Robert Caro’s next project is for ears only.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning historian is planning an audio-only release, “On Power,” drawing upon his years as an investigative journalist and his research into the lives of President Lyndon Johnson and municipal builder Robert Moses. “On Power” will be narrated by Caro and released exclusively through the audiobook producer and distributor Audible Inc., which told The Associated Press on Monday that it had set a May 9 release date.
“My books are an attempt to examine and explain political power: how it is created, how it works, how it can be used — for good and for ill,” Caro said in a statement provided to the AP. “I thought it was important to try to do that because that power shapes all our lives — in ways large and small. And I felt that the more America understands about political power, the better informed our voters would be, and then, hopefully, the better our democracy would be.”
Caro, 81, was a reporter at Newsday during the 1960s, where be began to report on Moses. He is known for his biography of Moses, “The Power Broker,” and for his epic series on Johnson, which he began more than 40 years ago. “On Power” should prove a brief diversion from the fifth and presumed final volume about LBJ. The previous four Johnson books have brought Caro a Pulitzer, a National Book Award and numerous other honors.
The audio narrative was initiated by Audible after senior director Tyler Cabot saw Caro speak last September at Harvard University. Caro, in a telephone interview Monday, said he liked the idea because he puts in extensive time on his speeches and has regretted that they didn’t exist in a more permanent form. “On Power” is an adaptation of two of his public talks into a single, new narrative and will likely run under two hours, compared with more than 60 hours for the audio version of “The Power Broker.”
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Caro said of the audio work. “And some of the stories I tell I’ve never told in public before.”