The art of political power — with Robert Caro and William Hague

Tuesday 27 October 2015, 7pm | VIDEO ONLINE NOW

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Every industry has its guru. And when it comes to the dark arts of political statecraft, the American biographer Robert Caro is the mentor politicians turn to for guidance. His biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson has been described as ‘the greatest insight into power ever written’. Caro is revered by presidents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, his fans include Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Here in Britain, his life of LBJ is George Osborne’s favourite political work and has been read by every MP and wonk in Westminster.

In October 2015, Robert Caro made a rare appearance in London on the Intelligence Squared stage. He will be joined by William Hague, the former foreign secretary and leader of the Conservative party, and himself an acclaimed political biographer. Hague will be quizzing Caro on the nature of political power. How is it built and preserved? Where does true political power lie? With our elected representatives, or shady figures behind the scenes? One of the most powerful operators ever, who never entered public office, is Robert Moses, the man who built modern New York City. Moses is the subject of Caro’s Pulitzer-winning 1974 biography The Power Broker, now published in Britain for the first time. Described as ‘a majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality’, the book offers unparalleled insight into the use and misuse of power.

Praise for Robert Caro

‘I think about Robert Caro and reading ‘The Power Broker’ back when I was twenty-two years old and just being mesmerized, and I’m sure it helped to shape how I think about politics’ – Barack Obama

‘A stupendous achievement … Caro’s style is gripping, indeed hypnotic, and he squeezes every ounce of drama from his remarkable story … Can a democracy combine visionary leadership with effective checks and balances to contain the misuse of power? No book illustrates this fundamental dilemma of democracy better than The Power Broker – Vernon Bogdanor, The Independent

Robert Caro image © Martha Kaplan



Robert CaroRobert Caro

Often described as America’s greatest political biographer, Robert Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, for his studies of the lives of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson. In 2010 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.


William HagueWilliam Hague

Former leader of the Conservative Party (1997 – 2001) and Foreign Secretary (2010 – 2014). His biography of William Pitt the Younger won the History Book of the Year British Book Awards in 2005.




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