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Publisher's Summary

From two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time National Book Award winner Robert A. Caro: a short, penetrating reflection on the evolution and workings of political power - for good and for ill.

In On Power, an Audible exclusive, the legendary historian Robert A. Caro reflects on what drew him as a young journalist to study political power and what his half century of reporting on New York City urban planner Robert Moses and President Lyndon Johnson has taught him about the inner workings of government and democracy.

Adapted by the author from two recent speeches and filled with thoughtful lessons and personal moments, On Power goes behind the scenes in the author's decades-long quest to understand how power works, often in ways he could have never imagined.

Listening to On Power, narrated with emotion and humor by Caro in his unmistakable New York accent, is like having a private audience with the author often hailed as our greatest living historian. Longtime fans of Caro's books, as well as those seeking a more personal introduction to his life and work, will be treated to his trademark wit and revelatory insight.

But more than anything, On Power is a timely reminder for those who want to better understand how power and government work.

In Caro's words: "Why political power? Because it shapes all of our lives. It shapes your life in ways that you might never think about. Every time a young man goes to college on a federal education bill passed by Lyndon Johnson, that's political power. And so is a young man dying in Vietnam. Every time an elderly person is able to afford an MRI, that's Medicare. That's political power. It affects your life in all sorts of ways. My books are an attempt to explain this power.... Because the more America understands about political power, the better informed our votes will be, and then, hopefully, the better our democracy should be."

©2017 Robert A. Caro, Inc. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Richard
  • Huntsville, AL, USA
  • 05-11-17

Why how power is acquired and how it is used

This time Robert Caro does his usual excellent job of writing, but not to explain how other people think and work, but why he has chosen to do the work he has essentially given his life to. No one can summarize his work as well as Caro has. I certainly will not try. But I will say I have read his two books on LBJ and am now anxious to read his book about the power broker Robert Moses, as well his third LBJ book.

His work is better than fiction. To use a familiar phrase, you can't make this stuff up.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

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Short with little substance

I was excited for this book when I heard it was released. I haven't been able to commit to Caro's other works but was looking forward to a summary of his insights in his own words. Unfortunately, it is more a very very brief summary of Caro's history writing the books. It was interesting to hear about his experience, but it was not long enough to hear enough to get much out of his experience researching the books nor does it really spend much time on his subjects, Moses and Johnson.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Moving

The stories of the lives of the poor that Caro took the time to track down are poignant. This man exudes humanity and compassion. His telling of his life story moved me deeply.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Simply extraordinary. A short masterpiece.

This is one of the greatest short pieces of non fiction memoir of its kind. And the fact that is is in Robert Caro's own voice makes it even more moving. It is part Robert Caro's first person memoir (and his long suffering wife Ina too) as well as the story of the inimitable dogged storytelling and reporting that has won him multiple Pulitzer Prizes. It is also a testament to his humanity and his reasons as to why he has spent a lifetime focused on these two biographical subjects because it is not just about power for its own sake but also because it is about power's effect on the powerless.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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A few anecdotes but little in the way of revelation.

The author has a pleasant speaking voice but the book mostly feels like an advertisement for his Lyndon Johnson biography.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Enlightening summary of lessons learned by a true investigative journalist

I was introduced to "On Power" by Sam Hinkie who tweeted about it and later sent a link which allowed me to download it for free. It was enriching to hear Robert describe what he learned while researching the root origins of powerful individuals in both NYC while writing his biography on Robert Moses and the same with LBJ. Robert's honest encounters and willingness to commit to his brand of honest journalism seemingly allowed him to develop a deep understanding of both subjects and what factors played a role in their success. I appreciate Sam for introducing me to Robert's work and thank Robert for his efforts and describing his experiences in such a vivid and easy to appreciate manner.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 12-14-17

About Caro fascination with political power

On Power is a 102 minute discussion by biographer Robert Caro of his fascination with the topic of political power. Robert Caro spent most of his career writing the use of raw political power by NYC urban planner Robert Moses and about the political life of Lyndon B. Johnson with emphasis on his early years and his time in the US Senate. This short can be viewed either Caro's explanation of his fascination with political power or as an advertisement for his very substantial books. Frankly, I found the little book to be of insubstantial interest, but most reviewers disagree.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

middling

seems like a fairly short podcast rather than an actual book with new details. wait for a sale

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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This is a 100 minute ad for his other books

Author talks about how hard he's worked and previews his other books about Robert Moses and LBJ.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Could be called 'On Robert Caro'

Huge fan of Robert Caro's work - I was hoping this would be a quick take on the biggest lessons on power that he teased out in his masterpieces that I could share with people who would find the other books too long. It was mostly about Robert Caro's life and work processes, without much on his key observations on power. OK for fans like me, but probably not wide interest and definitely overpriced for a brief autobio.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Roland
  • 07-18-17

Copernicus

Aside from being a brilliant sample from this great story. As I'm sure all the other reviews have mentioned.
What a voice!