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The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York Paperback – Illustrated, July 12, 1975

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,134 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Surely the greatest book ever written about a city." —David Halberstam

"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

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.

Product details

  • 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
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,134 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,134 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on May 27, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on March 14, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on March 28, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

Samuel Romilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Power tends to corrupt
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 28, 2017
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10 people found this helpful
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Robert ‘Bob’ Macespera
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb biography of a poor man
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 17, 2019
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Alex Greig
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing saga
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2017
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5 people found this helpful
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William Jordan
4.0 out of 5 stars Very impressive biography - but perhaps of less interest if you are not interested in NY
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 10, 2019
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Molybdenum
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, multi-layered portrait of a brilliant monster.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 9, 2016
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4 people found this helpful
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