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The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Urban studies & biography) Paperback – 1 Nov 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1246 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; later Printing edition (1 Nov. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394720245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394720241
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 283,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

" Surely the greatest book ever written about a city." --David Halberstam
" A masterpiece of American reporting. It's more than the story of a tragic figure or the exploration of the unknown politics of our time. It's an elegantly written and enthralling work of art." --Theodore H. White
" The most absorbing, detailed, instructive, provocative book ever published about the making and raping of modern New York City and environs and the man who did it, about the hidden plumbing of New York City and State politics over the last half-century, about the force of personality and the nature of political power in a democracy. A monumental work, a political biography and political history of the first magnitude." --Eliot Fremont-Smith, "New York"
" One of the most exciting, un-put-downable books I have ever read. This is definitive biography, urban history, and investigative journalism. This is a study of the corruption which power exerts on those who wield it to set beside Tacitus and his emperors, Shakespeare and his kings." --Daniel Berger, "Baltimore Evening Sun"
" Fascinating, every oversize page of it." --Peter S. Prescott, "Newsweek"
" A study of municipal power that will change the way any reader of the book hereafter peruses his newspaper." --Philip Herrera, "Time"
" A triumph, brilliant and totally fascinating. A majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality." --Justin Kaplan
" In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort." --Richard C. Wade,"The New York Times Book Review"
" The feverish hype that dominates the merchandising of arts and letters in America has so debased the language that, when a truly exceptional achievement comes along, there are no words left to praise it. Important, awesome, compelling--these no longer summon the full flourish of trumpets this book deserves. It is extraordinary on many levels and certain to endure." --William Greider, "The Washington Post Book World"
" Apart from the book's being so good as biography, as city history, as sheer good reading, "The Power Broker" is an immense public service." --Jane Jacobs
" Required reading for all those who hope to make their way in urban politics; for the reformer, the planner, the politician and even the ward heeler." --Jules L. Wagman, "Cleveland Press"

"Surely the greatest book ever written about a city." --David Halberstam
"A masterpiece of American reporting. It's more than the story of a tragic figure or the exploration of the unknown politics of our time. It's an elegantly written and enthralling work of art." --Theodore H. White
"The most absorbing, detailed, instructive, provocative book ever published about the making and raping of modern New York City and environs and the man who did it, about the hidden plumbing of New York City and State politics over the last half-century, about the force of personality and the nature of political power in a democracy. A monumental work, a political biography and political history of the first magnitude." --Eliot Fremont-Smith, New York
"One of the most exciting, un-put-downable books I have ever read. This is definitive biography, urban history, and investigative journalism. This is a study of the corruption which power exerts on those who wield it to set beside Tacitus and his emperors, Shakespeare and his kings." --Daniel Berger, Baltimore Evening Sun
"Fascinating, every oversize page of it." --Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
"A study of municipal power that will change the way any reader of the book hereafter peruses his newspaper." --Philip Herrera, Time
"A triumph, brilliant and totally fascinating. A majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality." --Justin Kaplan
"In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort." --Richard C. Wade, The New York Times Book Review
"The feverish hype that dominates the merchandising of arts and letters in America has so debased the language that, when a truly exceptional achievement comes along, there are no words left to praise it. Important, awesome, compelling--these no longer summon the full flourish of trumpets this book deserves. It is extraordinary on many levels and certain to endure." --William Greider, The Washington Post Book World
"Apart from the book's being so good as biography, as city history, as sheer good reading, The Power Broker is an immense public service." --Jane Jacobs
"Required reading for all those who hope to make their way in urban politics; for the reformer, the planner, the politician and even the ward heeler." --Jules L. Wagman, Cleveland Press
"An extraordinary study of the workings of power, individually, institutionally, politically, and economically in our republic."--Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
"Caro has written one of the finest, best-researched and most analytically informative descriptions of our political and governmental processes to appear in a generation." --Nicholas Von Hoffman, TheWashington Post
"Caro's achievement is staggering. The most unlikely subjects--banking, ward politics, construction, traffic management, state financing, insurance companies, labor unions, bridge building--become alive and contemporary. It is cheap at the price and too short by half. A milestone in literary and publishing history." --Donald R. Morris, The Houston Post
"Irresistible reading. It is like one of the great Russian novels, overflowing with characters and incidents that all fit into a vast mosaic of plot and counterplot. Only this is no novel. This is a college education in power corruption." --George McCue, St. Louis Post-Dispatch"

-Surely the greatest book ever written about a city.- --David Halberstam
-A masterpiece of American reporting. It's more than the story of a tragic figure or the exploration of the unknown politics of our time. It's an elegantly written and enthralling work of art.- --Theodore H. White
-The most absorbing, detailed, instructive, provocative book ever published about the making and raping of modern New York City and environs and the man who did it, about the hidden plumbing of New York City and State politics over the last half-century, about the force of personality and the nature of political power in a democracy. A monumental work, a political biography and political history of the first magnitude.- --Eliot Fremont-Smith, New York
-One of the most exciting, un-put-downable books I have ever read. This is definitive biography, urban history, and investigative journalism. This is a study of the corruption which power exerts on those who wield it to set beside Tacitus and his emperors, Shakespeare and his kings.- --Daniel Berger, Baltimore Evening Sun
-Fascinating, every oversize page of it.- --Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
-A study of municipal power that will change the way any reader of the book hereafter peruses his newspaper.- --Philip Herrera, Time
-A triumph, brilliant and totally fascinating. A majestic, even Shakespearean, drama about the interplay of power and personality.- --Justin Kaplan
-In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort.- --Richard C. Wade, The New York Times Book Review
-The feverish hype that dominates the merchandising of arts and letters in America has so debased the language that, when a truly exceptional achievement comes along, there are no words left to praise it. Important, awesome, compelling--these no longer summon the full flourish of trumpets this book deserves. It is extraordinary on many levels and certain to endure.- --William Greider, The Washington Post Book World
-Apart from the book's being so good as biography, as city history, as sheer good reading, The Power Broker is an immense public service.- --Jane Jacobs
-Required reading for all those who hope to make their way in urban politics; for the reformer, the planner, the politician and even the ward heeler.- --Jules L. Wagman, Cleveland Press
-An extraordinary study of the workings of power, individually, institutionally, politically, and economically in our republic.- --Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal
-Caro has written one of the finest, best-researched and most analytically informative descriptions of our political and governmental processes to appear in a generation.- --Nicholas Von Hoffman, The Washington Post
-Caro's achievement is staggering. The most unlikely subjects--banking, ward politics, construction, traffic management, state financing, insurance companies, labor unions, bridge building--become alive and contemporary. It is cheap at the price and too short by half. A milestone in literary and publishing history.- --Donald R. Morris, The Houston Post
-Irresistible reading. It is like one of the great Russian novels, overflowing with characters and incidents that all fit into a vast mosaic of plot and counterplot. Only this is no novel. This is a college education in power corruption.- --George McCue, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Book Description

One of the 100 best non-fiction books of all time according to Time - now a Top Ten Sunday Times Bestseller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read Caro's work on LBJ, I wasn't sure about reading an earlier work on a (certainly on this side of the Atlantic - at least I hadn't heard of him) public works planner, Robert Moses. And a book almost 1200 pages in length and first published in 1974 at that. I've just finished it, enjoyed every page of it, filled with rich anecdotes about Moses and NY in the 20th Century, how an urban bureaucracy can be hijacked by a well-oiled hidden political machine, the energy and dynamism of power - gained, won, lost. Power, corruption, lies. And everything Caro wrote about then is still ever so relevant today. A must-read for anyone interested in how democracy can be subverted by one man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never written a review for anything in my life but I will make an exception for Caro's epic. I have just finished it. It is brilliant.

I must confess that as of three years ago, I had never heard of Robert Moses. This is a difficult confession to make for a person who views themselves as knowing more than most about history. The confession is all the more difficult when Caro lists, as he does in the preface, Moses' list of achievements: builder of the Triborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Veranzano Narrows Bridge, Jones Beach and their stunning Bathhouses, the United Nations building and the chicanery involved in bringing that prestigious organisation to New York, the Throgs Neck, Bronx-Whitestone bridges, the Long Island Expressways and the complete opening up, to the poor of New York City, of the land and beaches of Long Island. Then there were the playgrounds, more than 250 of them, which Moses constructed in New York City alone.

Who was this man? He was a Jew at a time when being Jewish meant being excluded (he was excluded from his university's fraternity solely on this basis) and being on the periphery of social acceptance by the aristocracy. He was extremely intelligent and a possessor of his mother's (and grandmother before her) fierce self-righteousness and self-belief. He alone knew what was right and he would make sure that what he thought was right for the city, what he was sure was right for the city, would be done come hell or high-water, over the heads of objecting home-owners (whom he derided as 'crackpots') or uneasy politicians (whom he advised to take up a new profession if their conscience worried them).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not as good as anticipated. For the UK reader, and after a gap of 40 years since first publication, would have benefited from: i) additional detailed maps of New York City and State at relevant points in the text; and ii) at the beginning and for reference while reading, lists of key characters in Robert Moses' life, key political figures (national and local), key dates, and acronym definitions. Would also have benefited from more rigorous editing / punctuation. Some of the sentences are far too long. Found the first three quarters of the book, which pretty much gives a chronological account of Moses' life, fairly gripping. However, the last quarter is more a series of essays and without a narrative driving things along becomes just too confusing and overwhelming for someone not familiar with the locations and losing track of who is who.
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By A Customer on 12 Feb. 1998
Format: Paperback
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.
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Long an admirer of Robert A Caro’s biographies of LBJ, I confess I had ignored The Power Broker because at first glance a book about a man who built bridges, roads, parks and civic buildings sounded bland compared to the complex personality of Lyndon Johnson. I was wrong and this book fully deserves its reputation as one of the best biographies ever written. Robert Moses was a peculiar man, initially fascinated by, of all things, the British Civil Service and how it remained incorruptible. He doesn’t appear to have been formally trained in anything but he quickly mastered the tedious aspects of statutes and how they are drafted, power structures and where true control and authority lie. He learned a great deal from Gov Al Smith, to whom he was devoted, but unlike Smith, Moses was not a benign man. Throughout his career his personal power was protected by foresight, and the killer clause. He was never elected to anything (and his one attempt to run for office almost destroyed him by exposing his raw and ruthless personality). He was Park Commissioner because that role gave him the kind of inviolate authority that politicians could only envy. It also meant that the public thought he fought on the side of the angels because everyone likes parks. In his early days he was an idealist, and armed with a letter of passage by the Governor, he tirelessly explored the virgin hinterland of New York, jealously guarded by the Robber Baron families who wanted to exclude the riff-raff from the wilderness and the seaside. He planned Parkways that would enable middle-class Americans to drive to the countryside previously barred to them by the privileged. He built vast and luxurious venues where previously there had been just sand, with building materials and leisure facilities second to none.Read more ›
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