Power doesn’t always corrupt ..

Power doesn’t ­always corrupt, and you can see it in the case of, for example, Al Smith or Sam Rayburn. There, power cleanses. But what power always does is reveal, because when you’re climbing, you have to conceal from people what it is you’re really willing to do, what it is you want to do. But once you get enough power, once you’re there, where you wanted to be all along, then you can see what the protagonist wanted to do all along, because now he’s doing it.

Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5

Power doesn’t ­always corrupt ..  But what power always does is reveal, because when you’re climbing, you have to conceal from people what it is you’re really willing to do, what it is you want to do. But once you get enough power, once you’re there, where you wanted to be all along, then you can see what the protagonist wanted to do all along, because now he’s doing it.

What Robert Caro taught me about the individual

The claim of the biographer is that history is better illustrated and understood through the prism of the single important life. Given Carr’s point that only some facts are historical, this inevitably means that most biographical writing is the account of the lives of great men and women. In that debate, the Caro and the Carlyle kept ganging up on the Carr with the proposition that the individual life changes the world.