NEW YORKER: I am constantly being asked why it takes me so long to finish my books. Well, it’s the research that takes the time—the research and whatever it is in me that makes the research take so very much longer than I had planned. I’m currently working on the fifth and final book in “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” about the nineteen-sixties. I am also planning to write a full-scale memoir, describing in some detail my experiences in researching and writing my books about Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson—my experiences in learning about these two men and their methods of acquiring and using power—and also the efforts that were made to keep me from learning about these men and their methods.
Which leads to a final question: Why am I publishing these random recollections toward a memoir while I’m still working on the last volume of the Johnson biography, when I haven’t finished it, while I’m still—at the age of eighty-three—several years from finishing it? Why don’t I just include this material in the longer, full-length memoir I’m hoping to write?
The answer is, I’m afraid, quite obvious, and, if I forget it for a few days, I am frequently reminded of it, by journalists who, in writing about me and my hope of finishing, often express their doubts in a sarcastic phrase: “Do the math.” Well, I can do that math. I am well aware that I may never get to write the memoir, although I have so many thoughts about writing, so many anecdotes about research, that I would like to preserve for anyone interested enough to read them. I decided that, just in case, I’d put some of them down on paper now. MORE