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Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  1,369 ratings  ·  210 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 pr

Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Published April 25th 2019 by Vintage Digital (first published April 9th 2019)
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 ·  1,369 ratings  ·  210 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 fanta
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Anthony Connolly
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt rather cheesy reading this Caro book having not read any of the famed biographer's works on Robert Moses or LBJ. I've read "about" Robert A. Caro's prize-winning and highly lauded books on political power; and, I read about Caro's famous slow writing process -- he researches his subjects to death, turning every page of extant documents to find his material; he writes longhand, and then types his manuscripts on a Smith-Corona Electra 210 electric typewriter. The book is intended as a backg ...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’
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
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
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
Bob Kuster
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are anxiously waiting for the fifth volume of the The Years of Lyndon Johnson series, you will want to read Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing. Robert Caro is a national treasure. This book answers the question why is there no fifth volume yet. This book also helps explain why I cannot read any biography or non fiction book without thinking "it was a good read but I needed more. I needed the book to be caro'ed", meaning I did not feel as if I was in the room experiencing the even ...more
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
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.

Bud Smith
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book “on writing” I know of. Passion, tenacity, determination. The importance of turning every page, of understanding duality, of seeking truth despite its inconvenience. This is the pure stuff. The hard stuff. Thanks Bob Caro.
Talia Carner
Unlike Robert Caro’s other tomes, this 240-page account of the his writing journey is a bite-size—and a delicious one.
Due to our close last names, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a display table with Caro at a yearly literary event—until his piles of door-stopper books became even bigger with each published title, forcing the organizers to give him his own table, (then two of them,) while I shared a table with his wife, Ina Caro, an excellent researcher whose Paris guide book helped me redisc
Andrew Langert
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by my nephew, who is aware that I am trying to write a non-fiction book about a very accomplished man. By the title of the book, I was expecting to learn a lot about Robert Caro’s techniques, how he put together his books. There was a good amount of that in this book. But he also talked a lot about his subjects, being Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. He also explained that he wasn’t writing about them as much as he was writing about political power, how such power ...more
Brian Willis
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you have read any of Caro's five massive and massively important biographies (one on Robert Moses, and four and counting on LBJ), this brief 2007 collection of essays and an interview by Caro on his working methods are essential.

And if you simply want great insight in how to write non-fiction in gripping, inclusive, evocative prose, this book is also for you.

Caro has always been focused incisively on power: not democratic power, but the power wielded by people placed in offices of power that
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: I have never read a Caro book, but I have admire him from a distance thru interviews etc. I just can't devote that much time or brain space to Robert Moses or LBJ. I just can't.

Caro is my kind of writer, a thorough researcher. He wants the reader to see it and to feel the moment. This often causes him to go down rabbit holes of research, which extends how long it takes for him to write. Caro has sold his home to have income, moved from New York City to Texas Hill Country and has devoted th
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pulitzer Prize author Robert Caro is among the most esteemed biographers, famous for his works on Robert Moses and LBJ. In this brief collection of his writings (200 pages may be the shortest of his seminal works!), Caro turns from the work of other figures to himself. Though repetitive at times on certain points due to the nature of the work as a collection of essays and interviews, here we gain a glimpse into the character and methods that have made Caro the respected authority on the wielding ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Don't read this book on the page. Listen to Robert Caro's gravelly voice, his New York accent. Listen to him tell how he does his work, "turning every page," illuminating the lives of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. While some of this material has been published before in the New Yorker and in the Paris Review, if you are a Caro fan--or even if you aren't but are interested in how writers write, this is your book.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great pastiche of advice and remembrances from one of the greatest biographers. However, I have to admit that finally learning about his wife, Ina, about how she worked side by side with him on every book while also stretching their meager finances, I really want to read a book by her or about her (or both!).
Margery Osborne
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read a lot of this as excerpts in the New yorker and honestly i liked in better in small doses. Still Caro is one of my heroes and learning about his process, especially in such entertaining prose is pretty great. I do wish he had written a bio of de Gaulle!
Jason Allison
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible, eminently readable glimpse into how one of the greatest storytellers of our age produces his considerable (The Power Broker was originally over a millions words!) output. I devoured this and you will too, whether you’re a writer or not.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Loved his authorial "voice" so much, I ran out and bought a copy of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. Now, I'm just working up my courage to dive into that massive tome.
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: Working by Robert A. Caro 1 1 Jun 11, 2019 04:21PM  
He's the author of The Power Broker (1974), for which he won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize. It's a biography of Robert Moses, an urban planner and leading builder of New York City. 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 on Lyndo
“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
“After a while, the writers of the Allen Room invited me to lunch, which we thereafter ate almost every day in the employees’ cafeteria in the library basement. These writers included not just some who were already famous, but some who were, at the time, little better known than I was, like John Demaray, Lucy Komisar, Irene Mahoney and Susan Brownmiller, who was working on Against Our Will and would sit at the desk adjoining mine for the next two years, her petite feet, clad in brightly striped socks, sticking under the partition that divided our desks, giving me an odd feeling of companionship.” 1 likes
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