99% Invisible: Power Broker #01: Robert Caro
January 19, 2024 8:15 AM - Subscribe

My goodness, that's certainly a special guest: Robert Caro! Let's discuss the book and the podcast, through the end of chapter five.
posted by The corpse in the library (8 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't listened to the episode yet. A few thoughts on the book so far: the writing is so smooth, no impediments at all to just sitting and reading and reading.

On p. 83 (if it's the same in all editions?) there's a bit that has stuck with me, about Mayor John Purroy Mitchel: "His boasts were not of what was being done to meet the city's needs but of what was being done to save the city's money." I've seen that personally in local politics, where politicians boast about low taxes without acknowledging the lower services that come with those low taxes.

Another bit that stuck me personally is the description of the job performance review system he came up with. I'm procrastinating right now on doing my annual job review, where I have to assign percentage values to various abstract concepts. Maybe Tammany was onto something by ignoring it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 AM on January 19

Very pleased with the episode. The interview with Caro was a delight. He sounds like a man 20 years younger, and you could hear how much he appreciated that people were still close-reading the work after all these years.
posted by nev at 10:46 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

The next episode will cover part III, "The Rise to Power," which is chapters six through ten. You've got a month! You can do this!
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:52 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]

nev: yes, it was touching to hear Caro's reaction to this happening. So much of the book is also about Caro, for me, that I loved the layers of this episode.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:54 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]

They seem to be having so much fun with this - makes it really engaging.
posted by DowBits at 4:36 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]

They was the first time I’ve ever heard Caro speak and his accent is such a joy.

Gotta say though, I know there’s a lot of material to cover, but I feel like they’re keeping things far too surface level so far.
posted by dry white toast at 12:09 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

After listening to 30 minutes, I skipped to the Caro interview, and it was great to hear about his work on the book. I was less impressed by the episode itself though - maybe they are having fun with this, but the cackling and weird comments make me feel I'm listening to two drunk guys philosophizing at a frat party, which I found very off-putting (this might just be the style of this podcast, which just doesn't jive with me). Additionally, as dry white toast hinted at - they are just doing a blow-by-blow of the book, so nothing new is learned over just spending the time reading.

I'm making my way through the book at 5 pages/day, so I hope to be done by mid-September, but I'll most likely skip the podcasts.
posted by Dotty at 12:02 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I enjoyed the episode but also hope future episodes bring me a deeper understanding of the book.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:18 PM on January 23

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