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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: On Power

On Power is Robert A Caro's hour and a half lecture about his two Pulitzer prize winning books about Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. He reflects on what political power means, and says that his books weren't really about these two men, but about political power, its use and abuse, and the lives of the people these men affected when they exercised that power.

The lecturer's got a strong New York accent, which you get used to only about halfway through it. It's peppered with stories about how he realized the impact Robert Moses had, as well as the travails of writing the book: it took him multiple years and he ran through his advance rapidly.

His discussion about how he moved into the hill country to live with and interview the people who voted Lyndon Johnson into power was nothing short of stunning. To enable the trust of such people he had to live there, and his statement that these people were all dead now, and there's no one alive who remembers the time before rural electrification is moving and a realization of how rare it is to find someone with political power who could actually do something good.

The lecture makes me want to go find his books and read it (which I suppose is the main goal --- audible did give away the lecture for free), but I'm intimidated by the size and length of those books and will probably never get around to it. In the mean time, this lecture will have to do.

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