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Robert Caro documentary coming

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I posted this on Facebook about the documentary TURN EVERY

PAGE, which I have not yet seen: "There's an acclaimed/nepotistic new documentary about the relationship between Robert Caro and his editor, Robert Gottlieb, TURN EVERY PAGE, by Gottlieb's daughter Lizzie. Caro's THE POWER BROKER is one of the two best nonfiction books I have ever read, along with Boswell's Life of Johnson. The volumes so far of Caro's epic Lyndon Johnson biography were superb until Caro bought into the lies of the Warren Commission in the fourth volume, which I suppose is the price of the big bucks, the awards, the support by Knopf. If you want an antidote to the Gottlieb-worship, read my detailed, highly documented expose of that editor's meretricious behavior and attempted sabotage of my Frank Capra biography, in cahoots with Capra's archivist Jeanine Basinger of Wesleyan University, in my memoir FRANKLY: UNMASKING FRANK CAPRA (2019). I went with Gottlieb and Knopf over a competing offer from Simon & Schuster because of Gottlieb's inflated image and because of my respect for the Caro books published by 1984. But Gottlieb and Basinger and members of the Capra family tried to stop or gut my book, causing a four-year legal battle, but I managed to take it away to a good publisher, Simon & Schuster, and an honest editor, Bob Bender. . . .

"Robert Caro is still complaining that Gottlieb cut what he considers the best piece he ever wrote, his account of Jane Jacobs's battle with Robert Moses to save Washington Square Park, out of THE POWER BROKER. The book is tremendously long, but a page-turner, and part of an editor's job is helping the author cut judiciously, but not cut the marrow from the book, as Gottlieb tried to do in his attempt to neuter my book on Capra along with Jeanine Basinger, who was trying to sanitize Capra's image. I wonder why Caro doesn't publish that chapter somewhere. I think the best piece of his writing I have read (and I've read each of his biographies three times) is his magnificent chapter "One Mile" in THE POWER BROKER. . . .

"Gottlieb told me he thought Frank Capra was the most interesting man in the world, and, indeed, Capra was such a fascinatingly complex character that it sustained me over the hellish, Kafkaesque seven and a half years of work on that book. He reminded me of a protagonist in a Dostoevsky novel. But I think it takes courage to be a good book editor and to stand up for your authors and for their principles and your own. First you have to have principles before you can stand up for them. There are a lot of pressures from know-nothings in this world, and anyone writing or publishing today has to stand up to them. See this quote I use as an epigraph in FRANKLY: 'THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO BURN A BOOK. AND THE WORLD IS FULL OF PEOPLE RUNNING ABOUT WITH LIT MATCHES. -- RAY BRADBURY.' . . .

"Even then [in his fourth volume, THE PASSAGE OF POWER], with all the gross myths and factual errors that an editor should have caught, Caro provides fresh and damning details about the pressures building on LBJ that weekend from the Donald Reynolds hearing and the LIFE magazine task force's investigation of LBJ's finances. LIFE might have run its expose in the following Friday's issue. LBJ was facing possibly being dropped from the ticket or going to jail. One of the many myths in that fourth volume is the false account of Secret Service Agent Rufus Youngblood jumping over the seat to shield Johnson with his body when the shots were fired. I interviewed Senator Ralph Yarborough, who was riding in the cramped back seat with LBJ and Lady Bird; the senator scoffed at that story and said it didn't happen. Penn Jones used to say, "LBJ was the only one who ducked," and Yarborough told me Youngblood and Johnson were huddled together in the gap between the two front seats listening to the walkie-talkie Youngblood had hanging from his shoulder. . . .

"[And to a Facebook Friend who wondered why Caro couldn't publish an ebook edition of THE POWER BROKER that would restore the chapter about Jane Jacobs:] I agree with you, Jeffrey. Good point about ebooks. Caro wouldn't have to try to persuade Gottlieb to let the book expand to two volumes, which he proposed before it was originally published. Gottlieb rejected that idea, saying he could sell one book on Robert Moses but not two. But Caro later proved he could sell four and now five books on LBJ, though LBJ was a president, and Moses was not as well-known at the time outside New York. Gottlieb bragged in a letter to me that he had cut about 400,000 words out of THE POWER BROKER. It still runs 1336 pages. The manuscript ran more than a million words. Both men have expressed regret about having to cut it, but the chapter on Jacobs seems crucial to the story of Moses and New York City."

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Jane Jacobs contra Robert Moses fortunately made it into Ric Burns' film series, New York: A Documentary Film (1999-2001), though Caro's deleted chapter was perhaps even more damning to Moses, prompting the deletion of this important biographical consideration.  (Caro is interviewed in this segment of Burns' film.)  No editor would make this decision today, and Gottleib's cut is a hangover of the mindset that licensed Moses to modernize and sanitize Manhattan.

An interview subject in the American Experience film, The World that Moses Built (1988) describes Moses as "the executor of a great many people's plans," a phrase that ought to resonate among JFKA facilitators such as Allen Dulles.  In Moses' case, some of these plans might have been destroying New York's "slum" neighborhoods before a generation of Blacks and Puerto Ricans could fill the gap left by growing "white flight" to the suburbs.  This generation would be housed in Moses-approved projects north of the new Lincoln Center and Cross-Bronx Expressway.

Personally, I'd rather see a documentary on how Robert Gottleib beat into acceptable shape Joseph Heller's bilious and prolix manuscript of Catch-22, a greater achievement when one looks at the still-meandering published version, a book Norman Mailer said you could cut 100 pages from without Heller knowing they were gone.

Edited by David Andrews
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Wow!  Heady stuff.

Much to read and much to study to ask worthy questions.

Too much for me I'm afraid.

Still, with apologies, I can't help asking just one or two possibly naive ones because I feel the subject matter is so important in my mind.

Are you willing to "unequivocally" state that Robert Caro "did or did not" leave enough criminally corrupt actions on the part of LBJ out of his huge LBJ bio series to a degree that warrants a debate about the integrity of Caro's LBJ work as the best bio "end-all" in giving us the "full truth" about LBJ above all others?

Many here and elsewhere claim Caro purposely avoided going into areas of reported LBJ activities that would open up "any" possibility of foreknowledge and/or involvement on LBJ's part regards the JFKA.

How does Caro cover the Mac Wallace "murder with malice" jury conviction trial and LBJ's getting Wallace off completely free of any time served for that conviction? That LBJ action alone is one of the most corrupt doings by a high level U.S. political figure I have ever read about. 

It's implications are so ominously telling it just adds to the alternate LBJ bio story proposition that LBJ was way more corrupt than Caro states.

Did LBJ ever okay or even order the murders of individuals that were of great threat to him personally and/or politically?

Henry Marshall for one.

With LBJ's greatest debt owing protege Mac Wallace ( already a convicted murderer ) being a seriously considered suspect in that murder.

Some of these most famous all powerful editors like Gottleib sound like old Hollywood movie studio heads who were so powerful they could make or break anyone in their industry beneath them.

Sorry, but I always have a natural aversion to over-idolizing people with that kind of power.

Again, apologies for my naive question distraction post here from the fascinating story of Moses, etc.






Edited by Joe Bauer
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The Passage of Power is a poor book.

I did  a review for it for Bob Parry.

It was so poor that I am not looking forward to the next one.

Throughout that book, instead of actually dealing with Kennedy, he refers to him as the rich man's son.  I think this is Caro's way of disposing of the problem as to all the changes LBJ would make in JFK's foreign policy. You just make Kennedy into a cliche.

Caro did very little with JFK's murder, the Warren Commission, and then gives LBJ credit for keeping Kennedy's advisors on board. I cannot wait to see what he does when one by one they all leave LBJ over Vietnam.


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7 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Caro did very little with JFK's murder, the Warren Commission, and then gives LBJ credit for keeping Kennedy's advisors on board. 

JFK's murder made LBJ our president.

To leave that massively important part of LBJ's climb to the top out of the story as much as Caro does seems illogically suspicious.

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I've now seen the acclaimed new Lizzie Gottlieb documentary TURN EVERY PAGE -- THE ADVENTURES OF ROBERT CARO AND ROBERT GOTTLIEB, and my review is two words long: "Yes, but . . ." Here's the "but": 


Edited by Joseph McBride
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