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The Power Broker: Volume 3 of 3: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York: Volume 3

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  8,199 Ratings  ·  956 Reviews
For the sheer magnitude, depth and authority of its revelations, The Power Broker stands alone---a huge and galvanizing biography revealing not only the virtually unknown saga of one man's incredible accumulation of power, but the hidden story of the shaping (and mis-shaping) of New York through the past half-century.

Robert Caro's monumental book makes public what few outs
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Published May 17th 2011 by Random House Audio (first published September 16th 1974)
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Jessica City of Quartz by Mike Davis is an excellent book about the historical shaping of LA.
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Jessica
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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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Matt
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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
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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Brian
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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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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Roy Lotz
Many are concerned about the monuments of the West and the East—to know who built them. For my part, I should like to know who in those days did not build them—who were above such trifling.

—Henry David Thoreau

“Who’s Robert Moses?” I asked my brother, after he bought this book

To drive from my house to the city, you need to take the Saw Mill Parkway across the Henry Hudson Bridge onto the Henry Hudson Parkway. Those roads, and that bridge, were built under the direction of Robert Moses. If you hav
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BlackOxford
Before Trump There Was Moses

Want to understand the politics and the reasons why NYC is the way it is? Read it and weep.

Robert Moses was never elected to public office. Yet his power over public finance and social decision-making was greater than that of any elected official, including at times the President of the United States (His nemesis, however, was the president's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was also unelected to anything but just as crafty).

Moses created his power by creating the laws wh
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Christy
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moses was a horrifying example of the idea of "progress" gone stupid and taking advantage of a Manifest Destiny-like philosophy of urbanization. His tactics in NY and so many other cities severed people from each other with scalpel looking to exacerbate class divisions. So despicable that he deliberately build bridges too low to accommodate the city busses so that so the poor and especially the Blacks couldn't go out to the Long Island beaches. He advocated for a "White only" area of Stuyvesant, ...more
Nancy
Can a book be both endlessly enthralling and gratuitously tedious simultaneously? Apparently, it can.

They say that biographers identify with their subject, and Robert Caro was not untouched by the megalomania that drove Robert Moses. The worst problem was his tendency to belabor his points, as if his readers were slightly dim and couldn't be trusted to get a point the first time, or remember it. How many times should it be necessary to say that the West Side Highway would cut off New Yorkers' ac
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Nicholas Sparks
This biography of Robert Moses—the highly influential urban planner who shaped the modern city during the 20th century—was first published in 1975, during a period of prolonged urban decline, adding another layer of complexity for today’s reader.
Anne
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Charles Gonzalez
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have read some amazing books over the past 30 years. For a long time Neil Sheehan's "A Bright and Shining Lie" was my all time favorite because it grabbed me in a way that no other work had until then (1989). It unwrapped the Vietnam war in a way that had not been unwrapped for me until then, and Sheehan's story of his hero's personal struggles, his rise and fall is forever ingrained in me as a lesson in the interchange between man and war. Gibbons Rise and Fall, Thucydides, Halberstam's , "Th ...more
Susan O
Brilliant! I really don't know what to say about this book. It's monumental, brilliantly written and strangely enthralling. I would never have believed that a book about parks, highways, and bridges, many, many, of each, would be so interesting. Of course they all revolve around Robert Moses, who is fascinating and also despicable. He is however, an example of how to amass power, and how to use it, for better and for worse.

Caro is a brilliant writer. This is the 4th of his 5 published works tha
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Conor
It took me almost half of a year, but I did it--I finished "The Power Broker." In many ways, this book feels like the nonfiction "Infinite Jest," a rite of passage for all serious readers and a shibboleth of dilettante scholars of urban life such as myself. I feel accomplished!

Based on my reading history, it is not difficult to tell that I'm a bit of a mass transportation enthusiast. When I first moved to New York I lived on the Lower East Side, at the mercy of the unpredictable F and erstwhile
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Jay Oza
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 the power, it will go nowhere. 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 studi
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Tony
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-10-2009
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
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
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeremy
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
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
Max
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
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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Alex Strick van Linschoten
One million words. More.

The Power Broker is the kind of book you see in a bookshop, pick it up, put it back down again because its weight is a physical assault on your wrist.

It isn't available as a digital edition for Kindle, so you're stuck with lugging the physical copy around with you. I started this book in February, setting up a Beeminder goal to keep me on track. The pages are large and the type small, so even a goal of reading twenty pages a day took 30-45 minutes.

I persevered, despite so
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Jonathan
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Caro is the greatest written story teller of the last 100 years.

This book is well worth the 1161 page investment. I guarantee you will love this book.
Preston Kutney
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure you're asking yourself, why should I read 1100-some odd pages about a crafty parks commissioner who built a bunch of roads or something? Can I even think of 10 things more boring to read about than civil service standardization or public authority bond contracts?

Robert Moses was probably the most powerful non-elected public servant in US history, a man who had absolute control over construction projects in NYC for almost 20 years (and over projects that stood for at least 50 years) and
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Christopher Saunders
The Power Broker is Robert A. Caro's first book, and despite the brilliance of his Years of Lyndon Johnson series, it's still his best. Ostensibly a biography of Robert Moses, the building and public works commissioner of New York from the '20s through 1969, it's many things: a detailed account of urban planning and inner-city strife, a sweeping chronicle of New York politics and official wrangling, a study of the impact of indifferent government and careless bureaucrats on everyday lives. As wi ...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
Josh Friedlander
An astonishingly in-depth, erudite and comprehensive (fun fact: the author's senior thesis at Princeton was so long that the university decided to institute a length limit in future) portrait of a man who shaped New York City. Brilliant and haughty, Moses used his supple mind to gain power and implement his plans beyond the reach of public or political influence. Caro shows his subject's great strengths - a love of public service, political astuteness, and an incredible work ethic - as well as h ...more
Taylor Pearson
At the time The Power Broker came out in the 1970s, everyone agreed with Caro’s impression that Moses was “a mean son of a bitch” and responsible for the Fall of New York.

He was overtly classist and racist, building bridges unnecessarily low over his parkways to prevent buses, and the less wealthy people who rode them, from using his parkways.

At some points, Moses comes across as an alpha gorilla, taunting his superiority in another gorillas face, just to show he can.

He is responsible for the ab
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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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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...
“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.” 5 likes
“You can draw any kind of picture you want on a clean slate and indulge your every whim in the wilderness in laying out a New Delhi, Canberra, or Brasilia, but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis, you have to hack your way with a meat ax. (Robert Moses)” 0 likes
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