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The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall…

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974)

by Robert A. Caro

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Am immense work, delving into the life and work of one of NY's most powerful, somewhat behind the scenes, architects of the city we know today. Fascinating. Caro is a treasure, makes me want to start on his LBJ books. ( )
  reluctantacademic | Jun 19, 2013 |
What can I say that hasn't been said? If you want to understand New York or how American government really works, read this book, especially if you are on the lower rungs of the ladder. Robert Caro is simply genius that has left no source of information unexamined. ( )
  PhyllisHarrison | Nov 24, 2012 |
Caro's "The Power Broker" is easily one of the best books I've ever read. And although it clocks in at over 1,200 pages, the prose is so well-written that it reads much faster.

What makes it great? Caro does not pander or bend in the face of Moses' enormous ego but instead calmly and methodically presents this man's life as though he were a regular joe – not the most powerful man in New York for nearly fifty years. In Caro's presentation, Moses' extraordinary achievements – shaping and molding the history and landscape of New York – are presented candidly, with his backroom machinations in plain view, and his true self and political and racial beliefs at full disclosure.

But most impressively, Caro writes in plain English, wending his way through Moses' complicated, evil genius without losing the reader in technical language. The end product is as complete and composed a man's life has ever been reported.

Perhaps the best biography published in the 1970s, this is the deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1975. ( )
1 vote bhenry11 | May 23, 2011 |
Caro’s biography of Robert Moses is considered the definitive work of the mid-20th-century super-bureaucrat who rose from modest means to become the most powerful man in New York City and state. His gradual control of the policies and programs of multiple city agencies over 40 years significantly shaped the political, economic, and physical landscape of New York City in ways that both united and polarized the city. Caro’s portrait is unsparing, depicting a man whose megalomaniacal tendencies ultimately destroyed whole communities by cleansing of elements Moses deemed undesirable. ( )
  kayokid | Apr 9, 2011 |
Caro is a marvelous writer. Particularly when he is conveying outrage. And he'll take his time to let the reader feel his outrage. He does that in this Moses bio as well as his bios of LBJ.

He is also marvelous at questioning the conventional wisdom, seeing behind the headlines, exposing the real story rather than regurgitating the sterilized version.

And the subject of this bio is fascinating, Robert Moses, a man who for 40 years controlled the road and park building infrastructure in NY City and much of the state of New York. Caro details a driven man who when he tastes power, completely succumbs to it and then abuses that power mercilessly against all in his way. At times, I believe Caro is unfair, with confusing time lines to demonstrate how Moses was corrupted by the power he held. But that is a minor point.

This is a marvelous book. The subject is fascinating, the writing fresh, the research detailed. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote jmcilree | Jul 16, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394720245, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:19 -0400)

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Moses is pictured as idealist reformer and political manipulator as his rise to power and eventual domination of New York State politics is documented.

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