In ‘Turn the Pages’, Robert Caro shows the power of everyday uniforms

Do you enjoy diving into the literary process? Old men named Bob are good-natured or quarrelsome? How warm and emotional storytelling? New York accent with vowels so rounded that they are perfectly spherical? Afterward Turn the pages: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb It will be a real party.

The documentary, released in 2022, is a rare look at the long, fruitful and sometimes controversial relationship between legendary political writer Robert Caro and his legendary editor Robert Gottlieb. (The director was the daughter of the latter, Lizzie Gottlieb.) The two men began working together in 1970 on Power broker, Caro’s great Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Robert Moses. (Although it had 700,000 words, Gottlieb cut 350,000 words from the original manuscript.) They continued to collaborate on Caro’s ongoing, multi-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. These days, Caro, 87, and Gottlieb, 91, are in between the fifth and final season.

It’s incredibly satisfying to watch two people at the top of their game who are above all motivated by the work itself. An anecdote says: When the young Caro was trying to find an editor for Power broker, he was courted by four potential candidates. The three of them tried to impress him with lunches at the Four Seasons and promises of fame. The fourth, Gottlieb, was too busy to leave the office, so he ordered sandwiches for himself and Caro to leave at his desk. The rest is history.

Turn each page also led to another profound discovery on my part: Is Robert Caro not only one of our great American literary icons but also… one of our great American style icons?

Sony Pictures

For the past 50 years, as seen in the film, Caro has more or less stuck to one look. Dark suit, red tie. Real heads will also recognize a brief cameo through the scarf he wears in Ric Burns’s. New York: A documentary film (1999).

Appearing at the event with longtime fan Conan O’Brien? Dark suit, red tie.

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