Robert Moses and the Fall of New York - The Power Broker

By Robert A. Caro

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kerry grogan
Many years ago a power-hungry man, with the biggest ego ever seen in recent times, decided to build a freeway (the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway) right THROUGH my neighborhood. This was done to many dozens of other little enclaves all over New York City. He ruthlessly ordered many people to move-out so that his highways could be built and he destroyed many communities by spliting ethnic enclaves right in two. He also had the audacity to build his highways all along the waterfront just because of his own strong opinion that the picturesque scenery of the rivers surrounding NYC should be seen by people driving by and NOT by the pedestrians who actually live nearby. That's because he was always driven everywhere he went, and never learned to drive! (This is revealed in the book) The man was absolutely rude.
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sylvia saunders
After reading this book you might well wonder how this arrogant public servant escaped prison. You might want to petition to have every park and roadway that is named after him renamed! On the other hand Robert Caro makes the case for how and why Robert Moses was able to do what he did extremely understandable, and even, inevitable to a point.
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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
renee jerden
I submit that it is impossible to finish "The Power Broker" without really viscerally despising Robert Moses. Partly out of a desire to leave no hole in his argument unfilled, and partly because he has trouble using one word when forty-five words will do, the book is just really, really long -- nearly 1,200 pages. I wanted to get angry at Caro for doing this; every time I considered getting angry at him, though, the next sentence would be some devastating quote from one of Moses' victims. The book could still stand some editing, but it's certainly the quickest, most engrossing 1,200-page read I've ever had.

It's far more than just a biography of Moses. It's a study of how power actually works -- how, specifically, dictators amass power, and how even ostensibly democratic systems can evade public scrutiny. For at least 30 years, according to Caro, Moses was utterly beyond democratic control. Anyone who wanted to get anything done in New York City needed Moses' money, and needed the engineering expertise that he monopolized. Anyone from the City's government who wanted to talk with the federal highway or public-housing authorities had to talk to Moses, who would relay (his version of) their words to the feds. No one could fire him without bringing down an endless public outcry -- an outcry encouraged and protected by the media, which Moses expertly manipulated into printing only what he wanted said and only the statistics that his office generated. Money and media were in his pocket; with those, he was invincible. A purely accidental slipup after 40 years in power led to a crack in the godlike image that the media had sculpted for him. That crack led the media to question one small corner of his power. Having surrounded himself by yes-men, Moses flew in a rage against any such questioning. But you don't pick a fight with the media. (The phrase one always quotes here is something like "Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.") That rage led to still more questioning, which led to still more rages, and by the time it was through his media armor was gone. Down fell the rest of his protection.

That, in the tiniest conceivable nutshell, is the story of Moses' power and its end. The Power Broker is an in-depth study of the processes that made all of this possible. The argument is watertight, as far as I can tell.

My big lingering question from Caro's book is whether any amount of legal tinkering could possibly have saved democracy from Moses. The people with the money will probably always own the political process in this country, whether they buy the politicians outright or do it in more stealthy ways. Much of The Power Broker explains the "honest graft" that powered the Moses machine: payoffs to lawyers hidden as fees, payoffs to insurance companies hidden as premiums, payoffs to banks in the form of interest-free loans, and payoffs to unions in the form of contract favoritism. When Moses "pushed a button," everyone on his side -- which is to say, the lawyers, and insurance companies, and banks, and unions -- would call anyone whom Moses wanted them to call and state in no uncertain terms that the recipient's political career would end unless he did Moses' bidding. No politician could withstand this kind of constant pressure. Moses had to engineer some remarkably clever legislation and get it pushed through without anyone noticing the details, so if anything he's a worst-case example . . . but that's just the point: you want to look at how the system (in this case representative democracy) works when something fails.

Apart from Moses-hatred, two big themes come out of the book. First, I will probably never read a newspaper the same way again. If we believe Caro, the media's coverage of anything related to Moses bore no relation to reality -- both because Moses wined them and dined them, and because they seem just incapable of reporting political backstories. And all the people who actually wield the power are far too clever to pull the lever themselves. The real power in New York, says Caro, is in places like the Chase Manhattan Bank, but the press never bothers to report from there. And the press is much more attuned to clear-cut scandal -- actual bribes, say -- than it is to honest graft. For 30 years, no one had the slightest clue what Moses was doing, even when what he was doing involved condeming the homes of tens of thousands of poor New Yorkers.

The Power Broker's other big theme is that the private automobile is an absolute disaster for American cities. It doesn't even make mathematical sense to build roads to the exclusion of public transit when you're trying to address traffic congestion: train tracks can accommodate an order of magnitude more passengers than can highways. And train tracks encourage higher-density development, by encouraging people to walk to their trains. That higher-density development means people can own fewer cars. Conversely, if lots of people own cars, the whole pattern of development centers on cars -- which is where strip malls and highway ugliness come from.

That second point illustrates the silliness of one common line of American thought. When an ugly patch of road forms that's lined with nothing but strip malls and McDonald's, we're inclined to say, "It must have happened because people wanted it to." But what "people want" is defined by the choices available to them. If someone lives in most American suburbs, he can't "choose" to walk to work. That choice is not available to him. He can't choose to walk to a movie theatre. He is forced, in fact, to "choose" to own a car. He then chooses, like tens of thousands of his fellow-Americans, to sit in the same traffic jam on the same highway. This isn't choice: this is path dependence, enforced by the roads that we've built. Had the government chosen to invest in subways and high-speed rail, the set of choices and costs would be different. But it doesn't even make sense to talk about a choice that's unencumbered by prior decisions or by institutions: the institutions define the set of available choices, and then those choices force future choices of institutions.

The big trouble with a public work like a bridge or a highway is that if society decides in the future that it wants to pursue another path -- say, subways -- that option is pretty decisively foreclosed. Caro illustrates this point with Long Island: it would have been cheap to have bought a 20-foot right of way for high-speed rail while condemning land for highways on the Island. Once that highway went down, though, the value of the land immediately shot up. It shot up even more when houses starting popping up there. Nowadays, even getting started on laying down track for a high-speed rail would involve tens of millions -- perhaps hundreds of millions -- of dollars in condemnation fees alone. Our earlier choices, in a very direct way, made later choices difficult if not impossible.

So it's hard, I think, to escape The Power Broker without really and truly despising the automobile. It's been a disaster for American cities, a disaster for America's rural areas, and of course a disaster for American foreign policy. Robert Moses may have done more than any one man to unite the evils of the automobile with the evils of undemocratic public planning.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities - 50th Anniversary Edition (Modern Library) :: [ Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe) By Pynchon :: Mason & Dixon: A Novel :: Gravity's Rainbow by Pynchon - Thomas New Edition (1995) :: The Death and Life of Great American Cities (50th Anniversary Edition) (Modern Library) by Jane Jacobs (2011-09-13)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trevor huxham
Don't be daunted by the length of this book. Caro's exhaustive work about one of the most politically-powerful men in 20th Century New York (who was never elected to public office) is a page-turner and a classic story of a man acquiring power for power's sake.
Many readers and historians have used this book for a primer on how NOT to conduct urban planning. Moses' heavy hand, disdain for delays and love of the automobile in transit-centered New York City are really only a small part of this story. Like the title says, I think Caro really wrote a tale of a man whose official job titles were "only" the head of the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority and the NY Parks system, but the power he wielded shook mayors, senators and even a president or two along the way. His power transcended political party and popular will, and only did late in his career, as he battled society women over expanding a parking lot in Central Park, did he begin to fall from his once-untouchable pedestal. Caro emphasizes that Moses never used power for financial wealth, and lived modestly his entire life.
Caro does a phenomenal job by describing how Moses' insistence on building the Cross-Bronx Expy through the heart of a thriving residential neighborhood led to the widescale decay of that neighborhood for generations to come. It was certainly the book's high point.
Historians today now look at Moses with a kinder light than Caro did in 1974, citing him for the quality and aesthetic touches he put into many of his highways and parks (remember, by 1974, "form follows function" reigned supreme, and all public buildings and projects were bland, faceless monoliths of concrete and cinderblocks). Even the oft-quoted statement that Moses deliberately designed his parkway bridges too low to accomodate buses has been discredited by Caro himself in later years.
Even if you have never ridden public transit or set foot in New York City, you will not be disappointed by this book. It is perhaps the best biography I have ever written and one of my favorite works of non-fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gee gee
Robert Caro's monumental work on the life of Robert Moses is a long and often difficult read, but remains compelling throughout.

Moses is a fascinating case study and Caro explores him well. As a young man of status, Moses was an enthusiast for municipal reform. He devoted long, virtually unpaid, hours toward the cause of better government. But his efforts went nowhere, leaving him with little apparent future. When a new door opened into state government, he charged in, discarding his earlier beliefs and becoming everything that he abhorred in his earlier life. For much of his career, people would interact with him, thinking that he remained Robert Moses the Reformer, only to realize too late that he was Robert Moses the Power Broker.

It's often said, mostly in jest but with a small kernel of longing, that what this country needs is a few years under a benevolent dictator. The best response to that yearning is Robert Moses. In many ways, he was benevolent. He didn't accumulate power for the purpose of using it for personal gain. But he built an indestructible power base and failed to use it for the betterment of his city.

As the Administrator of the Triborough Bridge Authority, and with ties of mutual financial benefit to other local Authorities, banks, contractors, and labor unions, he was impregnable. From his position of clout, he could force New York City to conform to his vision. Unfortunately, as a child of privilege in the early years of the century, before the automobile began to choke the city, his vision was being rapidly outdated by the burgeoning metropolis. Also, he never learned to drive, but instead worked productively in the backseat while being driven around town. Thus, he had neither empathy nor sympathy for the drivers stuck in traffic around him.

Being isolated within his power base, he was also isolated himself from criticism. He couldn't realize how flawed his vision had become.

Among the mistakes in his approach to public works, he always favored cars over transit. He frequently didn't allow acquisition of a right-of-way width that would allow rail transit to later run alongside his freeways. On the expressways serving his string of parks on Long Island, he specified bridge clearances that effectively excluded buses from the routes.

When doing routing studies, he was willing to undermine solid, working class neighborhoods, even if alternative alignments were available.

He always preferred bridges over tunnels, even when engineering analyses showed that a tunnel was the superior alternative. Perhaps he wanted to view the massive structure that he brought into being. Or perhaps he wished to gaze out over the city, his city, from the elevated deck of a new bridge.

When it came to urban redevelopment, he preferred leveling blocks of housing which could then be replace with the massive towers that posterity has proven to be so flawed. Moses knew how the poor should live, even if the poor had different ideas.

Nor were Moses' effects limited to New York City. As his prestige grew, he was often asked to consult for other large cities. His teams would quickly sketch plans obliterating working class neighbors to accommodate grand freeways to far-flung suburbs.

To some, Moses is still remembered as "the man who got things done". And he did. But if much of what he did was increasingly wrong-headed and failed to adequately prepare New York City for the future, "getting things done" doesn't seem like a favorable encomium.

If you're willing to work your way through "The Power Broker", you'll be rewarded with images and lessons that will remain with you for years. And will likely affect the way you look at the world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cherish
Robert Moses never held public office during the roughly 40 year span of his career, but he has more to do with the shape of New York City and its surrounding environment than any man who ever lived. Moses preferred to work behind the scenes, often in secrecy, wielding a overwhelming power established through his knowledge, personal determination, and by using fair amount of intimidation.

Caro's ambitious and extensive biography examines the play between Moses' prodigious intelligence and his lust for arbitrary power. He documents how the people both gained and lost by consequence of the plans and whims this extraordinary man. Moses was responsible for great parks, beaches, and highways. One the other hand he's responsible for massive traffic snarls, destruction of neighborhoods, and the slumming of the inner city.

This book is not just the story of one man, but is the story of a great American city and how that city became great. Contained in this book is the story of Jones Beach, Riverside Park, the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, the World's Fair, among other great projects.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
maria caracci
Delivery and condition were better than advertised. Cook a big pot of coffee each time you sit down with this book. It's packed with tons of information, names and dates. You'll never remember them all but it's worthwhile history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris policino
If you live in New York City, there is no excuse not to read this book.

Never have I enjoyed a biography more. It is not just a biography of Moses, but New York City as well.

When I first picked up this book (with two hands) it was very intimidating as a casual reader.

However, you quickly become absorbed in Moses and feel his determination. Peeling back the layer into the inner workings of the city I love is great.

The drive, vision, and stubbornness of Moses is something I think can be related to many current day politicians. While the times change, the power struggle remains. Not just applicable to politics, but to any ambitious person trying to change the world as we know it.

On a less profound note, I feel slightly more informed every time I see his name on the parks and expressways around the city :)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lynecia
This massive work, published in 1975, is unfortunately just as timely today as it was a quarter century ago. It is the story of Robert Moses, arguably one of the most important and influential men of the second half of the 20th century. He, for better or for worse, gave us our models for the modern highway transportation system and wielded enormous power in the city and state of New York -- without ever being elected to a single public office.
At 1,162 pages, Caro's work will undoubtedly always face the charge that it needed editing. But to address large themes, a writer needs to expand, and Caro does, brilliantly for the most part. "The Power Broker" takes on the question of whether democracy in America really works. Using Moses' life as a model, the answer is "no." Moses began as a passionate believer in reform, a man who wanted to end favoritism and corruption in New York. Yet early on he concluded that to "get things done," he needed to beat the power-wielders at their own game, and he did. He built an enormous network of influence that included politicians, unions, banks and big business. And he used that power to build the most enormous transportation system in the nation, often over the objections of elected officials.
But the book also makes clear the cost of power. For one thing, there were political losers. Moses was ruthless in his attacks on those who opposed him, often lowering himself to attacking character. Mass transportation was a loser during the time Moses wielded power. He considered the automobile the premier mode of transportation, and he steadfastly refused to accommodate plans for subway, bus, and train improvements. And the poor and working class were losers in Moses' power game. He had no respect for the poor, particularly those with dark skin, and he ruthlessly destroyed their neighborhoods in his grand building schemes.
In the end, we have all lost because of Moses' vision. His idea that we can solve transportation problems by building more and more roads, bridges and infrastructure to accommodate commuters who live farther and farther from the places they work has carried the day, and those of us who live in medium-sized and big cities continue to suffer for it with every minute we lose in traffic.
Tremendous book -- grand in its vision, grand in its documentation, grand in its achievement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tilly felhofer
There is no way around it - this book requires a very real investment of time. But what a payoff! In addition to having a really thick book to put on your shelf to impress your friends, this is one of the greatest biographies over written.

Caro has chosen a truly unique character to profile. Robert Moses is unlike any other person I've encountered in my reading. The man backed down the Governor of New York and the President of the United States from a non-elected position in New York City government. In addition, Moses dominated every mayor of New York and the politics of the city itself for almost 40 years. No wonder the book is so long.

In addition, the book can't help but be a biography of modern New York City. So much of the city bears the fingerprints of Robert Moses that learning about the man necessarily teaches you a lot about how the city became what it is today.

A must-read for fans of biography, stories of power, and New York City.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aden bliss
What more can be said about this book? For over 1,100 pages, it captured my attention. I cannot recall one moment when I wasn't excited to pick the book up and dive into the story.

Caro paints the whole picture. He begins before Moses was even born. You'll learn about Moses' family -- his henpecked father (even Moses later thinks this) and his headstrong and brilliant mother. You then get to see Moses as a student at Yale where he's a poetic virtuoso and admirer of Samuel Johnson. Indeed, later in the story when Moses is in nearly the full swing of his power, he quotes Johnson during a speech to compliment (but really insult) a certain politician -- as Caro tells it, it's one of my favorite parts of the book.

You see Moses the idealist -- starry eyed and seemingly a proponent of all things good -- swept under the wings of Al Smith and Belle Moskowitz, some of the most fascinating personalities in the book. At this point, the story takes off. Moses gets the press on his side and never really looses them for 40 years. Still, one gets the sense that the poet within Moses never really left him, despite his gruffness and outward toughness. He's labeled the "best bill drafter in Albany" -- one of the major reasons he was able to accumulate so much power -- because he had a poet's way with words. Amazingly, we learn that Moses wrote at least one novel under a pen name. Later on, Moses comes full circle by writing literary criticism for a Newsday.

Moses was inspiring, infuriating, likable, not likable, and endlessly fascinating. Caro's writing is wonderful, with an almost conversational quality. His research for this book -- which he details (parts of, at least) in the back of the book -- is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Caro left no stone unturned. I watched an interview of Caro not too long ago, and he mentioned that he was on the fence about doing the book's most famous chapter, "One Mile". Torn between the money-tight realities of life, and artistic desire, Caro decided to plunge ahead (with his wife's support) and embark on the six months' worth of research the chapter would need. The reader is thankful Caro make that choice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jemima osborne
The Power Broker is simply the best biography ever written. It exhaustively covers the history of New York City politics through the eyes of one powerful man. In fast-paced detail TPB shows how Robert Moses "worked" the system and the politicians to achieve his mostly noble goals.

The book also covers the complicated humanity of Moses: he was his own man, never caving to pressure from others.

Never a pawn of politicians because he was his own branch of the government, yet he had very little money.

He built hundreds of roads, but never learned to drive.

Anyone with in interest in NYC history, urban planning or a microscopic study of power and how to get it should read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kate brown
I have to disagree with what some of the other reviewers who said this book mainly will be enjoyed by people from New York and intersted in city planning.

Robert Moses died before I could even walk on two legs, and I've never spent more than three days in New York in my entire life. But this book fascinated me from page one to page 1162, even as I pored over the pages-long passages detailing the complicated, subtly ingenious legalities of the bond contracts that were Moses' means of consolidating his power and slogged through sometimes-tedious descriptions of several of his major projects.

That's because Caro never loses sight of the thing behind every line and dot on the maps included in the book: the man, Robert Moses, himself, his cunning, his restlessness, his ego. I get the feeling that Moses may have himself been an embodiment of New York.

What gets me the most about this book is the bitter irony of Moses' tale -- really, the bitter irony of humanity. He starts out as the perfect idealist, an exceptional man who by sheer will and intellect will systematically pull the rug out from under the city's corrupt Tammany machine and the state's all-powerful, elite robber barons.

Toward the end of the book, he and his network of cronies have become the machine itself. When he finally falls from power, it is not a grassroots reform movement has toppled him, not even because the public and the press have turned against him after decades of blind support. Rather, he is quietly marginalized by the political and financial power of the Rockefeller family -- the heirs to the quintessential robber baron.

So by the end, decades after Moses first became the most powerful man in New York, nothing has changed and, it seems, nothing will ever change.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eoin
I first picked up The Power Broker when it was published 25 years ago. Since then I've re-read it three or four times over the years. It is a true monument to Caro that this book has remained in print in both hc and pb over these years.
This massive work is at the same time a biography of Robert Moses and the metropolitan New York City area. Moses, originally a reformer and a true public servant, somehow became tainted by the power entrusted to him. It was his way or no way -- and once he became firmly entrenched there was no "no way." A typical Moses tactic: design a great public work (bridge, for example) and underestimate the budget. A bargain sure to be approved and funded by the politicians! Then run out of money halfway through construction. The rest of the money will surely be forthcoming because no politician wants to be associated with a half-finished and very visibile "failure" -- it's much better to take credit for an "against the odds" success.
I grew up in NYC at the tail end of Moses' influence and I remember the 1964 Worlds Fair in NYC vividly, especially a "guidebook" that lionized Moses' construction prowess. In school, Moses' contribution was also taught (always positively) when we had units covering NYC history. If nothing else, Moses understood the power of good publicity, and used tactics later adopted by the current mayor (King Rudy) to control the press and public opinion. This book brings Moses back to human scale and deconstructs (no pun intended) his impact on the city.
The book is long, detailed, and compelling. Great beach reading -- especially at Jones Beach! Now that it is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a new retrospective afterword from the author would be appreciated (perhaps a reprint of the article he wrote for the New Yorker a few years ago on how he wrote the book).
An interesting counterpoint to this biography of Moses is The Great Bridge by David McCollough. This story of a great public works project is also a biography of the Roeblings, the family of engineers who designed and built it. They shared Moses' singlemindedness, but the methods and results had far less negative results.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
claudia hochstein
Ignorance is bliss. And you may wish you remained ignorant of Robert Moses and the power he wielded in New York over half a century of the city's most formative years. Builder of most of the highways, bridges, tunnels, parks and public housing projects that define today's New York, Robert Moses answered to no man. If he wanted a highway to run from Point A to Point B, it did. If he wanted a new avenue (7th) to be created - cutting right through the heart of Greenwich Village - it was - regardless of the uproar and outcry.
Robert Moses had a genius for manipulating all angles of the political system. His projects built over the decades (especially the hundreds of parks he built all around the city) brought in huge amounts of adoration for himself and for whichever mayor was currently in office. The mayors would get addicted to this publicity and acclaim and so give Moses a lot of latitude so he could continue this process for them. No mayor was willing to risk losing the Moses-generated goodwill from the people and Moses knew this.
Moses built his power on a number of simple, but powerful bases. For starters, he was the head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. This public agency was chartered with the mandate to build the city's bridges and tunnels. Each bridge/tunnel was allowed to collect tolls, said tolls to be used to pay the bridge's construction costs. Once the costs were covered the tolls were to be eliminated. But Moses, who wrote the Authority's charter(!) slipped in a little loophole that effectively allowed him to collect tolls on the bridges *forever*. Yes - everytime you and I cross a bridge and pay $4 we are doing it because of this one man. This revenue stream was under no other control that Moses'. He then used this money, plus the money allocated to build the projects, for influence peddling. For example, take a million dollars, give it to a politician's friend's construction business, ask him to pave a road somewhere, and the politician owes you one. Or, take a politician in a close race, build a park in his neighborhood, hold a press conference about it and allow the politician to be the star of the show, and he owes you one. Multiply this by hundreds of times over decades and you can imagine the web of influence Moses created for himself.
Take, for a moment, another power Moses had - that of Emmminent Domain. This is the ability, of a city, to condemn any piece of property and take it over for city use. Picture a city trying to refurbish an old pier in order to revitalize a waterfront. Or wanting to tear down an old building in order to put a new one up. But Moses used this power in order to force people out of perfectly normal building and houses. And he had this power unquestionably because he wrote the legislation giving him this power, and no state senator/assemblyman has the time to read these things - they didn't know they were giving him this much power! There was no public recourse to take this power away from him. So when he wanted 7th Avenue to run right through Greenwich Village, destroying huge swaths of property in the process, he just condemned every house and building along the way and threw the people out!
The abuses of Moses are many and each one is worse than the other and too many to go over in this review. His power was too great and it was chilling. The only people who had (in theory) control over him were too indebted to his grafts, bribes, influence, money, and public goodwill to ever reign in him. It is heartbreaking how many (poor) mayors wanted to, but could not, control Moses. In all likelyhood he would have reigned supreme in the New York political world until he died - a political span over more than 60 years. (Let that sink in for a little bit).
That is, until he came across the one person who had no need of his influence. Or his money. Or his connections, or his friends. The one man in New York politics who independently had all of that and more and who could take Moses head on ... (read the book and find out)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alibrabluerose
"Robert Moses, he was a great man may he rot in hell," is a common expression in New York, especially for those New Yorkers who lived through his nearly 50-year reign as a never-elected public servant of the City. From the Triborough and Verrazano Bridges, to the city and state parkways, the famous Jones Beach (and its complete inaccessibility to public transportation, thanks to Moses' conscious decision to build overpasses too low to allow buses to get there) and the displacement of nearly 100,000 New Yorkers in the Bronx to build an expressway, not to mention both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, Robert Moses left a mark more permanent in New York City than any mayor or developer in his time. For anyone who wonders how cities are built - and how opportunities to make them even more livable are lost - The Power Broker is a must-read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tami losoncy
1162 pages of well researched text is what Robert Caro uses to tell the story of planner and political power Robert Moses. Over decades of service, Moses reshaped New York (both the city and the state) and other public structures. He began as a reformer; over time, he arrogated more and more power to himself--and still remained rather out of sight as a figure. He used his power sometimes unconcerned about the implications for citizens. The Cross-Bronx Expressway, for instance, displaced many people. How could he remain for so long a period of time as "below the radar"? He was not an elected official; he served on public authorities, which often have full governmental powers.

His list of public works is extraordinary. The Major Deegan Expressway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Long Island Expressway, and many others. Bridges? The Triborough, the Throgs Neck, the Henry Hudson, the Bronx-Whitestone, among others. He created parks such as Jones Beach, Fire Island, and Bethpage. He built buildings--some for the poor, some for the wealthy. He created stadiums (such as Shea). He had dams along the St. Lawrence River created; there is a large power plant along the Niagara River. And on the listing goes.

A must read for those interested in Moses and in the power of public authorities. . . .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chelsea tilly
Robert Moses. I grew up in a city that had been more profoundly changed by the actions of this one man than anybody appreciated at local Democratic Club meetings on the Upper West Side. All FDR Democrats, in the age of Lindsey, we had no real knowledge of the implications of the Cross Bronx Expressway destroying neighborhoods. All we knew was said by Ed Asner in "Ft. Apache, the Bronx". We had no idea how devastating that road was to the social order...we simply knew that the South Bronx was holding its own in the race to the bottom that Bed-Sty had held for years.
It took Mr. Caro's careful and thorough review of Mr. Moses to tell us how so many changes took place without any real citizen oversight. It is ironic that JHS 183 had us read "A Tribute to Governor Smith" as a part of our 7th grade history class. Amazing and ironic as that little booklet is just about the only thing that Moses wrote for public consumption.
His first patron rated a booklet...later he wrote his own ticket as Caro amply demonstrates by Moses' chutzpah in obtaining and maintaining his power base despite several very savvy NYC politicos' attempts to reign him in.
"Build and be Damned", is the self-titled Robert Moses article in the December 1950 issue of Atlantic Monthly. An apt title for his deeds and an apt epitaph for his deeds.
If the balkanization of the Bronx to Parkways on Long Island to Jones' Beach are at all of interest to you, read this book. The blame or credit lays at Robert Moses' doorstep.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mh3n
Robert Caro's biography reads like an extraordinary work of investigative journalism - damning, erudite and compelling - that surely would have been appreciated by Robert Moses had he not been the subject.

It is a fascinating study of the evolution of government in New York City and Robert Moses' ability to shape laws as the "best bill drafter in Albany" and to seize upon prevailing trends and work the levers of the City, State and Federal governments to his advantage. It is during the Great Depression when Moses is able to mobilize maximum resources, largely from the Federal government, for some of his most ambitious projects.

While at most times a scathing indictment of Moses and his methods, Caro does credit Moses - New York City's first Parks Commissioner - for his contributions to green spaces in the city and his creation of a premier state park system.

Caro insists that judgment about Moses' legacy is premature and that one can only say New York would be a very different place without Moses. New York was indeed a very different place at the time of publication of the Power Broker; Caro has recently commented that some of Moses projects, such as the Triborough Bridge, have been a boon for city residents. Although he never cared for mass transit, it's a shame Moses couldn't come back to start work on the stalled new Penn Station.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
summer dansie
Robert A. Caro's the Power Broker should be required reading for every university-age political science student. It is a marvelous study of the extent and nature of power, gained through non-traditional channels. It tackles the life and work of Robert Moses in an objective manner, and examines his work from a number of different vantage points. At approximately 1162 pages, it is a great investment of one's time to read, but is worth it. Reading more like an "epic" novel, the Power Broker served as perfect winter break reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ethan broughton
How do you get things done, in an environment which was virtually designed from the ground up to make it impossible? Robert Moses knows, better than anyone has known before or since. This is a much more balanced work than the other reviews will tell you; Robert Caro is as unstinting in his admiration for the genius behind Jones Beach as he is with his sympathy for the victims of his vindictiveness. And, in the end, while many of Moses' works probably shouldn't have been built, we have the spectacle of a city in desperate need of more grand projects, but profoundly unable to do anything about it. You see, only Moses could push them through. Do you want to deal with the Man Who Gets things Done, or do you just not want things to be done at all? It's a terrible choice.
This is a truly compelling work, gripping through its entire 1200-odd page length. I recommend it to anyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stacey kinney
Just finished. Absolutely awesome, maybe the best book I have read in years. A great history of the man and the building of NY. This book is not available on Kindle, so I listened to it. Learned so much, just loved it. He did so much good and so much bad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darby stewart
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. THE POWER BROKER absolutely brings New York's history to life. Anyone who has lived in New York, anyone who has loved or hated New York, and anyone who is at all intrigued by New York absolutely needs to read this unforgettable story of a man who was unequaled both in his power and in his effect on the landscape of the City and the State, not to mention his effect on the governments of all 50 states through his creation of the public authority. When high school students ask me about a really great biography, this remains my first choice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth brown
Previous to reading Mr. Caro's superb book, I knew Robert Moses only as an urban master builder who, admittedly, marched to the beat of his own drum. This book will give you the details and the background on every shady municipal deal in New York City from maybe 1890 to about 1974. Moses, the idealistic reformer, finds himself shut out of the Tammany Hall quid-pro-quo dictatorship, and reinvents himself as the ultimate, unstoppable dispenser of power and money. Moses stopped cooperating with Caro when the author's questions gave him a sense of where this work was leading.
Caro scrupulously credits Moses with brilliance, vision and daring, time and again. Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is always quick to follow.
Having read Caro's work, I now feel obligated to look at Moses' side of the story, but, no two ways about it, this is an absolutely amazing work. If Richard Condon hadn't used the title first, Caro might well have called this MILE HIGH.
In any case, if you're depressed about government pushing people around, DON'T read this book. Your worst fears WILL be confirmed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janet craven
I was first asked to read this for an ethics class in college. We were then supposed to write a paper on whether Robert Moses was ethical or not. I was a little upset about having to read a 1200 page book in 5 weeks, but I read it cover to cover. It was a good book, but I think that Caro was a bit too biased against Robert Moses. The book was very descriptive, but it tended to make Moses out to be the bad guy. Although Moses was unethical in the way he achieved his goals, he was responsible for creating the Parkway system on Long Island and he was responsible for creating the beaches of New York. This is the only book I can find on Robert Moses. I give this book 5 stars because it is very descriptive and shows you exactly what Robert Moses did. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in New York City History, anyone who is interested in New York Politics, or anyone who is interested in Urban Planning and Design.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ashley fritz
This book is a treasure-trove of information. It is not only an in depth analysis of Robert Moses a study of Belle Moskowitz, Nelson Rockefellar, Al Dewey, Fiorella Laguardia, FDR and others.

This book is about a man infatiuated with power and not money. It is about the understanding that Moses needed to surround himself with those that had money so that he could accomplish what we wanted to build without be 'outed' as a profit monger.

The book reveals that Moses was racist towards blacks and puerto ricans and what he did to exclude them from the benefits of his labor.

Another plus about this book is the author details money issues in such a way that is not boring and wanting to skip over. He writes with clarity and an 'evenflowness' that kept me engaged through-out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jared
It has been a number of months since I read this book, yet many of its messages have stayed with me clearly and have had an impact on my thinking about how we build our communities today. Such a test of time reveals this book's lasting value - not to mention it was an extremely entertaining read! Look around at the misguided attempts at urban planning both here in New England and nationwide and you quickly realize that our planners of today do not read and have not learned from their history. Consider modern zoning regulations that intentionally spread things out - and compare this to Moses' refusal to allow rapid transit along his parkway corridors, resulting in communities that will never be served by efficient transit solutions. Consider the woefully wasteful highway projects of today (eg. Boston's Big Dig) and compare to Moses' belief that the next big bridge would solve the problem. There are certainly many more themes in this book - Caro's focus is indeed on the corruption of power and Moses' transformation from reformer to the core of the problem - but I believe this book also carries many valuable lessons that need to be communicated and acted upon by concerned citizens in the shaping of our cities from here on.
Read this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel nackman
Exhaustively researched, brilliantly written, THE POWER BROKER is a masterpiece of reporting and fascinating history for anyone interested in urban planning and in NYC particularly. Interestingly, Moses outlived the publication so it would be wonderful if a new edition were released with an "update" to the biography. Regardless, it is impossible not to laud this wonderful work of non-fiction...insightful, revealing, compelling. The sheer size and density of the book may deter some, but once you get going, it's a read you won't forget.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica farrell
Robert Caro's massive book on the legendary urban planner Robert Moses is the story of New York from the 1920s to the 1960s. Though he never held elected office and failed miserably the one time he ran, Robert Moses used his power as head of a multitude of public authorities to reshape the state.

To its credit, the book takes on the dry subject of public works projects and makes the tale of state parks on Long Island, roads in New York City, and the preparation of massive events like the (flop of a) World's Fair interesting and lively. Caro goes deep into the political maneuvering that surrounded Moses' projects, and shows how the man with a keen understanding of legal details achieved his power. Moses wrote up bills that clueless legislators readily passed, barely knowing that they were signing away their power to his public authorities, and used a politically powerful alliance of unions and bankers to pressure timid mayors into supporting him.

Yet its biggest flaw is that the book is too pop-history, despite its great length and much-researched detail. By focusing too much on Moses' character, it makes Caro seem too biased and passes up the chance to explore what portion of the problems were caused by the institutions themselves and not the man running them. Caro also makes too many opinionated assertions.

Nonetheless, the book is an interesting read on what is necessary to make government run.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
helena pires
Robert Caro's masterful biography of Robert Moses chronicles how power corrupts. Robert Moses assumed an obscure government post in New York, and through patronage jobs and construction contracts he turned it into a power center from which he was able to defy New York City mayors and state governors, from the 1930s into the 1960s. Moses, once an idealistic reformer, ruthlessly punished opponents, and rode roughshod over the public he ostensibly served, all in the name of progress.

I never lived in New York, and was unfamiliar with Robert Moses, but the historical lesson of this book goes far beyond local New York politics. It is a fascinating study of the way political power works, and how, if unchecked, it can corrupt even the most idealistic. Author Robert Caro uses exhaustive research and interviews to paint a fascinating character study, and shows why he is the best historical biographer of our time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
liz hill
As with his biographies of LBJ, Caro delivers a scathing critique of the means and purposes of a powerful man in 20th century American government. "Power at all costs" is the theme he applies to both subjects.
The amount of detailed research in the book is amazing. We are able to follow the character development of Moses from his days as an idealistic civic reformer through the transformation by which he became one the most shrewd, and venal, operators in the system he set out to reform. As the years go by, we learn that although Moses's energy and ambition do not wane, his ideas of urban infrastructure design are hopelessly out of date. Furthermore, his preference for glamorous bridges instead of more practical tunnels, and his stilting of the mass transit system in favor of more and more expressways results in censure from Caro. In he end, we are intended to believe that the work of Robert Moses has become a barrier to the development of the greatest American city.
In his judgement of Moses, however, Caro still brings out the genius of one of the most influential shapers of modern urban design of the last century. The genius was, unfortunately, corrupted by the trappings of absolute power in his field.
The book is worth reading as an insight into urban politics, as a history of the infrastructure of New York, as a character study of an amazing personality and as a well written narrative biography. Combined, these factors make the 1200 pages well worth plowing though. Several unexpected stories within the book could stand alone as great (but certainly not impartial) writing. The story of a Jewish neighborhood that was torn down to make room for a Moses expressway is perhaps the most powerful passage in the book.
One final point is that Caro tends to sensationalize the sins of Moses, while painting other characters in a more positive light. For example, very little of the political machinations of Fiorello LaGaurdia and Al Smith are discussed, making Moses look evil in comparison to the two. Caro does a similar thing with his portrayal of Coke Stevenson in the LBJ books. Caro definitely sets out to get Robert Moses, but he backs up his criticism with a brilliant book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie von brand
"The Power Broker" is the seminal biography of our time, and I write that as a conservative! It shows how big government came about in New York city--unaccountable, un feeling and managed by a bureaucracy which trampled over the rights and lives of the people who paid their salaries.

The book also raises the issue of how public works are built in a democracy. Robert Moses did it his way--as a dictator who rivaled Mussolini, from whom he probably learned (or taught) about that subject. As Caro shows, what Moses did in New York was copied in other metropolitan areas. Although lately mass transit has become questionable, at the time Moses was active more could easily have been built but, as Caro details, in order to get votes in the Legislature for his Jones Beach highways he came to an agreement with Long Island legislators, led by future Republican National Chairman Leonard Hall, to only build highways (including overpasses too low for busses to pass under them).

What Moses did, as NYC Construction Coordinator, to the housing market in New York was unconscionable. He built these oversized housing projects which are simply impossible to maintain and again these became the model for projects for low income housing around the nation. Some have actually been taken down and most should be. They destroyed existing neighborhoods and gave incentives to the City's future middle class to simply LEAVE!

The subtitle, "Robert Moses and the Fall of New York," more than rings true. This is a great book and should be read along with Vincent Cannato's biography of John Lindsay, "The Ungovernable City" as a primer on how a brilliant fascist and an incompetent left winger, "a patrician liberal dope" in the words of one of his commissioners (Henry Stern) can do so much damage to a great city.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
keith loggie
When I was a child at Christmas riding in the back seat across one of New York's cheerily illuminated bridges I asked my parents why we had to pay tolls when it seemed likely that the bridges had already been paid for. Why I remember asking that I don't know, but I'm glad I do because here I am now 25 years later with the answer: Robert Moses, who for 40+ years almost singlehandedly shaped the face of New York City for better (nice beaches and parks) and worse (the LIE). Brilliant and ambitious, Moses's acquisition of power and the bad things he did with it is unlike anything I've read--except for Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which details Hitler's backroom powergrabs and eventual undoing due to hubris in much the same thoughtful and thorough manner.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shelia spencer
Until I read The Power Broker, I really had no idea who Robert Moses was. I knew very little about urban planning, New York City politics, or public works. Caro handles the subjects so thoroughly that the lack of familiarity mattered not at all. Moses was obviously a giant of a man. He accomplished great things and made colossal blunders; he was a man of great vision who was blind to the effects his policies had on the less fortunate. The contradictions are laid out in full detail in this monster of a book. It is hard to comprehend the work that Caro must have put into this book; it stands as the definitive biography of Moses and the textbook of urban policy in America.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alesia
Yeah yeah already. Read it back in 1977 when I had no idea about Robert Moses at all. Loved it. Probably paid $2.00 or so for the paperback back then. Good back then, but no way I'll pay $18.00 to buy it again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
scott cohen
Robert Caro goes hither and beyond to report on one of America's greatest entrepreneurs and his impact upon the world's largest city. Ludwig von Mises taught that entrepreneurs essentially have no principles but that their chief striving is to adjust themselves to the contingencies of any moment. Robert Moses (1888-1981), New York's master builder, was a master of this art.
Moses' pursuit and accrual of power was centered in ruthlessness and an uncanny ability to arrange forces to his benefit in almost any atmosphere. His multiple areas of activity - parks, highways, bridges, urban renewal -- mirror the career of Andrew Mellon, whose interests in banking, oil, aluminum, coal etc. made him stand out from single-industry titans like Rockefeller (oil), Carnegie (steel), and Morgan (finance). Moses seems to have plucked this unique approach and ability - both Mellon and Moses were expert in spotting the opportunities in any situation - as Mellon was passing from the scene with the onset of the Great Depression. Yet Moses quickly adjusted to the New Deal paradigm and rode it to success like no other government official before or since.
He even beat back the inventor of the game, Franklin Roosevelt, who tore down Mellon's old school capitalism. Trumped by Moses while governor of New York, FDR tried to stomp Moses from the White House. He was unsuccessful. Moses was Teflon long before Teflon was invented.
Caro, in his wonderful introduction "Wait Until the Evening," points out another Moses' chiddush (novel idea) that increased his power and longevity. While the New Deal was putting democratic forces before economic forces nationally, Moses was doing the opposite in New York City. Yet he still managed to remain a media darling.
Moses tossed idealism aside early after an ego bruising from Tammany Hall. He embraced the Republican Party embrace of bigness that had its roots in Lincoln's passion for preserving the union of the states and McKinley's full-lunch pail imperialism. This bloomed in Mellon and other apostles of industrialism as the religion of commodity production gained supremacy (the Democrats joined the church after envy and technocracy became their guiding stars).
Moses was advocating the Eisenhower Cycle long before this philosophy became attached to Ike. Bertram Tallamy, chief administrative officer of the Interstate Highway System during the 1950s and 60s, said he got his ideas for the system from private lectures given by Moses in 1926. No surprise that Moses fit best with Republicans like Gov. Thomas Dewey (although Democrat Al Smith was Moses' mentor and favorite governor), who tossed aside their conservative better instincts (in Dewey's case he converted to foreign policy expansionism) for a vacant core that held no beliefs other than to equate building and bigness with American patriotism. From there it was a short step to the self-perpetuating doctrine of American exceptionalism. Thanks to Moses and others the most ingrained thing in our culture - even stronger than the religion of commodity production - is that (Credit Daniel McCarthy, editor of The American Conservative, for this insight) the religion of America is America.
Caro's great contribution in this Pulitzer Prize-winning book and his work on Lyndon Johnson is to show how power works behind the scenes as "the people" go about the sham of democracy. Hopefully some leftists will drop their enthusiasm for unlimited government with its associate fantasy that government can be good if we just elect enough of the right people. As they're coming out of the "Yes, We Can" ether, Caro delivers another slap to these believers in government "stimulus" packages when he writes that distributing money is not building. Large-scale construction requires creativity, ruthlessness and tenacity. The biblical Moses was said to have such a thick skin that his neck broke Pharoah's execution sword. To thrive for 44 years in New York politics and change the city and state in the profound ways he did, Robert Moses' skin was at least as thick.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
naghmeh rastegar
This is an epic portrait of absolute power corrupting absolutely. It tells the story of a man who was determined to put his imprint on New York City. He certainly achieved it for better or worse. If people are fascinated by HBO's Boardwalk Empire or the first two films of the Godfather, they will absolutely love this story of an unelected city official who played master puppeteer and master builder of New York City. He controlled real estate and city development in NYC unlike any public figure before or since. Caro paints an illuminating portrait of a man who has inspired the birth of many neighborhood activist organizations all over the country. They were a reaction to Moses' brand of "my way or the highway concrete jungle city planning". He found the perfect nemesis in Jane Jacobs' thoughtful, livable, walkable, community ideal.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danielles
This masterwork shows two equally compelling sides of Robert Moses.
Robert Moses as a young man truly was a visionary. His vision of the workings of a modern metropolis today defines virtually every major city in this country. The twentieth century American city is the vision Robert Moses foresaw in 1918.
His roads, bridges, and parks defined New York, and many are works of genius. His engineering skills cannot be overstated. His master plan for New York government operations swept public service from provincial graft to public accountability. His knowledge and use of how to use all this power allowed Robert Moses to "Get Things Done" on a scale never witnessed before or since. Robert Moses was the first truly urban 20th century man.

But...the dark side of Robert Moses is also faithfully discussed here. His arrogance and vindictiveness are also unfortunately legendary. Presidents and Governors feared him, Mayors took orders from him...and Moses used this power to benefit...Robert Moses. This book deals openly about the heartbreak brought to so many people by Robert Moses. Some parts of this book are very sad indeed.

What contrasts! Do we remember him for all of his great works, for his undeniable genius...or do we remember him for all the people he crushed along the way? I think perhaps we remember him for both of these reasons.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
madeline barone
Robert Caro's "The Power Broker" set the standard for contemporary biography. Rarely does a writer tackle a living subject (Moses has since passed on) and achieved both biography and history. A massive book, "The Power Broker" is not light reading, however, it's one of the most fascinating books I've ever read and once read, you'll never forget it and never look at New York City, or any other American city the same way again. If ever there was proof needed of the old cliche "Power corrupts", here is exhibt A. Robert Moses was a genuis, maybe an evil genuis, but that he left a big mark on the world in which we live there is no doubt. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eilene
One cannot over state Robert Moses' impact on New York's very landscape. Nor is it possible to underestimate his almost rapacious ability to amass political power, his skill at manipulating the political system, nor the degree to which he was able to out maneuver and bully elected officials to his will. As someone who has spent ten years making a living in politics there can be no doubt that Moses was the maestro of politics with an unmatched ability to call the tune. For this reason, this is a must read for those interested in politics.
That said, Caro goes too far in attacking Moses on a broad front, often on charges that are spurious. At the same time, he does not sufficiently acknowledge the contributions Moses made to the City and the Nation. This book follows a problematic habit of Caro of needing to paint his subjects in a purely negative light, attacking them viciously and always underestimating their positive contributions.
On the unfair attacks, Caro charges Moses with ruining NYC riverfront by running highways along them. While that is true as a matter of fact, he fails to explain that, at the time, driving was seen as recreation and every American city followed the identical path. On another score, Caro criticizes Moses because his highways generated traffic thus requiring the creation of more highways. Again the charge is unfair. Traffic studies were at best primitive and the effects of traffic multiplication were little understood.
At the same time, Caro fails to appreciate the sheer scope of Moses vision and the works he built. Nor, while he attacks Mosses' manipulation of the process, does he ever deal with the really tough question of whether another way to build great public works exist other than with a man like Moses.
For all that, Caro's book is still an essential read for those interested in the art of politics and power as well as urban planning. While the book is long, occasionally over written, and shares with Caro?s other works a rather unfortunate tendency towards melodrama. it still offers the reader much that they cannot learn elsewhere. Moses was an artist who used America?s greatest city as his canvas. Sadly, his masterpiece showed signs of early wear and mistakes by the artist.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yolanda denise
There are so many great things about this book, from its structure to its lessons on urban planning, to its portrait of power politics in New York. Robert Moses, the man who did not know how to drive, kills public transportation in NY to build the modern auto-centered city.
This book is a fascinating portrait of a fascinating and hugely influential man. And the writing is marvelous: crisp, precise, it's a model for top-notch nonfiction writing.
If you have any interest in how New York got to be the way it is now, you must read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
danielle jensen
Having read Caro's books on LBJ, I just had to read this Pulitzer Prize winning bio. I was not disappointed. Dare I say Moses was New York City's own little Hitler! There is very little to admire about this man who tore great holes in NYC and catered to the rich. Read how he made sure that the overpasses that ran over the parkways that he built were made intentionally too low for busses to pass under. In doing that he insured that only those who could afford a car could get to his wonderful beaches. He also destroyed neighborhoods and people. Blind with ambition he only cared about building monuments to himself. You will not beleive how he stole power in NY and became the most powerful man in this country - even Roosevelt was beholden to him. He personally held the purse strings to the largest sums of money in the State and probably the nation. But it is a great story and well written. If you live and work in NYC you should not miss this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ruth hyatt
Not often is it that a nonfiction book is all of these at once:
1. Well Written
2. Educational
3. Entertaining
4. Clear
5. Comprehensive
6. Fully documented

This book is quite simply the best of it's kind I have ever seen. It has done more within the first 50 pages to clearly illustrate certain aspects and personalities of the late 1870s to early 1900s than many other books I have recently read, and that is simply in preparation to the book's true focus.

Both interesting and intuitive, Caro's book manages to make history both clear and persuasive. Further, while this book is thick, it does not have the "plodding" feeling many other nonfiction/historical books generally do.

Overall, I cannot recommend this enough, if you are interested at all in any of these:
1. The historical period
2. Civic justice
3. New York
4. The history of parkways or highways
5. Nonfiction in general
and so forth.

This book clearly won the Pulitzer for a good reason.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
keilee kramer
This famous book is kept on the shelves because, like Plutarch's 'Lives', it is a masterpiece of biography. THis vast story of Robert Moses and New York City in the 20s and 30s is large in comperser and minute in details. It combines many great American characters from La GUardia to Al SMith. All these important New York politicians. it describes the Tamanny Hall machine. It is also the story of Mr. Moses and his restructuring of the parks and parkways around New York and Long Island.
An amazing book about power and about Americana.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
salahudheen
Robert caro tells the story of Robert Moses, who was the most powerful man in New York's History. For almost half a century he had shaped both the politics and the physical stusture. It shows how he had turned his public authorities into a political machine that can bring to keens even the gereatest mayors (LaGuardia) and even F.D.R could not control him. He is the greatest master builder of the world.

But can anyone just pick up this book and read it? Yes even though it's well over a thousand pages long. it is very easy to read because how Robert caro had written the book. For Me it was very hard to put down the book, I was reading every where I had a chance to do so, from the subway to school or at home you will find it is a great that demands to be read and very hard to put down. I agure you to go to your nearest book store or on the store to buy this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fabricio teixeira
As a native New Yorker I must say that this is the absolute best book depicting New York History I have ever read! Robert Moses was an amazing man who was very driven. The book gives some good insight into what made him the person he was and how Moses used to stay up all night reading books on every subject.

Moses had a hand in building just about everything that is New York. Unfortunately, he didn't do enough to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
adam roll
My only regret after having read this tome is that I didn't read it 5 years earlier when I moved to the Metro NY area. As well as being an excellent biography, The Power Broker offers the key to seeing and understanding why the region is like it is and how it got that way.
This is still undoubtedly a magnificent book and 28 years after its original publication, still well worth the effort to read it.
I would have preferred to see a little more on the social and historical context of the times which, I suspect, might add some shading to Caro's stark assessment of Moses. (e.g. most US cities ended up "road-heavy, mass transit-light", but they didn't have Robert Moses; I suspect he may have reflected his times as well as shaping them)
Having finished the book, and in discussion with a friend in the Metro Transportation Authority I made the comment that Moses' influence had waned completely by the time he died in 1981. "Oh, Robert Moses isn't dead" was his reply. As I drove back to my suburban home along an RM creation at a pace no faster than an arthritic snail, I understood his reply.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
luis elorreaga
As an ex-New Yorker, I found myself as engrossed as I have been in a long-time on what, is admittedly, an arcane subject: building parks, bridges, and highways. I expected the hero/villain to be an engineer, not an Oxford scholar and Ph.D. Ironically, one of the reasons I left New York in 1991 was my inability to tolerate the traffic snarl associated with Mr. Moses' creations. However, to this day, I miss the views from the bridges to Long Island, the Westchester County parkways, and Lincoln Center (those things that Robert Moses created).
By the end of the book, I was fascinated by the level of respect I had developed for Robert Moses. Yes, he was arrogant, myopic, and corrupted by power (reminds me of Rudy and Bill and Hillary). He dislocated hundreds of thousands to build his projects with no apparent regard to what or who he destroyed. He even sold his soul to Tammany Hall. But yet, he was responsible for building so much of what is New York today. I have to wonder if it takes a Robert Moses to create at the scale that he created? I can't believe that a Tammany Hall or other NYC politician could ever have accomplished a tenth of what he accomplished. I wonder if New York will ever have another such larger than life public figure, and whether New York could survive another Robert Moses?
One of my favorite facts from this book is that of the role of the investigative journalists in "bringing down" Robert Moses. Try as they might for the last 11 years he was in power to bring him down, Robert Moses seemed to land on his feet, almost stronger than before. For all that they unearthed, New York's power elite still supported him against Lindsay. It finally seemed, as Mr. Caro said, it took Robert Moses to remove Robert Moses.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bethann
I too read this book shortly after it came out. At the time, I had just graduated from college and was working at a series of odd jobs while I tried to figure out what to do with my life. I happened upon this book and was swept away. By any measure, it sets a standard that few writers can hope to equal (and Caro himself may go the rest of his career without ever writing another book as good as this first effort). Whether read as a work of biography about a larger-than-life, repellantly fascinating character, an engrossing history of New York, or a penetrating critique of politics and urban planning, you will eat this book up. "In New York City, in the postwar era, the discretionary power resided principally in Robert Moses, and like filings to a magnet -- or, more precisely, like flies to a sugar bowl -- the corrupters, the men who possessed influence over the city's political or governmental apparatus and who were willing to sell that influence for money, were attracted to Moses, and to the seemingly bottomless sugar bowl for which he possessed the only spoon. And Moses did not send them away disappointed." (p. 718) If you like to read, it simply doesn't get any better than this. I've never read anything like it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david madden
I read Caro's sweeping biographical masterpiece when it first came out in hardcover back in the 1970s. I was swept away by it. I recommended it to all then, and still do.
Growing up in NYC, I was taught that Moses was the perfect civil servant, selflessly dedicated to improving the standard of living of New Yorkers through massive public works projects. Caro's book adds more than a bit of detail and a whole new perspective to the schoolboy myth.
Reflecting on the book, and Caro's recent New Yorker article (describing his interviews with RM and his perceptions of the man) it struck me how much RM, like the movies' Darth Vader, started out with the best of intentions. But somewhere along the line, he lost his way. His monomaniacal devotion to building incredibly large and complex public works made him lose sight of their short term and long term impact on the people those projects were to serve.
In the end RM was guilefully and pitifully stripped of his powers by Nelson Rockefeller, who was no Luke Skywalker. Unlike Darth Vader however, RM was never redeemed.
Read this and Caro's ongoing biography of Lyndon Johnson. All highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david braughler
This is quite simply the best book I have ever read. Moses is a towering subject, and Caro responds with a towering biography. The breadth of detail he brings to his subject is astonishing, while the narrative arc of Moses' rise and fall makes the book un-put-downable. Not a single word is wasted.
There is much to learn here: the political landscape of New York over a large part of the last century is brought vividly to life; the role of behind-the-scenes patronage in shaping, literally, the city we see today is illuminated in absorbing detail; the extent to which democracy fails, completely, to provide accountability should and does shock.
But beyond this, it is Moses himself who holds us in thrall. The confounding contradictions of the man---that he could achieve so much to such contemporary acclaim, yet do such profound damage to the city; that he could become, by dint of plain hard work, one of the most effective political agents the world has ever seen, yet wield this power to increasingly repellent ends---these are the questions on which Caro delicately balances his work. Balance he does, and it is a supreme achievement.
I will never again cross the Tri-Borough Bridge without looking down to see Moses' secret lair. One cannot read "The Power Broker" and look at New York in the same way ever again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jerry peterson
Although this book is over 1300 pages, Caro does an extraordinary job chronicling the life of Robert Moses. This book is a real page turner and you can't help but be inspired and repulsed by what Robert Moses did.

This book's main flaw is its relentlessly negative view of Robert Moses. It is true that Moses permanently altered the relationship between New York City and the suburbs. He destroyed vital neighborhoods and undermined the stability of surrounding areas. However, it is a mistake to say (as Caro does) that Moses was the sole cause of what happened afterwards. Suburbanization (and urban renewal, but that's another topic!) after the Second World War was encouraged by all levels of government. To put it another way, if Moses hadn't built the highways (and cleared the "slums"), someone else would have.

In reality, the long-term stability of American cities was undermined by VA mortgages (often cheaper than renting), red lining, cheap oil and the interstate highways. Common wisdom says that the race riots "caused" suburbanization. The truth is that suburbanization was already far advanced in 1965; the riots merely sped up the process. Incidentally, 1965 was the year of the Watts riots, the first major urban disturbance in the 1960s.
Despite the anti-Moses bias of this book, I'm still giving it four stars because it is such a good read! For a more detailed examination of New York's problems in the late 20th Century, I suggest "Geography of Nowhere" by James Howard Kunstler, "The Ungovernable City" by Vincent Cannato, "The Assassination of New York" by Robert Fitch, and the 1961 classic "The Life and Death of American Cities" by Jane Jacobs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nilesh
Having grown up in upstate NY and having lived in Long Island recently I saw much evidence of Robert Moses' mark upon the NY metropolitan area. This book is a well-written and thoroughly researched biography on the life of this pivotal figure who shaped modern NYC and state, for the better, and in many cases, for the worse. Published in 1974 and winner of the prestigious Pulitzer prize, author Robert Caro researched and wrote this book at a time when Robert Moses' legacy was being called into question, NYC was in a fiscal crisis, and many were reconsidering the process by which we should remake our cities.

This is a must read for anyone interested in the urban design and an interest in the kind of tactics this powerful personality used to achieve his objectives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anmol
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York is perhaps the most brilliantly written, most brilliantly researched treatment of the modern history of the greatest city in the world. The role of Robert Moses, in the development of New York City, is expertly and accurately portrayed by the author. Moses does not emerge a hero in this book, nor should he, but his story is a compelling one. This book is without doubt a "must-read."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vibhav
Stupendous in the scope of its research, meticulous and flowing in its prose, Caro's biography of Robert Moses is not only of interest to New Yorkers and students of urban politics, but is essential reading for anyone anywhere seeking insight into the exceptional human personality and its attendant darknesses.
The first pages of Caro's book point to a saga of a white knight corrupted, but as we read on (and on) we find that the author's fascination with his subject includes much positive feeling. The book is a great read for this very reason: in one chapter we are incensed by Moses' ruthlessness and his crushing abuse of power, in the next we marvel at the scope of his vision, his intellect and vigour. Moses, embodying all that is good and bad in American political life, emerged from this giant book with his carefully engineered reputation in tatters. But Caro has granted his urban Machiavelli immortality amongst true readers of non-fiction everywhere.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
griff
I was born and now live in Buffalo , New York . The reason I mention this is because I want the potential readers of this book to understand this man tentacles streched a lot further than a few bridges in the other Big City . My beautiful and historically significant city has a wonderful distinction . It has a Robert Moses- built expressway running straight through the middle of our Frederick Law Olmstead designed parkway system . This man actually destroyed a historical legacy and the real tragedy is most Buffalonians don't even realize the damage . I have called many people in political office and asked them to start a movement to REMOVE this attrocity and restore our wonderful city back to what Olmstead originally visioned so long ago .Anything less is paying homage to a "public" official who wielded power on a scale similar to J.Edgar Hoover . All in a supposedly free country where people have a say and vote on things . Yeah , right .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kim voss
The Power Broker sits at the top of the list of histories and biographies of New York and its people. Caro scrupulously details the political workings of New York for more than half a century and describes the means by which the city was (literally) shaped. It is a monumental work in urban history and political biography. Robert Caro documents the use and acquisition of political capital and power better than any other author, and this is no exception.
What is more amazing, still, is the depth and quality of research. In reading The Power Broker you come away with not only a history of New York's parks and Moses' lust for power, but shorter biographies and histories neatly sewn into the text, e.g., a detailed but brief biography of Al Smith. The thorough background Caro presents is often as mesmerizing as the rest of the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kaitlin
Robert Moses dominated NYC. Mr.s Caro's Book tells how. THIS BOOK IS A MUST FOR ALL POLITICAL JUNKIES. No stone is left unturned is this telling biography. No tidbit left to random chance. I read this great BIG book for weeks and was taken back in time to early new york city. I came to understand how NYC works. I realized that their is such a thing as unsatisfied greed. Their's nothing some people won't do for power and more power and Robert Moses was one of those people. Instructive also in the transformation of Robert Moses from young Idealist to ruthless Dominator. Instructive on how public works programs work. City politics shown as it really is. Alexis Tocueville would be stunned be America's failure of democracy. I know I was. A great, great book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
diana i m so lucky
Robert Caro does an excellent job detailing the life and work of Robert Moses. He gives the reader such a detailed account of the impact Robert Moses had on the New York metropolitan area that one actually is introduced to dozens of worthwhile "mini-biographies" within this book of 1162 pages. He gives an excellent description of a multitude of mayors, governors and other politicians, statesmen, and businessmen that Caro's description of these individuals are sometimes more comprehensive than their own biographies.

Caro is comprehensive without resorting to gossip, inuendo and unsubstantiated claims. The Power Broker chronicles Moses'early life as an idealistic but abrasive reformer who is brought under the wing of Governor Al Smith and staff. A significant part of his rise to power should be credited to Governor Smith who has complete trust in Moses and other aides regardless of public criticisms affecting his administration. Smith was absolutely loyal to Moses and supported his endeavors as it related to the fruition of his dreams involving building parks and highways.

Moses gained a great deal of power as the years progressed and became less of an idealist and more of a pragmatic politician who as the steward millions of dollars in city, state, and federal funds for housing, parks, highways, and bridges created a system by which many sectors of society depended on him for jobs, contracts, and political patronage. Unions, politicians, contractors, developers all benefited from Robert Moses.

When picking up this book, I asked myself why the " Fall of NY" portion of the title. If you read the book you will understand that contrary to modern day urban planning, many of Moses' projects were more about his accomplishments than the people adversely affected by the projects. Whether it is the construction of Lincoln Center, the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the reader will see that no mechanism existed to balance the needs of building with the long term social ills that massive construction projects can create.

For anyone who has spent any amount of time in New York City or its surrounding suburbs, many questions are answered by reading this book. Many of these questions have to do with transportation and urban/suburban planning. Caro is highly critical of Moses as were many people during the end of his reign in the late 1960's, but he manages to be objective enough to give credit where credit is due. A book of this magnitude can only reach 1162 pages by being objective .

I higly recommend this book, it is by far the best biography I have read thus far and is told in its proper historical context. Rober Caro did an admirable job in telling the story of a giant of a man who was vehemently loved and vehemently hated by many.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
grace lilly
I believe this may be the finest biography ever written. Full of twists and turns, a fascinating study of power and its ability to corrupt, the definitive book about the evolution of modern NY, and written in the incredibly compelling, lyrical style that makes Caro's Johnson books so fascinating. When you drive North or South through NY, across the bridges and down the parkways you will always think back to this book and you will understand why those roads and bridges are located where they are and you will think of Robert Moses and this book. Of the thousands of books I have read in my life, I believe this is my favorite one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
george eleftheriou
By reading this book, you will see how power corrupts. By reading this book, you will learn the dark side of everything thing they said was good about the building of New York. By reading this book, you will be entertained if you like history especially from New York.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky weber
I have read this book twice. Caro has opened new worlds for me and to any reader who has read this book. It is so detailed and so brutally honest, that it is difficult at times to aborb it all. Caro's other work on LBJ is just as momentous. I have never felt as if I knew the subject of a biography as I have after reading either the Path to Power or The Powerbroker.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
rakesh nath
The actual story of building a great City like New York was worth reading. However, the book seemed more like a "hit-piece" on Mr. Moses than an objective book. The book doesn't take into consideration the context of the time in which Mr. Moses worked. The breadth of time and the span of projects that Robert Moses accomplished is astounding, especially when you consider many are still functional today. I was more interested in how he used the funding system to accomplish New York City's goals. I read the book to see how he managed to fund and build his projects. I got more of a lecture on how bad he was. I get that it is fashionable to dislike Moses and his methods, but we sure could use even half of his know how to rebuild our infrastructure and manage funding of projects!

I would have preferred a more objective look at Moses and the context of the world he operated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nichole dirrtyh
I read this book as required reading for a political science undergrad course (yes he was a tough professor). We were required to finish the book in eight weeks and then take a mid-term based solely on the text of the book. The initial grumbelings by the students in the course were audible until Dr. Seeny told us that the book had been cut in half by the editors. Yes,this 1100 page book with over a million words had started out at over 2 million words.
I have read with interest some of the reviews that indicate Caro could have done more with less, however after reading this book as well as both his masterpieces on Johnson I am left wanting for more. I would welcome the opportunity to read the full un-edited version of this book.
I am also anxiously waiting his third volume on Johnson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa gallagher
I believe I learned as much about politics and city goverment from reading this book as I did in two years of graduate school studying urban planning and policy. It's one of those tomes that helps you better understand, although not always respect, the otherwise confounding actions of elected officials and those who influence them.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amir hesam
An astonishing masterpiece and a testament to the idea that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." This is a must read for anyone who has the slightest interest in the history of New York City and its surrounding area. As an attorney for NYC who finds himself dealing with high ranking government officials, this book is a political bible in understanding how power has been and still continues to be consolidated in NYC. The book is lengthy but it is certain to endure. (I'm not sure if I can say the same for the structures that Robert Moses developed. They recently started demolishing his beloved collisieum near Columbus Circle.)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cshecmia
There are tremendous costs to getting things done at all costs. On the other hand, after thirty years of NIMBYism, one is more sympathetic than Caro to the legacy of Robert Moses. The tension between authoritarian accomplishment and stagnation continues. It sure looks like they are reading this book in China.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica johnson
I echo all the well-deserved praise written here by other readers. This book is one of the great works of fiction of our time.

However, I disagree with reviewers who feel Caro concentrated too heavily on the negative side of Moses's legacy. Caro actually took great pains to praise Moses's genius, especially before it was corrupted by his rampant quest for power. The section on Jones Beach is a great example of this; the chapter on how Moses raised the funds to build the West Side Highway (Henry Hudson Parkway) is another.

Caro also celebrates Moses's outsized personality, energy and drive. Although the author disapproves with much of how Moses used his genius, Caro knows a genius when he sees one.

If the view of Moses is not balanced 50-50 between positive and negative, that's because the author believes Moses's legacy to New York was overwhelming negative. As a lifelong New Yorker, I can only agree.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chip minnick
Have you ever thought you really understood something and thereafter learned that you didn't understand at all? This was my experience while reading The Power Broker by Robert Caro. The clarity and breadth of this book made me feel if suddenly the curtain had been thrown back to reveal the real reasons for government actions that can appear so unreasonable. I had previously read and enjoyed Caro's LBJ biographies(I hopefully await the third volume)but I believe The Power Broker is his best work. If someone can refer me to the New Yorker article by Caro regarding Moses' reaction to the book, I will be grateful. [email protected]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
matt lundeen
Born and raised in Westchester County, New York with relatives in Manhattan and a frequent bather at Jones Beach, I threw many coins into Robert Moses' toll booths on the Henry Hudson and Whitestone Bridges. But I hadn't become politically conscious during Moses' reign of power. Caro's thorough research and uncommon gift for story-telling put a man's name to the familiar highways and budges I traveled in New York but more, Caro showed how power in the hands of one who seeks it for his own ends corrupts absolutely.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hafsa
What an incredible book and story. So well researched and paced, whether you read 200 pages or all 1200 you should thoroughly enjoy this book. The backdrop of Tammany Hall NYC alone makes it interesting, but Moses and his career are something completely unknown in today's age.

Interesting side note, check out this transcribed lecture by Peter Thiel that gives an argument for why we no longer have big plans like those of Moses and the Space Race... [...]

Enjoy
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rachel kassman
There is good reason this book has remained in print for 25 years and is as timely and fresh as the day it was first published. The Power Broker is so much more than an accomplished biography. It reaches into the soul of a man, a city, a nation, and a century. It is a masterwork.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jimketter
This is a sweeping look not only at the man who reshaped New York City, but also at the birth of the urban renewal concept and how its idealistic beginnings were subverted by personal agendas, politics and money.

It's also extremely well-written - an engrossing tale despite its expansive sweep and length.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chelsa echeverria
This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. Caro has written the history of Robert Moses in a way that is interesting, thorough, and quick to read. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in government, planning, public works, or politics.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
austine etchevery
I read this book while on vacation, on a beach, surrounded by the Grishams and Clancys that so bore me to tears. If you are similarly inclined, and you also happen to care about U.S. politics and quality of life, then this may be the beach book for you.

Caro writes very well, and at a personal level the story is compelling. It is the life of an extraordinary man. The bonus is finding out why there is so much suburban sprawl in the US and that the Bush tactic of ruining your political opponents (and getting someone else, Rove, to take the blame) is nothing new.

It took me about 30 hours to read over a two-week vacation. Enjoy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura
I have just read this book. It is like reading the annals of the Roman Emperors. Caro gives the hubris-laden life of Moses full and dramatic treatment. It is also the story of New York, of power, of frustrated desire. Highly recommended. A page turner.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris stanford
This is a book I read when I was in college and have repeatedly recommended to friends. I recently reread it again and it still holds up as a terrific example of serious well written and well researched scholarship that is unmatched to this day. The author's work on Lyndon Johnson is equally exemplary. I'm really grateful to this author for such a commitment to history.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris burd
I cannot add anything to the reviews above describing the book. Suffice it to say that it is probably the best combination of compelling narrative and factual research written in the 20th century. It has been recognized as a Masterwork and the recognition is both accurate and appropriate.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
krishna kumar774
My praise has to pale beside the mountain of kudos this book has received. The best book ever about power in America, the best book about the recent history of New York City, the best book about city planning.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gino cingolani trucco
Took me only 10 days to read. I found it very hard to put down and literally raced to the end. No question in my mind that Robert Moses was an abuser of power and that the heart wrenching acts he committed were hard on MANY people. Do I fault him? His visions were pure, but his methods impure to humanity. A very good read. Look forward to reading the rest of Mr Caro's books which I have already bought and are waiting for me in my library.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
niki worrell
Spectacular. Caro makes many great accomplishments, showing us 1) how the game of politics was played in 20th century New York 2)how Moses' accomplishments that everyone praised negatively affected New York and 3)the prices of getting things done. All of this encompassed in a 1164 page book that manages to be a continuous page turner. This invaluable resource will make you love, hate, respect,and pity the man who did so much for New York and who, previous to Caro, did not get the attention he deserved.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aditya adeeb
Back in 1958 I was employed by the NYSDOT,who was working with the Moses group on the Moses Power Project in Niagara Falls, N.Y. and was considerably impressed with them. As a result I had read a borrowed copy of the book. since then I have wanted to reread it as I felt it was a great revelation of the times we were living in. Though the title doesn't give Moses the credit it should it never the less is an excellent book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
claramcgrath
I cannot recommend this book enough. This is a must-read for those interested in the cultivation and use of power. Caro provides a painstaking analysis of Moses' greatest public works and those who were displaced, discounted, and destroyed as he realized his dreams.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sheridan
This book is an amazing accomplishment. It can a labor to read, but the work is well worth it. I wish there were 100 Robert Caros, each analyzing some piece of our collective history with the same eye for detail shown here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
librarylady
After picking up this book, I never wanted to put it down. That's saying something, considering how long Moses' Power Broker is. It really is the best nonfiction book I've ever read, and the prose reads just as smoothly as any fantasy book. This is how history should be taught. It explains the big questions - where does power come from? how does one get it? 5 stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yousra samir
By the time the public meetings and press conferences happen, the deals have already been done. The real dramas of politics usually go down behind the scenes. Robert Moses perfected this on a massive scale -- even more amazing when you consider that he never held an elective office.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
therese
If you want to understand America and American cities, you must read three books:
"Common Ground" by J Anothony Lukas.
"The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs.
And this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
masha
This is one of the best books of any type I have ever read. It is more than a biography- it is a thought provoking comentary on the nature of man and the coruption of power. It is well worth the investment of time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hassona
One of the top three books I have ever read.
A stupendous story about an astounding man told by a master author.
A man who literally shaped Manhattan and New York State, for better or probably worse.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah spector
I am always mystified why Americans hear so little about Robert Moses from a historical perspective. He is a towering figure of the 20th Century, and love him or hate him, you should know about his imprint on our society and how he shaped our urban culture.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
joanne dielissen
This tome is well written and it's obvious that Caro assiduously researched his subject. My issue is that there's far too much detail. Then again, I am not a New Yorker, so I probably lack the appreciation of a native who knows the bridges, parks, and other public works inside out. If you REALLY want to read every minute detail of modern New York, this is the book for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alia
This book can be one of the best I have read in a while. It brings to the surface more about Robert Moses than I ever knew. Its a page turner, as a matter of fact I just took some time to write this and now I must be going.

Marcos
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
northern belle bookworm
This book, written years ago but still apropos, should be required reading for Sociology majors, but mostly for budding city planners who have a great "plan" but not too much sense.

Totally entrancing story of a good and brilliant man who went too far.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arianna
I was completely surprised and satisfied with the book and the speed of delivery.
I honestly was not expecting the delivery as quick as I got it. It was a great experience.
I would definitely purchase from here again.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
erin dion
Done with The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro. It won a Pulitzer Prize and is regarded as a great book. It is about Robert Moses, a name most American's will be unfamiliar with. But for 40 year's he was probably the single most powerful man in New York history, both state and city. At one point in time he held 14 different public offices, none elected, he was a super bureaucrat. The book is a kind of analysis on how things are really done in government, "getting things done" is a phrase that commonly pops up. It is an exhaustive analysis of this as seen through the personage of Robert Moses, almost 1200 pages. I do not recommended this read unless your a serious student of New York history. I've only read it cause its on a reading list I'm working on and cannot say that I like it. The personnel story of Moses is interesting, how he starts out idealistic, gets rebuffed, then does whatever is necessary to get power, then once having it uses it with efficiency and utter ruthlessness, so fixed on his personnel vision he ignores the collateral damage he causes. finally, he is brought low through his own hubris.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marigold
Don't get me wrong. I love diving into long histories or biographies. This book however is needlessly long. He repeats points time after time and also adds endless detail that is immediately forgotten and does little to push the story forward.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
yohanes nugroho
The book started well going back when Robert went to Yale and his brilliance won many of his classmates. The author said he was very good looking and people was drawn to him once they knew him. I read around five chapters and I was in the part that his mentor and boss, he learn the art of politics. But I do not know if it was the writing was dry and matter of fact or that the character was not all that interesting and perhaps if I would have finish the book, I would have been impressed. But my time is valuable and if the book does grab me in the first few chapters, I have to force myself to finish-NOt to say, I have not been surprise when the beginning sucks and the ending is epic. But there are instances of this far and few and I cherish my time so, that my review.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
umachan lovchik
Extremely disappointing. I bought this book hoping to find out how Moses became a genius in making the law being passed the way he wanted, how he did political transactions with others, how he maintained his grip over people. The author glossed over all of them. This is not a book for aspiring people who want to learn something from Moses--but more for academics who want to evaluate his legacy.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
dzikrina
it would be a necessity to read Moses' response to this biography. He is obviously very dissatisfied about his figure in this book. The original copy of Moses' response could be found at this link.

[...]
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
evren
This book weighs 4.3 pages, and is enormous. It is also an enormously important biography - and chronicles the destruction of New York City as it was. Please, please release a Kindle version - I'll buy it the minute it comes out.
Please Rate Robert Moses and the Fall of New York - The Power Broker
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