The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York Paperback – Jul 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
In the early years, as Caro rightly points out, Robert Moses' vision helped the city out of its doldrums of the Great Depression. He offered hope and a future when the present seemed so doubtful. At what point did Moses shift from a true visionary to a ruthless, megalomaniacal autocrat? To a neighborhood-squashing tyrant without conscience? There is no one event or series of events to explain this change, and Caro wisely avoids claiming there is. That is not his concern, anyway. What Caro does map out are the paths of destruction that Moses gouged through the metropolitan area. The interviews and extended quotations are very revealing, almost chilling. Moses's sang froid about New Yorkers--and how he cultivated it for half a century--defies reason. Yet this book, "The Power Broker" is as close to an understanding of Robert Moses as we'll ever get.
Robert Moses, a man of considerable intellectual capacity and enormous energy, demonstrates also an insatiable appetite for political power. His flaw is his fundamental dislike for the people he serves. The type of power he seeks is not that based in electoral competition and consent of the governed but that of bureaucratic power in the service of the most powerful segments of society. Having once attained power, he employs all of the tools at his disposal to become the indispensable man, repeatedly challenging his politically elected, nominal bosses to fire him. His ability to continue in office through repeated changes in leadership is a testament to his tenacity and ruthlessness. He then uses the appointed positions he has attained to acquire others.
One of his early positions is as an aide to Al Smith in the New York Legislature. Here he learns to write laws and, using his considerable talents masters the arcane art of drafting legislation. This serves him well in later years as he cajoles and bullies legislators to create special districts, which have as the head of the district whoever is currently the head of the Long Island State Parks Commission. Who might that be? You guessed it.
His power continues to grow through the century and his influence on the growth of New York is inescapable. That he may have done a lot of good is a question open for debate. Are the results of an undemocratic and in many ways authoritarian process good?Read more ›
During his reign he built 627 miles of highway, enough public housing for 555,000 people along with hundreds of playgrounds, ballfields and tennis courts in the city, and a handful of enormous state parks beyond its borders. If that seems overwhelming enough then you should be aware that he also built the Triborough, Throgs Neck and Whitestone, Marine Parkway, Cross-Bay, Henry Hudson and Verrazano Bridges.
The book's original publishing date in 1974 marked a time when NYC began a serious decline in almost every important measure. The subtitle of the book is, Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, but one could argue that Caro was referring to the people and system abdicating so much power to one man and not the ugly period NYC went through (the two are intertwined). Moses fought for his beliefs but many considered them dangerous and certainly unsustainable such as his love of cars over mass transit.
The book was seven years in the making and runs a daunting (but awesome) 1,344 pages. It caused a stir when published, ushered in some changes, and provoked debate for decades. One interesting argument that has surfaced in recent years comes slightly in Moses' favour.Read more ›
The image that will spring to mind while your reading is one of Mr. Burns from "The Simpson's" being in total control of Springfield.
In short, this humongous book tells of the story of what happens when there are no laws limiting the power any individual should have. I gave it only 3-stars because the author documents much more than is necessary and that increases the size of the book, which in turn discourages the average person from undertaking the serious task of reading it from cover to cover.
Most recent customer reviews
Major work on a conflictual person. Well writen, English is my second language and I understand everything. Clear, clear, clear!Published 3 months ago by Lapierre
a great piece of history in this book. robert moses was a both a genius and idiot. he believe he was the only person that had good ideas and he needed yes men to do this. Read morePublished 14 months ago by erik a thiessen
The book was shipped immediately and arrived within a short time frame. The condition of the book was good, as advertised by the seller.Published on Dec 26 2011 by maya
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Very well-written, informative and manages to create a great narrative that combines Moses' life with that of the city around him.Published on Feb. 19 2009 by Tsq_Bone
Although this book is over 1300 pages, Caro does an extraordinary job chronicling the life of Robert Moses. Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2004 by Alvin Wong
One could go on and on about this book. Simply stated, it's the best non-fiction book of the 20th Century. It's a must read for anyone interested in American civilization.Published on Jan. 31 2004 by Amazon Customer
The Power Broker sits at the top of the list of histories and biographies of New York and its people. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2004 by Michael Degnan
Having read thousands of other books since reading and re-reading THE POWER BROKER has not dulled my glowing enthusiasm for nor vivid memory of this gem of a biography. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2003 by N. S.
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