Robert Caro in an article last week's New Yorker disclosed that his Lyndon Johnson biography won't be finished for several more years.
At 83, Caro is still doing research on the final volume of his lauded narrative of Johnson's rise from rural Texas obscurity to supreme political power. The fifth installment of the exhaustive work will cover the downfall of Johnson's presidency over the Vietnam War.
Instead of the finale of the Johnson book, Caro this spring will publish"random recollections" on his research methods for Johnson's life, and his earlier ground-breaking biography of New York public works commissioner Robert Moses. The New Yorker published a segment of the "recollections."
Along with finishing the Johnson opus, Caro plans to write his full-scale memoirs. Conceding that he might not have time to do the Johnson book and the memoirs, Caro said he decided to publish his thoughts on his work.
Caro seems confident that he will finish the Johnson book. A dogged researcher, Caro even found it necessary to move to Vietnam for a time to investigate the aftermath of the war.
Concerned Caro fans might remember William Manchester's inability to finish his excellent biography of Winston Churchill. Manchester's two Churchill volumes ended in 1940, and he couldn't complete the work after suffering two strokes. Writer Paul Reid used Manchester's research to write a concluding book on Churchill, with less critical acclaim than Manchester received.
Following veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh's memoirs last year, Caro's examination of his research methods will be valuable to journalists, historians and Johnson scholars. Hersh also subscribes to Caro's mantra, imparted to him by a crusty newspaper editor when he was a young reporter, to turn every page.