From an Interview with Robert Caro Published by Popular Mechanics:
Four decades ago, Robert A. Caro began writing a multipart biography he calls The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Over 3,000 pages and a Pulitzer later, he’s still working on the fifth and (allegedly) final volume.
“In writing about me and my hopes of finishing, [journalists] often express their doubts of that happening in a sarcastic phrase: ‘Do the math,’ ” Caro, 83, writes in the introduction to Working, a new book about his research.
Yet concern over longevity might be better suited to his tools. Caro writes first drafts longhand, then types them up, complete with carbon copies, on a Smith-Corona Electra 210 typewriter.
Popular Mechanics: What do you bring with you when you go to the archives?
Robert Caro: It depends on the archive. I have a computer on my desk [a Lenovo Thinkpad], although I still write and do most of my stuff on this typewriter. The reason I have a computer is that some years ago, the Johnson library said that my typewriter was so noisy, it was disturbing the other researchers. So I bought a computer and I took all my Vietnam notes on it, but I still write on the typewriter and in longhand.
It makes me think more. Today everybody believes fast is good. Sometimes slow is good.
PM: Do you ever use Google?
RC: Sure. But you know, I don’t use Google a lot. What I use a lot is control-find.
Let’s say—during the Vietnam War, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a lot of executive sessions. They’re endless. They’re volume after volume of small type. It really would be sort of an impenetrable mass, but with control-find, of course, if I want to know if there were additional references to the Gulf of Tonkin after the truth started to come out, I just hit control-find. That is the great help for researchers.