The Fall 2006 Virginia Blogosphere Book Fair is right around the corner, and we will be offering a list of books for consideration.
In the meantime, I want to make a recommendation to you that will educate, enlighten, and delight you.
Go out and purchase, borrow, or check out from your nearest library all of Robert Caro’s books and start reading them.
It is not just that his books offer excellent writing. It is not that he is able to capture times in our history with a feel that is both deft and powerful. It is not that his constant inquiries into power, its use, and its effect are incisive and telling.
No, you should do it for the biographies within the biographies.
In the movie “The Wind and the Lion” Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt says that, upon hearing that he likes J.P. Morgan,
“The road traveled by great men is dark … and lonely … and lit, only at intervals, by other great men … and sometimes they are your enemy.”
Mr. Caro apparently believes this, as he uses this idea as a building block in all his books.
Mr. Caro has written four books, and is at work on a fifth. One is a biography of Robert Caro, the other three and part of a four book bio of Lyndon Johnson. Within each books Mr. Caro writes a mini biography or men who served as supporters, allies or opponents to the book’s subject.
The Power Broker/Robert Caro/Al Smith (supporter) and Nelson Rockefeller (opponent)
The Path to Power/LBJ/Sam Rayburn (supporter)
Means of Ascent/LBJ/Coke Stevenson (opponent)
Master of the Senate/LBJ/Richard B. Russell (supporter) and Hubert Humphrey (Ally)
These are not small bits of verbiage. I recall the 1983 review of The Path to Power, which praised Mr. Caro for his 15,000 word mini-bio of Sam Rayburn and suggested that for the time being this was actually the definitive work on Rayburn.
Mr. Caro’s concept is clear. In each book there are people who serve as the great force, either in concert with or in opposition to, the subject of the book and the work the subject was doing.
Mr. Caro’s books are long, and often wordy. But they are good-his four books have won at least two Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other awards.
They are worth the time, and the breadth of knowledge and information you gain from reading them is well worth your time!