I’ve avoided reading the political writer, but he’s right about one thing—biography teaches us that individuals matterby Philip Collins / December 10, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
They have been sitting there, tucked in neatly between Thomas Carlyle’s On Heroes And Hero Worship and EH Carr’s What Is History?, admonishing me for years now. The first three of five planned volumes of Robert Caro’s epic biography of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B Johnson. Those 2,280 pages demanding my attention, mocking me for never having opened them, trying to excite a hunger in me to be more serious. There is another volume, not yet purchased and another, not yet written but expected. At my usual rate, the three volumes I have will consume three months, even if I read absolutely nothing else—no newspapers, magazines, novels, old Wisden almanacs, nothing but Johnson. If the conversation doesn’t get round to the electrification of rural Texas, I will have nothing to say.
It took Caro’s recent visit to London, in which he was given the royal treatment by the British political class, including slots on Newsnight and the Today programme and an audience with the press gallery of the House of Commons, to force me to get them down from the shelves. Howeve…