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on May 27, 2016
This is one of those books that sticks with you. I sing its praises all the time. I just want to offer a practical suggestion for reading it because there is no kindle version (WHY???) and it is a backbreaking brick to lug around.

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.
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on May 31, 2016
I bought this book a few years ago, I think on Amazon. It's around 1,200 pages and took forever to read at the rate of an hour a night. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. This is incredibly detailed, informative and is compelling reading. Mr. Caro did a magnificent job. I have a home library and I've read a lot of biographies. This is at the apex. It stands alone, above all others. I was incredibly impressed by the time I got to the end. And to this day, I still am.
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on December 19, 2017
I was curious about Robert Moses because a biography of Jane Jacobs was recently published. She was instrumental in stopping the Lower Manhattan Freeway that Robert Moses wanted. This was a monumental accomplishment as Moses controlled all municipal building in NYC for years and had a stranglehold on power even over numerous mayors. It took Governor Nelson Rockefeller to unseat him.

What I found fascinating was Moses’ expert manipulation of the system of government in NY which gave him a stranglehold on power for years. His accomplishments cannot be denied. It is clear no one else had the capacity to build as many freeways, bridges and public works as he did in 44 years.

Ok, now to the book. Clearly Caro deserved a Pulitzer for this. The research and detail is masterful. Others may disagree but I found the book riveting and felt it only bogged down once in over 1000 pages. I would have liked more information about Moses’s family but it may have been trimmed since the book was whittled down considerably before publishing.

I now understand how our politicians can become so wealthy while in office. It’s all about the deals. A great look into power within the halls of government.
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on March 14, 2017
Several years ago, in a Barnes & Noble, I randomly picked up the first volume of Caro's books on Lyndon Johnson. It turned out to be one of those book that you have to buy because you can't stop reading it. I worked ("worked" is not really the right word - it's no work to read these books) through the first three books, then, while waiting for the fourth, looked around for other books by Caro, which is how I found The Power Broker. But the printed volume is a brick - one of those concrete ones they use to build walls with. And astonishingly, (publisher please note) THERE IS NO KINDLE VERSION (publisher please note). So for purposes of reading, the book is an anchor to your reading chair - you can't haul it around without a knapsack, so you can't read it mobilely.

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.
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on July 22, 2017
As someone has lived in New York City for many, in a neighborhood Moses wanted to tear down to build a freeway, The Power Broker is a fascinating insight into the city in its current form. The reader will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for New York City and State because Moses was instrumental in much of the urban and park planning.

If that was not enough, Robert Caro is a gifted and skilled writer and biographer. Moses is an interesting and important figure in New York history, but Caro's writing elevates him to an almost Machiavellian character. The sentences, pages, and chapters are beautifully written and are immensely gripping. This is both an academic study of a man

Caro has admitted that he wishes he made this book longer. His editors at the time thought no body would read such a long book so they cut several chapters, including Moses's battles with Jane Jacobs. Despite that, the book is great. For the battle with Jacobs, turn to the many other books and documentaries about her. She is worth your time.

I cannot recommend this book enough.
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on July 17, 2016
There really needs to be a Kindle version of this. An awesome book, but even more useful as an exercise weight. Read 10 pages then do a few curls, repeat several times per chapter. You will come away with a keen understanding of the man who built much of NYCs infrastructure as well as a set of biceps like no other.
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VINE VOICEon April 24, 2010
At this point, what more can be said about The Power Broker? That is is easily one of the best non-fiction books ever written? That it is a product of Caro's unflagging patience, intelligence and research? That it perfectly tells the story of one man's devastating impact on the great world city? That it is perhaps more fun than any great book? All of the above is applicable here, as the product perfectly matches the hype.

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.
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on August 9, 2017
Phenomenal book, easy read, the size is daunting but it reads quickly. Gives incredible insight on history, economics, politics, architecture, urban planning and culture of the life surrounding Robert Moses. Recommended for anyone in the studies listed above or anyone who just has interests in history or that of New York City. Can't recommend it enough
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VINE VOICEon February 28, 2010
This book is a truly fascinating study for those interested in the urban history of New York, political power, or urban development. It clearly looks at the rise of Robert Moses who would go on to hold 12 different state, local and private positions including president of the World Fair. Through these interlocking positions Moses would command the resources to build almost all of the major roads, bridges and parkways in the five boroughs today. The story of how these roads came into being is fascinating and articulately and artfully told in this wonderful narrative. In a story so mind boggling it is almost hard to believe you see how "the civil servant that got things done" accomplishes bureaucratic wrangling to harness federal, state, local and private dollars into mammoth building projects. From Jones Beach to the Triborough Authority the master of legislative and monetary manipulation brought together the necessary engineering and political talent to achieve these projects in record time. Despite having enemies as powerful as the President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt or mayor of New York City La Guardia try to oust him he always held on. His ability to blend power from a variety of different sources and form "authorities" that were semi private with shareholders protected by legal rights he could keep his positions. The book covers so many different aspects that a review could go on for 30 pages but the bottom line is that this is a classic in political and urban history that should not be missed.Cl
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on November 17, 2016
This book received a Pulitzer Prize, and it was well-deserved. It is more than merely a biography, it is a detailed, incisive, analytic, highly-researched, and brilliantly written account of the history of a man and the city he rebuilt, mostly in his own image.

There is more to this book, of course, than Robert Moses -- the man, the administrator, the builder, the self-promoter, the cold racist -- there is much in here about how New York City, and by extension, many other cities, are run. It is about power (and the lack thereof), who wields it, how, and why, and how those without are affected. Readers learn how and why such massive projects as Jones Beach and the 1964 World's Fair were created, and how Moses kept the blacks he hated out of them. It even focuses on the lack of playgrounds in Harlem (which needed them) and how even those he built there had racist design features.

There are portraits of power brokers besides Moses -- mayors like La Guardia, Wagner, and Lindsay, governors like Smith, Dewey, and Rockfeller, presidents like Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower, who were all beholden to or enemies of Moses.

The only weakness in this book is that it was completed before his death -- not critical, as it was completed after Rockefeller ousted him from power, but the death of Moses would have been an appropriate ending point.

Moses's impact on New York stands -- immense ribbons of highway, jammed with cars, rapid transit systems that do NOT go where they are needed or were removed, immense housing projects that became ghastly hotbeds of crime and a permanent underclass, equally immense commercial projects that attracted only tourists and beggars, some of which (like the New York Coliseum) were ultimately torn down. We are fortunate that he never got to hack up Manhattan with his superhighways as he did Queens, The Bronx, and Brooklyn.

This is a book that anyone interested in cities, history, race, and the creation of our modern urban environment should do well to read and enjoy reading. It is as mammoth, textured, and richly detailed as its fascinating and highly flawed subject.
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