Award-winning historian and author Robert A. Caro is at SMU Tuesday, Oct. 29 for the 2013-14 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. He will give The Anita and Truman Arnold Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.
Caro is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. His piece on Moses, The Power Broker, was his first book and received praise from many organizations and publications – notably TIME Magazine, which called it “one of the hundred top nonfiction books of all time.” His biography of Lyndon Johnson is split into four volumes, the most recent installment of which is The Passage of Power.
In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News, Caro explained that there are numerous books focusing on the assassination of Kennedy but none look at Johnson’s perspective. The United States lost a president on that day but it also created one; Caro focuses on this angle in his books.
“In The Passage of Power, I wanted to look at that day from Johnson’s point of view,” Caro says. “There was something magnificent in the way he took over. There are about 11 weeks between when a president is elected and when he takes office. Johnson had only two hours and six minutes.”
In 2010, Caro received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. “Caro has a unique place among American political biographers,” The Boston Globe said. “He has become, in many ways, the standard by which his fellows are measured.” A great deal of research goes into his books, including a move from New York to D.C. to live where Johnson grew up; this in-depth work has landed him more than 40 awards and honors throughout his lifetime.
Caro was born and raised in New York City and attended Princeton for his undergraduate studies in English. He went on to become a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and was once an investigative reporter for Newsday.
Tuesday’s lecture takes place less than a month before the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, and Caro will speak on the assassination and the events following as Johnson took over the presidency. The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available; meet in the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Caro will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. The Forum is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place.