At age 83, iconic biographer Robert A. Caro takes time away from his work on the fifth volume of his acclaimed Lyndon B. Johnson biography to offer wisdom about researching and writing in "Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing."

In sparkling prose, Caro — who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, among countless other honors — recounts his path from growing up sheltered in New York City to studying at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia to unexpectedly becoming a newspaper reporter and deciding to devote his life to writing books. Thinking about his first book topic, he landed on developer Robert Moses, “the most powerful figure in New York City and New York State for more than forty years — more powerful than any mayor or any governor, or any mayor and governor combined.” After Caro received a book contract with a small advance from a publisher, he, his wife (and research assistant), Ina, and their son struggled to make ends meet as the project consumed about a decade, much longer than the author had anticipated. The book was more than 1,300 pages, and its surprising success gave Caro some financial stability. The author explains that he focused on Johnson next as an exemplar of how to wield political power on a national scale. Throughout the book, the author shares fascinating insights into his research process in archives; his information-gathering in the field, such as the Texas Hill Country; his interviewing techniques; his practice of writing the first draft longhand with pens and pencils; and his ability to think deeply about his material. Caro also offers numerous memorable anecdotes — e.g., how he verified rumors that Johnson became a senator in 1948 via illegal ballot counting in one rural county.

Caro’s skill as a biographer, master of compelling prose, appealing self-deprecation and overall generous spirit shine through on every page.

(Caro will speak and sign copies of his book at 5 p.m. Sunday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Information:

From millennial to millennial

Peter Noble Darrow's memoir/self-improvement debut "Wise Millennial: A Field Guide to Thriving in Modern Life" offers millennials advice for living a full life.

Early on in this coming-of-age story, millennial Darrow says he faced life-changing events in his mid-20s. His parents divorced, remarried, and dealt with dual cancer diagnoses; his father died; he endured a breakup with a special girlfriend; and he closed his restaurant business after just one year. While devastating, this period also helped shape the author’s life philosophy, delivered with aplomb in a book that catalogs his developing maturity and provides contemporaries with wise tips for thriving. Insightful and rich with details, the guide is cleverly divided into seven sections, each representing an overarching attribute, such as “Wise Millennial,” “Healthy Millennial” and “Adventurous Millennial.” Every section includes several chapters through which Darrow weaves his personal story in combination with considering what he learned as he survived each experience. In “Social Millennial,” for example, the author recounts how he loved and lost a girl “TO WHOM I WAS READY TO PROPOSE.” After she breaks up with him, a pensive Darrow reflects, “Don’t take anyone, or anything, for granted. Because they can be gone in an instant.” Later, with a great deal of charm and wit, the author advises men “how to truly win over women,” suggesting, “It boils down to this: treat girls with respect.” The book is wide-ranging, touching on many areas, including health, wealth, relationships, college and business, all written from millennial to millennial. Darrow’s prose is engaging and at times exhilarating. He is an adept storyteller and demonstrates the ability to learn from his challenges, failures, and successes. In addition to the manual’s natural, conversational style, the design is striking: Each section is dramatically set off with its own vivid hue, and numerous uncredited color photographs supplement the text. The author’s astute observations about his own generation are refreshing if not unique: He claims millennials “tend to use technology as a crutch to express their true feelings,” but “will fight to the digital death for expressive freedom.”

"Wise Millennial" is lively, appealing and instructive; perfectly targeted to the millennial demographic.