Robert A. Caro's Working
Robert A. Caro’s book, Working, is a gift to inspiring writers, and, with a page count just over 200 pages, it is his shortest book to-date. In Working, Caro goes into detail on how he came to write and then succeeded in writing, about two historical and powerful men, Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson.
His persistence and guiding principle to “turn every page” led him to write over a thousand pages on one of New York’s most powerful and secretive men. It enabled him to discover aspects of LBJ’s life that seven (at the time) other biographies on the same man had failed to provide. By the end of this book, you do not doubt as to why he won two Pulitzer Prizes and with a set of five new books to read.
Working is for the writer who is tired of people asking when the book will be done. The Power Broker took seven years to complete, and Caro is currently working on the fifth volume of his LBJ series. Caro describes traveling the country interviewing people—even moving to Hill Country for three years so he could gain the trust of the people he wanted to interview. And if that is not enough dedication to the craft of research, Caro also shares how he writes, which is by hand, and then on his typewriter.
Most surprising of all is Caro’s focus on what he calls ‘a sense of place.’ Typically, settings are for fiction and facts are for non-fiction, but Caro argues that setting—painting a scene—is even more critical in non-fiction. Caro interviews the same people repeatedly, asking thee questions over and over trying to understand the moments that shape history. Caro’s resilience leads to some uncomfortable truths about power, truths that not only impacted the people of the time but continue to affect us all now.