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The Power Broker

4.51 of 5 stars 4.51  ·  rating details  ·  4,976 ratings  ·  611 reviews
Book Description
A fresh look at the greatest builder in the history of New York City and one of its most controversial figures.

In various roles in city and state government from 1930 to 1965, Robert Moses reshaped the fabric of the city. From Lincoln Center to the Triborough Bridge, the West Side Highway to the Cross Bronx Expressway, his public projects, reassessed in thi
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Hardcover, 1246 pages
Published by History Book Club (first published January 1st 1974)
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Jessica
May 21, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone in the goddamn world (especially New Yorkers)
This is definitely the greatest book that I have ever read.

Midway through adolescence, I began wondering a bit which life event would finally make me feel like an adult. Of course I had the usual teenaged hypotheses, and acted accordingly to test some of them out. Getting drunk? Having sex? Driving a car? Going to college? None of these things did make me feel grownup; in many instances, their effect was the opposite. I had a brief thrilling moment of maturity when I voted for the first time at
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Hadrian
Robert Caro's The Power Broker is the Citizen Kane of books. This is not only because of how often both are almost universally praised, not only because they have both become a cipher for what you want to refer to something truly Great in that form of media, not only because they are both narrative biographical epics which can also discuss the intimate details of the personal lives of their subjects, but also because they both the stories of engineers of human society on a grand scale.



Robert Mo
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Matt
At nearly 1,200 pages of text (not including endnotes and the index), Robert Caro’s The Power Broker is a big book. And despite its uniformly excellent quality – its Pulitzer Prize is well deserved – I felt every single one of those pages. This book came to dominate my reading time, to the extent that I started using my reading time to do other things, like watching erotic thrillers on Netflix streaming video. Like I said, it’s not a bad book. Actually, it’s a great book. Therefore, as I plodded ...more
Jan-Maat
This is a book about power...And parks.

For forty-four years Robert Moses through the control of different institutions, often whose formal authorities he had designed and drafted into legislation, created a power base that enabled him to escape the constraints laid upon bureaucrats and elected officials and to stamp his vision upon the developing city of New York.

If the Bonfire of the Vanities is the shock book of 1980s New York then The Power Broker Robert Moses and the Fall of New York tells
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Mishka
i have never been afraid of hyperbole so here goes: i bow down before the greatness of this book. i can separate my 10 years living in new york as pre-caro and post-caro. every aspect of my life in new york, the subway, the roads, parks, politics (current and historical), every detail of mishka brown's highly anticipated treatise 'what i would do if i was in charge - the new york city edition' (yes, i talk about myself in the third person) is influenced by this book...this book is so vast, so fa ...more
Brian
In early 2012 on a business trip to NYC, I was driving on Long Island Expressway for the first time when an odd and seemingly unnecessary bend in the road got my curiousity. Searching for the answer later in the day brought me to Robert Moses, which then brought me to this book, and as much as I loved this behemoth, I'm still trying to figure out if I'm in a better place viz-a-viz humanity for having read it.

Want to read a good horror book? Forget the kings of the genre in fiction, Caro has serv
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Jerry Raviol
Although many folks know he is responsible for parks, bridges, roads, and tunnels - did you know that he reformed the budget system for the state of New York? Did you know that he was an Ivy League do gooder that never had a real paying job until he was more than 30 years old? Did you know that he spent his entire young adulthood trying to reform government? Did you know that the man most responsible for the highway, bridges, and tunnels of NYC, never had a driver’s license? He was chauffer driv ...more
Steven Peterson
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 peo ...more
Jay Oza

If there is one book you want read besides a religious book, I would make this that book.

We all have ideas, and very few of us ever even get to create a vision, but unless you have power it will go no where. For example, Steve Jobs didn't get Apple to be #1 because they out innovated others. It was because he had power. If you want to understand power, read this book, since it is so well written and researched. You get the feeling that Caro knew Moses better than he.


This book should be studied,
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Tony
A massive, magisterial work on the man who built the roads, parks, etc. in New York. I'd been meaning to read this book for a long time because the author's continuing books on Lyndon Johnson are superb. The Power Broker did not disappoint. At times this bordered almost on too much information and there were certainly some thematic redundancies. But these are mere quibbles. There is a real sense of 'being in the room' while events are occurring. Caro, likewise, is able to explain legal, structur ...more
Aaron Arnold
This is a six star book. I read it after having hoovered up Caro's LBJ series, and while nothing to me can equal those for sheer writing power, this comes damn close. Like those books, this is exhaustively researched and sourced from an unimaginable number of archival documents and personal interviews. Like those books, it is the study of a man who loved power more than anything, and whose most minor whims have consequences that echo to this day. Like those books, its depth seems to encompass th ...more
Nick Black
Amazon, 2008-10-13.

Something about Caro's writing is really irritating me, and I can't put my finger on it. The characters thus far are awesome, though. I wish I had more time to be putting into it :/.
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2013-09-13 picked this back up a few days ago, after reading Caro's LBJ books last year. started over from the beginning. really wondering how Caro is going to justify the remaining ~500 pages, though the first 500 were pretty damn good.
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Searching the e-text reveals that the phrase "the best b
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Jeremy
If you only read one 1162-page book this year... read this one. Wow. Having just finished this, it's hard to say which achievement is more monumental: Robert Moses's commandeering of New York's byzantime infrastructure to serve his own ambitious vision--the book makes an open-and-shut case for Moses, whom many have never heard of and never served in public elected office, being the most important and powerful man in the history of New York--or Robert Caro's ability to write a definitive biograph ...more
Aaron Million
Monumental work by Robert Caro - now more widely known for his excellent (and still ongoing) series of biographies on Lyndon Johnson. But this book launched his career, and reading it allows one to see why. Exhaustively researched, Caro leaves no stone unturned in his dual biography of Moses and New York City from the 1920s-1960s. As he has done with the LBJ books, Caro interviewed everyone that he could find who was remotely affiliated with, or affected by, Moses in any way. The result is a mas ...more
Anne
Holy mother of all that is holy. If you've got any attachment to New York, any interest in city planning, and any stamina whatsoever, RUN (do not walk) to get your own copy and read, read, read!!!
Jeff Joseph
WOW, WOW, OH MY GOD, This is one of those books that has you calling everyone you know telling them how they must read this book. Its absolutely mind boggling,facinating, amazing and really quite scary what this evil genius accomplished. Truth is SO much stranger than fiction! This is one of those books where your a different person when you finish the book then when you start(,and thats not due to the time factor involved in reading this big ass sucker)

For many years Ive been noticing this su
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Josh
Finally finished with this ridiculously long but incredible book about urban power and politics. It's terrifically thorough despite omitting several stories about the late years in Moses' career (presumably because of simple length considerations, and the recency of those events at the date of publication). So even at 1162 pages, I actually wouldn't have minded it being longer. Of course the subject and the story are so thoroughly compelling. Robert Moses did some amazing and amazingly terrible ...more
Mark
Long before Robert Caro, a former Newsday reporter, began his seemingly endless series of Lyndon Johnson biographies (last volume is in production now), he wrote this absolutely brilliant portrait of Robert Moses. I knew very little about the man before reading it. Afterwards, I understood not only the deep extent of his political power in New York, but the fact that he was responsible for many of the city's major parks, bridges and the infamous Cross-Bronx Expressway. A man driven by ego and th ...more
Mjackman
Bob Caro has a readable way of drawing you into Moses' life story, and shows Moses' fascinating transformation from reformer to ramp-builder. I was unaware that progressives actually *embraced* the automobile and big plans to clear "slums" back in the "good old days." I guess lots of reformers came up saying, "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." (An apt epitaph for Moses.)
Max
The ultimate in investigative reporting - a history so well written, so thorough, so deep and with so many takeaways that it is beyond thought provoking. It changes the way you perceive the world. Caro shows how money, politics and power work behind the scenes to determine events in ways we ordinarily never see. He meticulously details a half century of greed and ambition ever evolving to control government from one generation to the next, from one set of power brokers to the next.

We learn how
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Chris
An historic tragedy of a life.

As a work of journalism it easily tops any such work I’d read before. Truly monumental. I spent the better half of a decade working as a print journalist, and I’m in awe of what Caro managed to pull off here — the task seems superhuman. (I caught only one typo, on p. 948, out of nearly 1,200 pages (excluding the notes)). But the relevance of Caro’s success applies to my general human being as much as, or more than, the former journalist in me: I find myself wanting
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Kevin
Eight stars. Should be mandatory reading for anyone who lives in New York City.
Dkovlak
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christopher
Masterful, of course. Like his subsequent (ongoing) LBJ biography, and its window into the devolution of party politics, the rise of the welfare state, and the evolution of race relations in the South and the country, The Power Broker is not so much a biography of Moses as a way of understanding New York City and its suburbs from 1910-1970. And, as per usual, each of the over 1100 pages are packed with a level of detail that seems incompatible with Caro doing anything but writing this book for h ...more
Chris Haak
At 1,162 pages, this was most certainly the longest, heaviest book I have ever read. Actually, I didn't read every word, because I listened to about half of the book on Audible while driving just so I could get through the thing in two weeks.

It's a fascinating story about the rise, and subsequent 40+ years of dominance of Robert Moses in New York state/city politics, and finally his fall from power in the 1960s. The amount of power that he had at one point was remarkable - FDR tried to fire him,
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Nicola
The man who built countless parks, state-of-the-art highways and brought the United Nations to New York City, was also an arrogant, racist, power-hungry jerk who spent countless millions of taxpayer dollars on projects that enriched his allies, destroyed close-knit neighborhoods and starved public transit. Robert Moses's fingerprints are on almost every element of modern New York, both good and bad. The Power Broker is both a fascinating and infuriating read.

I physically had to saw this 1,200-p
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Matt
I am neither an urban planner, nor a New Yorker. With that cleared up, I can attempt to review this epic biography by Robert A. Caro, which has garnered a great deal of hype over the past 40 years. Caro takes the entire life of this man and puts it out for review, letting nothing escape his descriptive powers (though the book is a mere 1200 of the original 3000 pages Caro prepared). The book is so thorough and complex that the reader must digest a great deal of information to move through the se ...more
Nemo
This was a very hard book to grade, I believe it was one of the best books I have ever read, I would with little consideration put it in my top 10 books of all time.
Both the writing stile and the in-depth research are what I'd like to see in a biography, especially considering the circumstances under which it was written, and the fact that two thirds if the book were cut for publication.Here I must confess that I am not an expert where biographies are concerned as is evident from my list of book
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Dan
This is a remarkable book, the type of book that I imagine myself recommending to friends 10-15 years from now as frequently as if it were a current bestseller. (It took me a full month to read.) The breadth of Caro's research is simply stunning; I have seen comparisons between Caro's epic histories and Gibbon's work in the 18th century, and they hold up.

I do wish I could give 4.5 stars to this book. I had two complaints--one stylistic and one substantive.

Stylistic - I wish Caro would editoriali
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Jose-rodrigo Hernandez
Apr 08, 2012 Jose-rodrigo Hernandez rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: new york history buffs, urban planners, politicians
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Why is it not available on Kindle 8 343 May 30, 2014 07:40AM  
New York Exhibits 1 35 Mar 28, 2007 03:40PM  
  • Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City
  • Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
  • The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects
  • The Works: Anatomy of a City
  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities
  • George F. Kennan: An American Life
  • Samuel Johnson
  • The High Cost of Free Parking
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City
  • Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
  • Huey Long
  • What It Takes: The Way to the White House
  • Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department
  • Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West
  • Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States
  • The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
  • Great Streets
  • Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Hap pier
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He's the author of The Power Broker (1974), for which he won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize. It's a biography of Robert Moses, an urban planner and leading builder of New York City. President Obama said that he read the biography when he was 22 years old and that the book "mesmerized" him. Obama said, "I'm sure it helped to shape how I think about politics."
Caro has also written four biographies on Lyndo
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More about Robert A. Caro...
Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #3) The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #1) Means of Ascent (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #2) The Passage of Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #4) Robert A. Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson Set: The Path to Power; Means of Ascent; Master of the Senate; The Passage of Power

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“Hospitality has always been a potent political weapon. Moses used it like a master. Coupled with his overpowering personality, a buffet often did as much for a proposal as a bribe.” 0 likes
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