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The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York Paperback – July 12, 1975
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"Surely the greatest book ever written about a city." --David Halberstam
"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
"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
"Fascinating, every oversize page of it." --Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
"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
"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
"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
"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
One of the most acclaimed books of our time, winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city's politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today.
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.
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Top customer reviews
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.
His negative influence on the City is at least as important as his positive influence and, having lived through his major negative affect, the spreading of slums through the City, I found it harder and harder to read and never did finish the book.
Caro is a fantastic Biographer and this book is every bit as good as his later multi-volumne biography of Lindon Johnson.
Caro succeeds so well because of his eye for detail. Robert Moses' accomplishments are discussed in the book's prologue, and we spend the next 1,200 pages or so learning all about them in detail. We get to know Moses as a headstrong young man, coming into his intelligence more and more and using it to make everyone in his path do his bidding. He gets menial employment after college, forsaking money due to his affluent background, but sticks to his principles in a time of great change in New York City. Eventually those go out the door as Moses starts amassing his power, through overpowering Albany with his rapaciousness and brilliant alliances, and the legend grows from there until he is one of the most powerful men in the United States. We learn about major players like Alfred E. Smith, LaGuardia, and FDR in a behind-the-curtain way that makes you second guess their public images. We learn about Moses' talents in bill writing, and how he used it to get pretty much whatever he wanted out of the state and federal governments. We learn of how he was able to build the West Side Highway, Jones Beach, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway, but his downfall began over a small patch of land in Central Park. We learn about Moses' disdain for the public, and his desire to create bridges and parks to satisfy his own ego rather than anything for the public good.
Any review cannot properly encapsulate Moses' achievements, their impact and how he went about making them, the tactics he employed, the people he ruined, the money he squandered, the lies he told, the decades of toil, the Herculean strength and brutishness he repressed everyone with, and in short the countless choices he and he alone made that forever changed New York City and its surrounding areas, but it is all here for you to experience. This is all written in a prose that is professional yet compulsively readable- you're going to miss this book once you've finished it. It is a testament to the wayward politics of the early twentieth century, the genius and madness of Robert Moses, as well as the incomparable talents of Mr Caro that raise this biography of reportage to art. Any knowledge whatsoever of Robert Moses isn't necessary to enjoy this book. Read it if you like biography. Read it if you like New York. Read it if you've ever heard of New York. This is a stunning achievement.
Most recent customer reviews
Caro deftly shows how even in a (liberal/republic) democracy the will of ONE person can be forced onto the many.
Skip the Ph.Read more
"The city governments of the United States are the worst Christendom - The...Read more