146 of 151 people found the following review helpful
There and back again (but not on the Long Island Expressway),
This review is from: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Paperback)
I first picked up The Power Broker when it was published 25 years ago. Since then I've re-read it three or four times over the years. It is a true monument to Caro that this book has remained in print in both hc and pb over these years.
This massive work is at the same time a biography of Robert Moses and the metropolitan New York City area. Moses, originally a reformer and a true public servant, somehow became tainted by the power entrusted to him. It was his way or no way -- and once he became firmly entrenched there was no "no way." A typical Moses tactic: design a great public work (bridge, for example) and underestimate the budget. A bargain sure to be approved and funded by the politicians! Then run out of money halfway through construction. The rest of the money will surely be forthcoming because no politician wants to be associated with a half-finished and very visibile "failure" -- it's much better to take credit for an "against the odds" success.
I grew up in NYC at the tail end of Moses' influence and I remember the 1964 Worlds Fair in NYC vividly, especially a "guidebook" that lionized Moses' construction prowess. In school, Moses' contribution was also taught (always positively) when we had units covering NYC history. If nothing else, Moses understood the power of good publicity, and used tactics later adopted by the current mayor (King Rudy) to control the press and public opinion. This book brings Moses back to human scale and deconstructs (no pun intended) his impact on the city.
The book is long, detailed, and compelling. Great beach reading -- especially at Jones Beach! Now that it is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a new retrospective afterword from the author would be appreciated (perhaps a reprint of the article he wrote for the New Yorker a few years ago on how he wrote the book).
An interesting counterpoint to this biography of Moses is The Great Bridge by David McCollough. This story of a great public works project is also a biography of the Roeblings, the family of engineers who designed and built it. They shared Moses' singlemindedness, but the methods and results had far less negative results.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 12, 2010 11:17:46 AM PDT
W. Heinser says:
I think that jones beach in 2000 was much older than 25 years old
In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2012 9:24:52 PM PDT
I think he means the book was 25 years old in 2000, not Jones Beach.
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