I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!
As an historian, Robert Caro is comprehensive to a fault. From this exhaustive biography of Robert Moses to his multi-volume encyclopedia of the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Caro has shown an aptitude for assembling historical detail. And even for writing it down in relatively accessible, popular prose.
But in my opinion, the real achievement of a great biographer is to sift through the welter of detail that make up the subject’s life, cull out the inconsequential minutiae, and distill the crucial material into an epiphany that illuminates the person’s life and explains the impact that it has had on ours.
Robert Caro is capable of such biographical alchemy when he wants to be. In the introduction to this book, he does a good job of summarizing who Moses was, why he was important, and what was, or is, the essential fraudulence that mars his otherwise monumental life’s work. But once you start into the body of the book, Caro’s compulsion for detail, his inability to exscind trivia, wear heavily upon the reader’s patience.
In the end, I believe that half the book could have been twice as compelling; If Caro had been willing to do the job of discriminating between fact and substance, and select the quintessence of Moses’ life from the quotidian episodes that make up every human life.
Anyone with a passing interest in politics, power, the development of modern day New York City, or just a great biography needs to listen to this book. Yes, it is long (66 hours), but that only means you get more bang for your buck.
A truly wonderful book to
It showed how Robert Moses obsessively gained power and welded it for decades while building much of modern New York. Do you think that if Robert Moses was alive now that it would have taken a decade to rebuild the World Trade Center?
How his absolute power corrupted him. No one should have this much influence. On the other hand, New York probably would not work nearly as well today if this tyrant hadn't built it so cohesively.
How to Bankrupt a City in 6 Easy Decades
Husband, Dad, Principal, Adjunct prof, RC Deacon, radio co-host, story teller, NYer, walker, & occasional sipper of fine whisk(e)y,
Great look at a NY icon, or is it megalomaniac? A MUST for folks interested in Politics - especially New York Politics!
Master of the Senate - Lyndon Johnson
Robert Moses' character transition from ambitious park expander, to seeking power for the sake of power.
Beautifully written and read! Great character build-up makes it read like a political thriller!
One word summarizes my experience: rich. This book covers so many aspects of not just Robert, but of New York history, American history, American politics, the mechanics of achievement, morals, public opinion, the human psyche, and of course transportation.
The reader finds himself drawn to Moses, then repelled by him; rooting for him, then anticipating his downfall; marveling at his unshakable faith in his own ability, then wishing for his detractors to put a stop to his bruising our city.
There are 30 minute passages in this book that read as completely life-like descriptions of life in the tenements, the general state of disrepair of New York's parks pre-Moses, his genius in scraping together, almost dollar by dollar, the financing for the Henry Hudson Highway, the inexorable destruction of a Bronx neighborhood, and more; passages you will bookmark and return to.
I cannot imagine a person who would not find this incredibly valuable. I certainly do.
I love how long and detailed it is. I felt like I lived this book more than read, or listened to it. If you believe that we create our own reality by what we give thought to, a powerful testament to how gripping this book is that after finishing it, I saw that the author is due to speak at my university in a couple of months.
A sense of drama and ease of narration. He makes the waves go deeper, and higher, than I have experienced in a long time.
The description of the lack of recreational facilities for the city dwellers, is very powerful. The reader knows that Moses will fix the picture, or dramatically improve it, but no mention is made of him for about 30 minutes, as the horrible reality pre-Moses, is described in vivid detail.
Parts of this book are very uplifting, as Moses was a man who, for a long time, did many good things for the city's poor. Other parts makes the reader cringe. Whatever the final verdict on Moses is, and it is a very negative one these days, I find it uplifting to dwell on the positives. There are many, and they are magnificent.
This book will make you interested in many subjects, so be ready to become a (more) voracious reader.
Wonderfully written history of a man who truly was a powerhouse. An excellent narration as well! To paraphrase the "great" man Moses, "You either do it my way AND take my highway."
This audiobook is one of the best ever. The narrator was simply wonderful. I listened at 1.5x playback speed, which for me was perfect.
There is simply nothing better than a great narrator reading a wonderful book to you!
Robert Caro is a master author.
This book should be required reading in college political science classes as a classic study of political power. Moses' life spanned decades during critical development of NYC. Moses was good and bad.
If you are a New Yorker or visit New York City often, this book is a must. And, if you just like a damn good story, this is it.
I purchased this for my husband because he has always been interested in history. He had just finished the book by the same author, Robert Caro, about Lyndon B Johnson....not someone he cared for. He found this very interesting also and thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Definitely would recommend this book.
Caro's The Power Broker, which traces the life of "Master Builder" Robert Moses, is a master class on the acquisition and use of political power in American politics. The subject's authoritarian approach to undertaking public works, and to (metaphorically and sometimes literally) bulldozing through opposition to get his way, resulted in the reshaping of New York City, Long Island, and became a road map for the development of major public works like the US interstate highway system as well.
Caro does a brilliant job not only of describing in full a man who would only tolerate hagiography and blood oath loyalty from those with whom he surrounded himself, but also, through in depth exploration of those affected by his public projects, we get to see the terrible human costs wrought by a man obsessed with progress that he could only measure in dollars and miles of concrete and steel.
An important book for anyone interested in US public policy in 2017 to read.
Robertson Dean does an excellent job of narrating the audio book, bringing subtle variety and humanity to his portrayal of the many characters in the biography. The book is a massive one -- more than 66 hours long -- and I found Dean's delivery at 1x speed, while resonant, a bit laconic, and would recommend listening at either 1.5x or 2x speed. The clarity of Dean's narration remains even at this faster pace.