February 20, 2007

The Hauenstein Center brought two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert A. Caro to Grand Rapids for an event co-hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.

Pictured: Marty Allen, president emeritus of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, welcomed guests to Grand Valley State University for a reception with Caro.

  Hank Meijer (left), vice chair of the Ford Foundation and CEO of Meijer Incorporated, and Gleaves Whitney (middle), director of the Hauenstein Center, talked with Robert Caro (right) about the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan with Rusty Hills, communications director for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

 Caro is at work on the fourth and final volume of his award-winning biography on Lyndon Johnson.  He has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, and the National Book Award for works on Johnson and New York City “master-builder” Robert Moses.

 How Johnson became powerful on Capitol Hill was one of the key questions Caro wanted to answer when he started the biography of LBJ.  He had been told repeatedly that there would be no paper trail documenting Johnson’s rapid ascent in the backrooms of Washington.  Through persistent research, however, Caro discovered a handful of papers on which Johnson noted each legislator’s wants, needs, and prospects.

  Johnson’s genius was to link two groups of people together who had never been linked before — Democratic congressmen and Texas oilmen.  (The two most prominent oilmen who lavishly poured money into Johnson’s campaigns were George and Herman Brown, founders of Brown & Root.)  For the full story, see Caro’s Means of Ascent, pages 12-13.

 Caro signed books for members of the audience following his talk.

Pictured: Robert Noble, consul general of Canada, serving in Detroit, Michigan, with Robert Caro.

 Caro thanked Melissa Ware, Hauenstein Center research assistant, for helping organize the address.

 Left to right: Gleaves Whitney, Robert Caro, and Grand Valley student Sarah Gosline.