Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York Paperback – Illustrated, July 12, 1975
An Amazon Book with Buzz: "The Four Winds" by Kristin Hannah
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"I think about Robert Caro and reading The Power Broker back when I was twenty-two years old and just being mesmerized, and I'm sure it helped to shape how I think about politics." —President Barack Obama
"The most absorbing, detailed, instructive, provocative book ever published about the making and raping of modern New York City and environs and the man who did it, about the hidden plumbing of New York City and State politics over the last half-century, about the force of personality and the nature of political power in a democracy. A monumental work, a political biography and political history of the first magnitude." —Eliot Fremont-Smith, New York
"One of the most exciting, un-put-downable books I have ever read. This is definitive biography, urban history, and investigative journalism. This is a study of the corruption which power exerts on those who wield it to set beside Tacitus and his emperors, Shakespeare and his kings." —Daniel Berger, Baltimore Evening Sun
"Simply one of the best nonfiction books in English of the past 40 years . . . There has probably never been a better dissection of political power . . . From the first page . . . you know that you are in the hands of a master . . . Riveting . . . Superb . . . Not just a stunning portrait of perhaps the most influential builder in world history . . . but an object lesson in the dangers of power. Every politician should read it." —Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times
"A study of municipal power that will change the way any reader of the book hereafter peruses his newspaper." —Philip Herrera, Time
"A triumph, brilliant and totally fascinating. A majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality." —Justin Kaplan
"In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort." —Richard C. Wade, The New York Times Book Review
"The feverish hype that dominates the merchandising of arts and letters in America has so debased the language that, when a truly exceptional achievement comes along, there are no words left to praise it. Important, awesome, compelling--these no longer summon the full flourish of trumpets this book deserves. It is extraordinary on many levels and certain to endure." —William Greider, The Washington Post Book World
"A modern Machiavelli's Prince." —The Guardian
"One of the great biographies of all time . . . [by] one of the great reporters of our time . . . and probably the greatest biographer. He is also an extraordinary writer. After reading page 136 of his book The Power Broker, I gasped and read it again, then again. This, I thought, is how it should be done . . . One of the greatest nonfiction works ever written . . . Every MP, wonk and would-be wonk in Westminster has read [Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson], because they think it is the greatest insight into power ever written. They're nearly right: it's the second greatest after The Power Broker." —Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times
"Apart from the book's being so good as biography, as city history, as sheer good reading, The Power Broker is an immense public service." —Jane Jacobs
"Required reading for all those who hope to make their way in urban politics; for the reformer, the planner, the politician and even the ward heeler." —Jules L. Wagman, Cleveland Press
"An extraordinary study of the workings of power, individually, institutionally, politically, and economically in our republic." —Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
"Caro has written one of the finest, best-researched and most analytically informative descriptions of our political and governmental processes to appear in a generation." —Nicholas Von Hoffman, The Washington Post
"This is irresistibly readable, an outright masterpiece and unparalleled insight into how power works and perhaps the greatest portrait ever of a world city." —David Sexton, The Evening Standard
"Caro's achievement is staggering. The most unlikely subjects--banking, ward politics, construction, traffic management, state financing, insurance companies, labor unions, bridge building--become alive and contemporary. It is cheap at the price and too short by half. A milestone in literary and publishing history." —Donald R. Morris, The Houston Post
"A masterpiece of American reporting. It's more than the story of a tragic figure or the exploration of the unknown politics of our time. It's an elegantly written and enthralling work of art." —Theodore H. White
"A stupendous achievement . . . Caro's style is gripping, indeed hypnotic, and he squeezes every ounce of drama from his remarkable story . . . Can a democracy combine visionary leadership with effective checks and balances to contain the misuse of power? No book illustrates this fundamental dilemma of democracy better than The Power Broker . . . Indeed, no student of government can regard his education as complete until he has read it." —Vernon Bogdanor, The Independent
"Irresistible reading. It is like one of the great Russian novels, overflowing with characters and incidents that all fit into a vast mosaic of plot and counterplot. Only this is no novel. This is a college education in power corruption." —George McCue, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From the Inside Flap
In revealing how Moses did it--how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force--Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars--the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were--even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him--until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.
- Publisher : Vintage; Illustrated edition (July 12, 1975)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1344 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0394720245
- ISBN-13 : 978-0394720241
- Item Weight : 3.24 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.13 x 1.77 x 9.13 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This was a tip from New York Magazine on "How to read 'The Power Broker'": Buy a cheap paperback version, tear it into thirds, read one third at a time. When you finish you will love this book so much that you will probably want to buy a hardcover version to have on your shelf.
Happily, the book is available in audiobook form, and that's how I'm reading it. Despite some of the flaws identified in the 3 Star ratings below (which contain helpful reviews - worth reading despite the ratings) in my opinion this is a five star book. A five star book, to me, is one that I hesitate to put down and can't wait to take up again.
The audio version takes up nearly 60 hours. The narrator does a terrific job. But most people's normal reading speed is much greater than his narration speed, and in my view, a book this size should be read, not heard. If only as a public service, the publisher should Kindle this book.
With all due respect to Mr. Caro, even after 1167 pages, there is zero mention of Jane Jacobs and only passing reference to the fight over the lower Manhattan expressway. Meanwhile, this topic is discussed at length in part 7 of the Ric Burns' PBS television series documentary on New York, which even features Caro frequently as a commentator.
I have also read all four volumes of Caro's LBJ biography. I enjoyed those more than this book. His writing style improved with the LBJ books. Power Broker gets a bit tedious, whereas the LBJ books were enthralling.
One may wonder based on the above description how Robert Moses once held 14 public government positions simultaneously, built nearly every public work in New York City, drove thousands of low-income residents on to the streets to build projects for wealthier residents, and even had an office on an island restricted to the general public. How did a man without a touch of kindness in his heart manage to convince the residents of New York City for decades that he was a benevolent builder of public works and parks who had their best interests in mind? How does one go from an idealistic young man with dreams of building beautiful parks to a mogul so powerful and terrifying that the Mayor and the Governor abide by his every request in fear of their own reputation?
The story of Robert Moses is one of those stories that nobody wants to hear but everyone needs to. Although Moses was seemingly a terrible man who resembled some of the most notorious figures in history, The Power Broker tells the truth behind the facade we call the press. Moses not only had unlimited funding to do what he wanted but also the newspapers at the will of his word. If he thought a journalist was taking it too far, he made sure they knew the consequences of publishing derogatory words about him. Moses knew how to crush people. He knew how to crush reputations ranging from the up and coming journalist all the way to the Governor. Not only did he know how, but he had the audacity to do so. Moses was not afraid to ruin someone's life for the sake of his own goals.
The Power Broker is not a story on how to live, how to do business, or how to build parks. It is a cautionary tale for future generations. It conveys many of the tactics Robert Moses used to "Get Things Done" in a city full of red tape and bureaucracy despite their brutal consequences to many innocent families. It also conveys the sad ending to Moses's long legacy. After losing power to a new era of leaders, Moses withered away in complete anxiety. He went from a man who got whatever he wanted at whatever cost to a man who begged his former victims for a chance to work again. At the end of his life, despite having accomplished more than any single leader in New York City's history, Robert Moses had no friends, no family, no money, and nothing to live for.
Despite the length of this 4 lb book, it is well worth the weeks it will take you to read. For anyone willing to hear the truth behind politics, there is no better place to start than this.
Top reviews from other countries
There is no redeeming feature in Caro's depiction of Moses who was a truly vile man through and through and who desired power solely for power's sake. His character for all his ability is comprehensively demolished by this great work. Unfortunately the infrastructure he built and which destroyed so much of value in New York even if it could be demolished would not restore what has been lost.
Perhaps most culpable in this tale is not the way that mayors caved into this demonic ego but the way the vaunted press lapped up everything Moses said and almost never challenged it. Where are America's investigative journalists? Largely comatose. But here I have my one quibble. There is no mention at all of the journalist Jane Jacobs, nor of her influential book,The Death and Life of American Cities, and nor of her considerable role in toppling Moses from his pedestal. This is an odd omission, and we know that she read Caro's hatchet job with relish, commenting that even though she knew Moses was an awful man this book was a shocking revelation. She had opposed his policies but not exposed his vile personality in all its vividness. It took Caro - one man delving deep into documents and sources, -to pull all the threads together to weave a shroud for a vampire. Moses was a monster, a racist, a bully a self-centred egotist, only interested in himself, indifferent to those he demeaned or whose lives he destroyed. It reminds me at least of another who has recently attained great power. Men such as Moses are the American nightmare.
And then, why not five stars?
I do believe the matter of the book (Robert Moses himself) let down the writer from half of the book onwards. The ascent to glory is superbly told and rivals any novel of business sucess or any movie on the matter. Yet the second half, the way down of Mr Moses, is so petty that the reader feels that the subject of the book is becoming thinner and thinner by the page. And in the end, in the last years of Mr Moses nothing happens - literally.
Also, half way through the book, a reader cannot help but noticing what a poor man Robert Moses was - after the brilliant years at University and the ascent to glory and power in New York City, Mr Moses is revealed in his maturity as a undercover racist, misogynist and adulterer man. And also someone with deep troubles to relate with other people - his running for public posts are shameful and, ultimately, how he treated his own brother is simple nasty.
Furthermore, the man who handled budgets of billion of dollars ended up begging for a menial job and almost living of charity.
The after taste is sad and hollow, and after roughly 700 pages the reader is expecting a conclusion at par with the first half. But we're left only thus: expecting. And the feeling is: is that all?
The story of Moses' fall from power is of great interest; and of press coverage of Moses; and of Moses' character - though I'm not sure I buy into the thesis that power corrupted Moses - the book after all starts with some pretty dodgy doings around the support of swimming and minor athletics at Yale. Moses' character was probably flawed from the off - though this may have become more and more clear with the passage of time and the accumulation of evidence.
So: I would recommend this work to others, but with just a note of caution.