Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #33

As if I don't have enough future reading on my plate, I do plan to someday read Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson. And so I picked up these used copies at The York Emporium a while back. It just seems like, with a magisterial series like this, one should have it in hardcover.

Caro published the first four volumes between 1982 and 2012, perhaps not realizing when he started that its research and writing would consume so many decades of his life. Now 84½, he's been working on the fifth volume for nearly a decade. In January of this year, he told The New York Times that he has 604 typed manuscript pages so far; he shuns computers and still uses his Smith-Corona Electra 210.

“It’s going to be a very long book,” Caro told The Times.

The fifth volume is planned as a mostly chronological narrative of LBJ's presidency. After 600+ pages, Caro still had not arrived at the Vietnam War within the narrative. So, indeed, it's going to be a long book

And what if Caro doesn't have the opportunity to finish the fifth volume? C-SPAN's Brian Lamb asked Caro that very question in March 2019.

Lamb: "Do you have a plan in the event that this doesn't go well for you from a health standpoint that it will eventually be published no matter whether you finished it or not? It sounds like a cruel question, but there it is."

Caro: "Well, the one thing I know is I'm never going to let my books, this book, be finished by anyone else. Whatever I've written is going to be published. If I don't finish the book that's it. I have in my will, my literary executives know, no one is going to finish my book."

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