Notes from Evan Smith
"Robert A. Caro, biographer of President Lyndon B. Johnson, graduated from Princeton University. He later became a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and was investigative reporter for Newsday.
While he wrote his first book, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974), Caro spent seven years talking with hundreds of men and women who worked with, for, or against Robert Moses, and examined mountains of files never open to the public.
In 1974, The Power Broker won the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the Francis Parkman Prize, which is awarded by the Society of American Historians to the book that, "best exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist."
The Power Broker "is surely the greatest book ever written about a city,." said David Halberstam.
Richard C. Wade wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the Twentieth Century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort."
It was also chosen as one of the "One Hundred Greatest Books of the Century" by the Modern Library.
To research The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Caro and his wife, Ina, moved from his native New York to Texas and then to Washington, to live in the locales in which Johnson grew up and to immerse himself in Johnson's world.
He has spent years examining documents at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin and he has interviewed thousands of people connected with Johnson's life, many of whom had never before been interviewed. Both the first and second volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson received the National Book Critics Circle Award, "for the Most Distinguished Non-Fiction Work of the Year," the first for 1982, the second for 1990.
The first volume, The Path to Power, was cited by The Washington Post as, "proof that we live in a great age of biography...[a book] of radiant excellence...Caro's evocation of the Texas Hill Country, his elaboration of Johnson's unsleeping ambition, his understanding of how politics actually works, are -- let it be said flat-out -- at the summit of American historical writing."
Professor Henry F. Graff of Columbia University called volume two, Means of Ascent, "Brilliant. No brief review does justice to the drama of the story Caro is telling, which is nothing less than how present-day politics was born."
Caro has also won the H.L. Mencken Award and the Carr P. Collins Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. In honoring Caro with an Award in Literature, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters said: "His ambitious biography of Lyndon Johnson promises to be one of the great political and social biographies of our day. Mr. Caro, trained as a reporter, is turning out to be one of the most accomplished and, above all, effective historical scholars we have."
Caro, who had served as president of the Authors Guild of America and as Vice President of PEN, is now at work on the fourth volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Presidency. " - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 5.15.03