Critics Circle Award (2012) for The Passage of Power.

Top 49 Robert Caro quotes

As you get older, you sometimes feel that it's harder and harder to get something new and wonderful to come into your life.
Come
Feel
Get
Harder
Life
New
Older
Something
Something new
Sometimes
Wonderful
You
Your
At the ballet, you really feel like you're in the presence of something outside the rest of your life. Higher than the rest of your life.
Ballet
Feel
Higher
Life
Like
Outside
Presence
Really
Rest
Something
Than
You
Your
Ballet is sort of a mystery to me. And I don't want to unravel that mystery.
Ballet
Me
Mystery
Sort
Unravel
Want
Everyone believed the Senate could not really be led. It used to take so long to rise up through seniority. In two years Lyndon Johnson is assistant leader of his party. In four years he is the leader of his party.
Assistant
Believed
Could
Everyone
Four
He
His
Johnson
Leader
Led
Long
Lyndon
Lyndon johnson
Party
Everything seems to be going faster and faster. It's really harder to create something that endures. The New York City Ballet has succeeded in doing that.
Ballet
City
Create
Doing
Endures
Everything
Faster
Going
Harder
New
New york
New york city
New york city ballet
Really
I deliberately made an effort not to become an expert on the ballet.
Ballet
Become
Deliberately
Effort
Expert
Made
I like new ballets because they're totally new. As you get older, new experiences are harder and harder to come by, so it's pretty great to have a new experience.
Because
Come
Experience
Experiences
Get
Great
Harder
Like
New
Older
Pretty
Totally
You
I never wanted to do biography just to tell the life of a famous man. I always wanted to use the life of a man to examine political power, because democracy shapes our lives.
Always
Because
Biography
Democracy
Examine
Famous
Just
Life
Lives
Man
Never
Our
Our lives
Political
I never went to a ballet until I was 45 years old. I don't know why.
Ballet
Know
Never
Old
Until
Why
Years
I really wanted there to be something in my life that I enjoy just for the beauty of it.
Beauty
Enjoy
Just
Life
My life
Really
Something
Wanted
I sometimes feel that if your book sells more than 20 years, then there's something in it that you can say, gee, I did something that endures, that's timeless.
Book
Did
Endures
Feel
Gee
More
Say
Sells
Something
Sometimes
Than
Then
Timeless
Years
I was trying to learn about Lyndon Johnson when he was young and creating his first political machine in the Texas hill country. I moved there for three years. You had to learn that world.
About
Country
Creating
First
Had
He
Hill
His
Johnson
Learn
Lyndon
Lyndon johnson
Machine
Moved
Lyndon Johnson, as majority leader of the United States Senate, he made the Senate work.
He
Johnson
Leader
Lyndon
Lyndon johnson
Made
Majority
Senate
States
United
United states
United states senate
Work
My predictions are notably inaccurate.
Inaccurate
Predictions
Robert Moses wasn't elected to anything. We're taught that in a democracy power comes from being elected. He had more power than anyone, and he held it for 48 years.
Anyone
Anything
Being
Democracy
Elected
Had
He
Held
More
More power
Moses
Power
Robert
Taught
Sometimes during a ballet I'll look around and see all these rows of intent faces, concentrating on this beautiful thing up on the stage.
Around
Ballet
Beautiful
Beautiful thing
Concentrating
Faces
Intent
Look
Rows
See
Sometimes
Stage
Thing
Up
The ballet embodies the notes of music. And sometimes you almost feel like you can see the notes dance up there on the stage.
Almost
Ballet
Dance
Embodies
Feel
Like
Music
Notes
See
Sometimes
Stage
Up
You
The moment the curtain rose on that first ballet, I knew something wonderful and new had come into my life. I can still see the first scene. The ballet was Divertimento No. 15.
Ballet
Come
Curtain
First
Had
I can
Knew
Life
Moment
My life
New
Rose
Scene
See
The New York City Ballet is obviously speaking to a whole new generation and bringing it the same wonder and beauty that it brought previous generations.
Ballet
Beauty
Bringing
Brought
City
Generation
Generations
New
New generation
New york
New york city
New york city ballet
Obviously
Previous
The Senate is an unknowing world.
Senate
World
You come in off the street, through the doors of the theater. You sit down. The lights go down and the curtain goes up. And you're in another world.
Another
Come
Curtain
Doors
Down
Go
Goes
Lights
Off
Sit
Street
The doors
Theater
Through
Most Sundays, with the exception of football Sundays, I work, because I don't take days off as long as I'm working on something that's supposed to be all in the same mood.
Because
Days
Exception
Football
Long
Mood
Most
Off
Same
Something
Sundays
Supposed
Take
Work
If things are going well, if the writing's coming along, I jump out of bed happy. And if the previous day has been bad, I get out of bed disgruntled.
Along
Bad
Bed
Been
Coming
Day
Get
Going
Happy
Has-been
Jump
Out
Previous
Things
If it's coming near the end of a chapter and I'm really getting into it, I tend to get up earlier and earlier, just because I'm excited to get to work.
Because
Chapter
Coming
Earlier
End
Excited
Get
Getting
Just
Just because
Near
Really
Tend
Up
I used to work very long hours. Then I started to realize that the stuff that I was writing in the late afternoons, I was generally throwing out. So I quit earlier than I used to.
Afternoon
Earlier
Generally
Hours
I quit
Late
Long
Long hours
Out
Quit
Realize
Started
Stuff
Than
Long Island is shaped the way it is largely because of Robert Moses. Long Island is a perfect example of how political power shapes people's lives every day.
Because
Day
Every
Every day
Example
How
Island
Largely
Lives
Long
Long island
Moses
People
Perfect
If you really want to show power in its larger aspects, you need to show the effects on the powerless, for good or ill - the human cost of public works. That's what I try to do, show not only how power works but its effect on people.
Aspects
Cost
Effect
Effects
Good
How
Human
Ill
Larger
Need
Only
People
Power
Powerless
It's very easy to fool yourself that you're working, you know, when you're really not working very hard. I mean, I'm very lazy. So for me, I would always have an excuse, you know, to go - quit early, go to a museum, you know. So I do everything I can to make myself remember this is a job. I keep a schedule.
Always
Early
Easy
Everything
Excuse
Fool
Go
Hard
I can
Job
Keep
Know
Lazy
Make
You know, my first three or four drafts, you can see, are on legal pads in long hand. And then I go to a typewriter, and I know everybody's switching to a computer. And I'm sort of laughed at.
Computer
Drafts
Everybody
First
Four
Go
Hand
Know
Laughed
Legal
Long
Pads
See
Sort
Every president has to live with the result of what Lyndon Johnson did with Vietnam, when he lost the trust of the American people in the presidency.
American
American people
Did
Every
He
Johnson
Live
Lost
Lyndon
Lyndon johnson
People
Presidency
President
Result
I think President Obama has done more than he is given credit for.
Credit
Done
Given
He
I think
More
Obama
President
President obama
Than
Think
Nobody believes this, but I write very fast.
Believes
Fast
I write
Nobody
Very
Write
Whenever I go to work I wear a jacket and a tie, because I'm inherently quite lazy, and my books take so long to do, and my publishers don't bug me, so it's so easy to fool yourself into thinking you're working harder than you really are.
Because
Books
Bug
Easy
Fool
Go
Harder
Inherently
Jacket
Lazy
Long
Me
Publishers
Quite
I finish what I have to do in the office.
Finish
Office
I try to have a mood or a rhythm for a chapter.
Chapter
Mood
Rhythm
Try
There's a real feeling when you know you're getting it right. It's a physical feeling.
Feeling
Getting
Know
Physical
Real
Real feeling
Right
You
I trained myself to be organized.
Myself
Organized
Trained
I am trying to make clear through my writing something which I believe: that biography- history in general- can be literature in the deepest and highest sense of that term.
Am
Believe
Biography
Clear
Deepest
General
Highest
History
I am
I believe
I believe that
Literature
Make
Sense
What would be the good of rushing? You want these books to last.
Books
Good
Last
Rushing
Want
Would
Would-be
You
You can use a biography to examine political power, but only if you pick the right guy.
Biography
Examine
Guy
Only
Pick
Political
Political power
Power
Right
Right guy
Use
You
Someday a political genius will come along and make the Senate work.
Along
Come
Genius
Make
Political
Senate
Someday
Will
Work
The right of a minority is so important in a democracy.
Democracy
Important
Minority
Right
I don't think of my books as being biographies. I never had any interest in doing a book just to write the life of a great man. I had zero interest in that. My interest is in power. How power works.
Any
Being
Biographies
Book
Books
Doing
Great
Great man
Had
How
Interest
Just
Life
Man
We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. Power can cleanse. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals.
About
Absolute
Absolute power
Absolute power corrupts
Absolutely
Always
Any
Axiom
Believe
Believed
Books
Cleanse
Corrupt
Corrupts
In a democracy, supposedly we hold power by what we do at the ballot box, so therefore the more we know about political power the better our choices should be and the better, in theory, our democracy should be.
About
Ballot
Ballot box
Better
Box
Choices
Democracy
Hold
Know
More
Our
Political
Political power
Power
There used to be this feeling under Eisenhower and Kennedy and Roosevelt and Truman that government was a solution. Trust in the presidency fell precipitously under Johnson - real lows. And it's never come back. It's a trend that, if you're liberal, is really discouraging.
Back
Come
Discouraging
Eisenhower
Feeling
Fell
Government
Johnson
Kennedy
Liberal
Lows
Never
Presidency
Real
You know, we're taught that in a democracy power comes from being elected.
Being
Democracy
Elected
Know
Power
Taught
You
Now, for this book I had to learn the world of the Senate, which is really for all that's written about the Senate, an unknowing world and its mores, and the way things work with subcommittees and all. I loved learning about that.
About
Book
Had
Learn
Learning
Loved
Now
Really
Senate
Things
Way
Which
Work
World
When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do.
Always
Enough
Guy
Power
See
Then
Wanted
You

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