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Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  4,147 ratings  ·  661 reviews

Robert A. Caro, 'one of the great reporters of our time and probably the greatest biographer’ (Sunday Times), is one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation, whose biographies are widely considered to be masterpieces.

In Working he offers a captivating account of his life as a writer, describing the sometimes staggering lengths to which he has gone in order to

Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published April 25th 2019 by Vintage Digital (first published April 9th 2019)
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Average rating 4.43  · 
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 ·  4,147 ratings  ·  661 reviews

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"Turn every page. Never assume anyhting. Turn every goddamned page"
- Alan Hathaway, quoted by Robert Caro, Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing


It is weird to give a Caro book only four stars. I've read nearly everyhing (except the big Whale: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York) he's writing and it seems nearly perfect. He is one of my favorite writers of nonfiction ever. His fanatacism to his craft is incredible. His old-school approach to research and writing is fant
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Caro is one of my favorite biographers. In this book Caro discusses his life but mostly provides information about how he and his wife do research about a topic. The number one take away I got from this book is do not hurry, take your time and do it right. He tells of hours in the archives, reading other people’s work, newspaper articles, diaries and letters. He also tells of traveling around doing interviews with people. He spent years doing the research, gathering material, organizing i ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think Caro is the greatest living writer out there (may he live forever--or until he finishes the last Johnson book). A lot of material in this book is old stuff--include in his other books or periodicals, but it's still wonderful to have it compiled in one place. My favorite essay in this collection was the one about importance of place where he talks about how living in the Hill Country and experiencing the barrenness of the land helped him understand Johnson's superhuman vote counting abili ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lately, a daily ritual for me is to offer a simple, silent supplication or prayer for two people of advanced age – two people I have never met, and whom I am sure I never will meet. I pray that they will live several more years in good health with continued mental acuity.

Robert Caro is one of these people. At age 83 he is still a few years from finishing the fifth and final book in his series The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Eight to twelve years elapsed between the publication of each of the first
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, biography
Working by Robert Caro is a riveting book that basically highlights his career of bringing us no less than two Pulitzer prize winning biographies among his most commendable body of work. Caro was intrigued by power and his first biography was that of Robert Moses, who essentially built New York City. His next endeavor was the extensive biographies of Lyndon Baines Johnson. I must say that I have a lot of very dear historians that I have been drawn to over the years, but this biographer stands ap ...more
Chris Molnar
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an odds-and-ends collection that functions as a brief Making Of documentary companion to his epic (and essential) Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson biographies. The recent New Yorker excerpt is essentially a more narrative alternate version, seamlessly combining information from many of the brief essays into one continuous story. The book is more scattered and not as elegant, but all the additional information is equally fascinating and a real tease for whatever extended memoir he's workin ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Having discovered the wonders of Robert A. Caro a number of years ago, I vowed that I would read all that he had written. Beginning with his work on Robert Moses, I was pulled into the intricate world of a biography that sought not only to explore the world of this powerful urban planner within New York State’s political realm, but also the personal aspects that drove the man to shape such change. While the book was massive, Caro’s writing made it come to life for me. Thereafter, I began the col ...more
Laura Noggle
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, history, nonfiction
My first Robert Caro book and, dare I say, not my last?

Beyond interesting, Caro takes the reader behind the scenes into his process.

Caro's thoughts on what great writing entails: “Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters. All these things we talk about with novels, yet I feel that for history and biography to accomplish what they should accomplish, they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do.”

A two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning author (The Power Broker and The Year
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To look at the cover of this, you might think 'Dull, dry.' Not a bit of it. If you have any interest in writing, researching, why you might feel compelled to write or spend your days rolling around in words, or what makes a legendary writer tick, this is highly recommended. ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
Thoughts soon.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What this does, more than anything, is make you appreciate the craft that Caro puts into his work. Most of these essays, interviews, and passages were printed elsewhere and have been collected into this short volume. Some are original to the book, though. He is also driven by a force which he isn't even able to identify to flesh out the lives, locales, and intricacies surrounding his subjects.

Caro has written five biographies, not including this slim volume. Four are about Lyndon Johnson (he's
Sean O
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew who Robert Caro was, but I hadn't read any of his books. Then recently I heard an interview with him on a Conan O'Brien podcast, of all things.

He sounded really interesting, so I added his mini-memoir "Working" to my holds list at the library.

Well, he's such a good writer that I'm guessing I'm stuck reading all his books now.

The only reason it's four stars instead of five is because I wanted more.
Jordan Schneider
A brief window into a life well lived.

His readers’ reactions to the women of hill county chapter are as good a rebuttal as anyone needs to those who don’t understand how important economic development is.

“Just remember, turn every page.”

Pleasure to listen to how lovingly he speaks of his wife.

“Silence is the weapon.” He writes “su” for shut up in his notebooks.

Get a sense of place by asking people “what did you see” and “what did you hear”

Carbon copies in 79th street boat basin of all of Moses’
Stephen Power
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The value here isn’t in just the words. It’s in Caro’s voice. That’s New York.
Frank Stein
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For Caro, this is a remarkably thin book. He said he wrote it to get down few thoughts on his researching and writing process before he died. The truth is, about half the book is made up of previously published magazine articles, many of which themselves trod over territory from his books, and much of the remainder was just published in a New Yorker article. I imagine the impetus for the book might have been financial.

Still, Caro is a wonderful writer, and it's fascinating to get a glimpse of hi
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-books
I was so excited for this book. So looking forward to reading more of Caro's beautiful, distinctive writing. He intends to write a Caro-length memoir - and candidly acknowledges that this short book exists in case he runs out of time. I could have read another thousand pages of his methods and anecdotes.

I'm a working historian. I loved his stories of finding buried treasure, convincing a reluctant source to talk, the feeling you get when you figure out how to communicate something to your audie
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Summary: Less a full biographical memoir than a description of the author's methods of researching material for his books, writing them, and the question that has driven his work.

It seems that I have been reading one of Robert A. Caro's books from time to time since I moved to my current home town nearly thirty years ago. He has been writing them even longer. The four volumes in print of his Years of Lyndon Johnson. His massive The Power Broker on the life and pervasive influence of Robert Moses
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I was disappointed with the way this book was going. Caro seemed to be re-hashing scenes from his biographies with some first person commentary thrown in. TELL ME HOW TO BE A GREAT WRITER, I wanted to shout. Give me the key! Tell me the secret! Do all the legwork so I can take the credit! Etc., etc.

This is not a how-to book. Think of it as a director's cut. A compendium of extra interviews that come at the end of a movie. Framed this way, I was able to see more clearly the genius of wha
Jeff Swartz
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have grown up reading Robert Caro. This is both a great introduction to Caro and a great extra if you’ve read the Moses and Johnson bios.
He does a great job of explaining how he works. Fascinating and fun.
Such a treat to hear this in his voice. Much reused material but I hadn’t read what is here republished, and, damn it, the man has demands on his time! Some dramatic turning points with great stories attached. Particularly memorable as to his formative years and method are his big break in investigative journalism after being written off as an Ivy League know-nothing, his resignation from the position of speechwriter after witnessing firsthand the racism of his erstwhile political boss, and the ...more
Jak Krumholtz
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Caro is amazing. I limit myself to one book of his a year to remind myself just how special he is. This collection is an overview in his process of creating masterpieces and I found it insightful. Although tempting as it’s bite-sized I don’t recommend starting here for Caro, this is better appreciated after reading a couple full books first to see what his method produces.

“I never thought of my books as Robert Moses & Lyndon Johnson. I thought of writing biographies as means of illuminating the
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was disappointing. I could explain in more detail but am reluctant to do so for fear of discouraging others from reading a book where they may find insight that I have missed, or strike a chord of resonance where I landed flat.
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I’m now feeling inspired to up my writing game and dig in to some chunky gorgeous non-fiction.

Dan Downing
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winning a Pulitzer prize is a big deal for writers. Winning two is outstanding. Scarfing up two for the first four books you write, of a total of five, is huge. In Robert A. Caro's case, he has written his sixth book, a much different deal than his first five.
"Working" is brief, personal, insightful and quite well written, a Caro hallmark. In it, he describes his larger goal, beyond simple biography. For his legion of fans, he has met his goal and more: those who read about Robert Moses learned
Alex MacMillan
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Caro is notorious for being meticulous with his research, passionate about his writing, and indefatigable in his pursuit of the truth. Here, the world’s greatest living biographer takes a break from writing the final volume his of LBJ biographies to explain how the sausage gets made, revealing the persistence and sheer luck that it took for Robert and his wife to create timeless classics. He shares the choicest anecdotes from his decades of muckraking, detailing the months and years of inves ...more
Susan O
"Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters. All these things we talk about with novels, yet I feel that for history or biography to accomplish what they should accomplish, they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do." p 193 of Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing

Having read 5 of Caro's works - The Power Broker and the 4 LBJ volumes - I hesitated to give this book a 5 simply because of its length. It didn't have that deeply satisfying feeling of sinking into
John of Canada
This is my favourite book of 2020.Clear writing,insights that seem so obvious after he pointed them out,and it's a really good view of the love he has for his wife.Fans of John McPhee should enjoy this.A very human book. ...more
Robert Caro is wired differently. This is the book he wrote with his left hand while his right hand was scouring the Johnson archive for the smoking gun on Vietnam. It's a collection of (mostly previously published) recollections, anecdotes, and lessons from half a century of "researching, interviewing, writing." Weighing in at under three hundred pages, it's a slim volume by Caro's standards. Nevertheless, it manages to be very repetitious, but no worse off for it. Caro has led a unique life, a ...more
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book ever since I heard he was (ahem) working on it. I was a little disappointed that some of this material has been previously published—and as recently-converted Caro fan I’ve read it all—but I’m glad it’s all compiled here in one book. This isn’t the memoir that Caro would someday like to write, but at 83, with his fifth and final LBJ volume still years from completion, he wanted to share a few things from his work on his Robert Moses and LBJ biographies—really ...more
Andrew Pratley
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If like me you have read the 4 volumes of the biography Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro you will understand much about both men. I have yet to read Caro's biography of Robert Moses & after reading this book my appetite has been further whetted.

Robert Caro is dogged & persistent. He pays great attention to what he writes & how he writes it. He is a master of his form. As an amateur historian who has never written anything longer than a very long essay Caro is both an inspiration & an exemplar.

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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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38 likes · 11 comments
“the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, a liberal immigration bill, some seventy different education bills—they’re all passed during the 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson.” 2 likes
“But when I began researching Robert Moses’ expressway-building, and kept reading, in textbook after textbook, some version of the phrase “the human cost of highways” with never a detailed examination of what the “human cost” truly consisted of or of how it stacked up against the benefits of highways, I found myself simply unable to go forward to the next chapter. I felt I just had to try to show—to make readers not only see but understand and feel—what “human cost” meant.” 2 likes
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