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On Power

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  878 ratings  ·  116 reviews
1 hour and 42 minutes
From two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time National Book Award winner Robert A. Caro: a short, penetrating reflection on the evolution and workings of political power - for good and for ill.
In On Power, from Audible Original Publishing, the legendary historian Robert A. Caro reflects on what drew him as a young journalist to study political
Audible Audio
Published May 9th 2017 by Audible Studios
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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J.L.   Sutton
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating account of progress, political calculus and broken lives. Robert Caro's On Power serves as both an overview of his Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic investigations of urban planner, Robert Moses, and Congressman/Senator/Vice-President and President, Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as what happens when people get caught "in power's path." In doing so, he looks at the human price of progress for such things as roads which divide and sometimes destroy neighborhoods. Specifically, ...more
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed reading Robert A. Caros series of biographies of Lyndon Johnson. I have yet to read his other book on Robert Moses. Caro has won two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards. This is an essay on the evolution and workings of political power for good and ill. Caro put it together from several speeches he made recently. He tells about how he and his wife work together. She is the only one he trusts to do research for him.

Caro tells of his decade long quest to understand how
"The more that America understands about political power, the better informed our votes will be. And then, hopefully, the better our democracy should be."
- Robert Caro, On Power


This was produced as an hour and forty-three minute "Audible Original" looking at the major theme of Robert Caro's political biographries: power. There is no paperback or little hardback associated with this, it is only on Audible. So, if you are as craven a fan of Caro as I am, it doesn't really matter. You will get it
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This turned out to be a biography of his time writing his longer books. Reading about his passion for understanding political power, and in particular his thoughts on how LBJ was so effective in passing laws and what the construction of city streets have to do with power, I feel compelled to read his longer books. When he got to the last words, which were about power and equality, I found myself saying aloud, "Yes!" But, then this tiny booklet was over. I definitely need to read more.
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Caro has done a great job of selling his books in this audio essay, adapted from a couple of speeches he has given. I have been putting off reading his books because they are so huge and intimidating. But after listening to Caro talk about how he came to write about two icons of power, Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, I can't wait to start them. If you haven't read his work, this is a nice place to start and get a feel for his style of writing and what motivates him. If you have read his work, I ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
In On Power Robert Caro offers the reader an explanation of his writing philosophy, as well as some behind-the-scenes stories from the writing is best known works. The main tenant of his writing is the effect of political power upon the powerless. In order to study the effects of this political power he knew he had to start by examining the lives of those who wielded it to find out how they got to the top of their profession. In telling the story of Robert Morris he quickly realized that it lent ...more
Rachel Aranda
This was a book I bought for $1 from Audible. In truth, I wasn't expecting much since I had never heard about Robert Caro, and the main reason I bought it was because I liked his voice. I find it quite clear and nice to listen to in truth. This experience was really similar to listening to a guest speaker at University and it wasn't boring or disappointing. This is a compilation of some speeches that summarize how Mr. Caro got started writing about political power, a little of what he has ...more
Lis Carey
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Robert Caro, author of groundbreaking, monumental biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, talks about the origins, creation, and use of political power. It's short (under two hours), insightful, funny, and enlightening. Caro talks about his own development as a reporter, researcher, and writer, including the experience of an early, temporary job as a speechwriter of an unnamed local political boss, which changed the direction of his career early on.

His views continued to grow and change
Chad Gagnon
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Captivating short story about the rise of a storied journalist, the master builder, and the wonder boy of politics. Caro has certainly captured my interest and appreciation for his writing style; Ill be back for more. ...more
Joe Kraus
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I confess: I havent read either of Robert Caros reputed master projects for the simple reason that they seem too long. Hes gotten famous for the biography of Lyndon Johnson that seems never to end. (He jokes here that hes on volume five of a projected two-volume work.) And he made his name by calling on us to rethink the role of Robert Moses in remaking New York city and state.

Id like to read them, especially the Moses since it touches so much on the way cities get remade and reimagined in what
May 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
For a rabid Robert Caro fan like myself, there's not much new to be found in "On Power," his new "book," an Audible-exclusive audiobook clocking in at just under two hours. It's more like an extended podcast episode, with Caro riffing on the familiar theme that permeates his work: many say that power corrupts, but what is more true is that power reveals.

Many of the anecdotes about Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson that Caro tells here are watered-down versions of memorable sections of his books.
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
A positively enchanting vignette read by Robert Caro. Perhaps the best way to describe this is as Caro's mini-intellectual history. He tells the story of his early days of journalism, how he came to write his great books on Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, and the themes across those books that motivated him. The glimpses into Caro's process and the lives and impact of both Moses and Johnson are captivating. Now I can't wait to read those books, whenever I find the time and bravery to dive ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Caro looked back his career of biographic author in this short audiobook. He explained why he chose to profile Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson in his long career. Mr. Caro's fans will appreciate the piece. Readers who are not familiar with his work (like me) will find him intriguing.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Journalists, good-old boys, robber barons, LBJ fans
I had never heard of Robert Caro, but after listening to this short Audible Original, in which he talks about his (apparently very famous) volumes about New York tycoon Robert Moses, and Lyndon Johnson, damned if I don't want to.

Caro, in his very New Yawk accent, talks about how he, as an up-and-coming journalist in the late 60s and early 70s, woke to his desire to be a truth-teller and a crusader, an idealist who literally walked away from a cushy job when he realized it was cushy because it
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is less than 2-hour audible original in which Caro talks about how he became and author and how he came to write biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. How he came to write the biographies has a lot to do with figuring out what was behind each man's political power. He also explains how he came to write this biographies as biographies of the times the two men lived, as well as biographies of the individuals. While I haven't read Caro's book about Moses, I have read the four ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"On Power" is really an extended essay in which Robert Caro talks about his early career and how he came to choose the topics that he has written about for the past forty years. He is a fascinating raconteur, bringing a very human and humane sense to his writing. The essay's main concern is how he came to see important political issues in the lives of larger than life people. How political power is wielded, for good and ill, is something to should concern us all.
Highly recommended. Now I just
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-memoir
An Audible exclusive, less than 2 hours. Although it has the weighty name "On Power" this is really a personal reminiscence by Caro of how he came to write massive biographes of Robert Moses and Lyndon Baines Johnson (ongoing) and what he learned upon the way. He discusses how power can accomplish great good, but also cause great harm using examples he found in his research. Caro is not a professional narrator (he often steps back too far from the mike and has a classic NYC accent) but he grows ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, history
Wow, this was a wonderful little memoir on what it takes to write history and to find a mission in your writing. It has really encouraged me to get back to that dissertation and try to get it published. CI also want to read his LBJ series.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A short, compelling discussion of how he came to study political power and why it matters (it affects people lives for good or ill!). Caro's books on Robert Moses and LBJ are monsters, and I've been getting my motivation up to tackle them for years. I like Caro's narrative voice and his storytelling style, so I think this has pushed me to finally start them.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this short audio book narrated by Robert Caro. Fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, and into Caro's creative process and development as a writer.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is a very quick read about Robert Caro's path to visualizing the role of power and brokering power in United States politics. I have found it very relevant.
Tom Walsh
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
Interesting background to his biography of Robert Moses. Very much a New York story.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Robert Caro fans
Shelves: audiobooks-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Willian Molinari
Not that much to learn from this "book".

It's really small (almost two hours of audio) and looks like an abridged version of a collection of other books. I'm not American, so I'm not part of the context or his target audience and maybe it also plays some role here.

The whole thing about the electricity was a reality for my mom (and for me when I visited my grandparents as a child) in Brazil, it may be shocking to people living in New York nowadays but I already knew all of that in my own context.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Really enjoyed this (very) short book by Robert Caro. I listened to the audiobook I should add. Robert provides a brief overview of how power has been wielded in New York by Robert Moses and on a National scale by Lyndon Johnson. He also talks about his personal journey writing a book on Moses.

Worth a read/listen.
Chris Esposo
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating account of Robert Caro's work into writing his two books, "Power Broker" on the corrupt dealings of Robert Moses in NYC, and his multi-volume biography of LBJ. Caro uses these two men as examples of power wielded poorly and an example of it used wisely.

Moses' used his power to destroy the lives of many dozens of poor farmers in the lower Hudson Valley by building a highway through their land, so he could avoid placing the path of the highway on or near the whitespace acres of a few
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Robert Caro wrote The Power Broker, a biography of Robert Moses, who builds much of the infrastructure of the New York City area. He is also in the process of writing a five volume work of the life of Lyndon Johnson. Both of these books are an exploration of political power and they are both fascinating. Caro should have received a book award in biography for every one of the Johnson volumes, but of course, the ones who give the awards couldnt really do that.

At any rate, this book is a short
David Munch
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-on-audiobook
It was okay, but nothing exceptional. It came across as a weird mix of a biography, personal self praise, and random small anecdotes. Sure that was some interesting insights, but it was so superficial than I didn't really feel I gained much from listening to it, and it left me with more questions than answers. Fortunately, it was a quick one.

The sound level was going up and down in periodes, and you could hear the narrator sitting closer or further away from the microphone, which was somewhat
Bruce Harpham
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Robert Caro is the author behind outstanding biographies like "The Power Broker" and the lauded multi-volume biography of US President Lyndon Johnson. In this audiobook, Caro shares his story and reflects on his career. As an author, it was fascinating to hear about Caro's research process and dedication to work. For example, he moved from New York to Texas in order to carry out research on the LBJ biography. While I liked the book overall, I felt the title - "On Power" - is somewhat misleading. ...more
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty quick audio book from Audible. It's a quick history of the author, by himself, narrated by himself. It's a version of what I would expect if he were a guest speaker at a set of lectures - albeit maybe an hour longer.
It didn't feel too long. It was interesting to hear/read Caro talk about what led him to what he does. Only spot that seemed to go long was when Caro spends time quoting his own writing or audio tapes he's used in research. They're interesting, but they add length to his
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A former investigative reporter for Newsday, Robert Caro is the author of The Power Broker (1974), a biography of the urban planner Robert Moses which he won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize. President Obama said that he read the biography when he was 22 years old and that the book "mesmerized" him. Obama said, "I'm sure it helped to shape how I think about politics."

Caro has also written four biographies

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