Fast Chat: Robert Caro

Caro won a National Book Award for the 1,165-page "Master of the Senate," the third volume of his projected four-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. He talked to Jerry Adler.

Good year?
It was a wonderful year, not just because this volume did so well, but because the first two volumes have many new readers as well. I'm trying in all of them to say something about the nature of political power, and I'm thrilled to think I'm saying it to more than one generation.

Do you think people only pretend to read your books?
Some people must be reading them. I didn't catch a typo and I've gotten almost 1,000 e-mails pointing it out.

You still have LBJ's years as vice president and president to cover.
If you're asking will I live long enough to finish, I certainly hope so. A lot of the people I need to talk to are old. George Christian, Johnson's last press secretary, died just last month, and in the week before he died we had three remarkably frank interviews. He poured out a wonderful picture of Johnson on the day he decided not to run for re-election. His last words to me were "I'm just about played out here, Bob, you'll have to get the rest of it after I'm gone." The other thing I did was visit the Johnson library to see how many boxes of papers on the presidency I had to get through.

How many were there?
[Laughs] Too many.

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