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The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York | [Robert A. Caro]

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

Robert Caro's monumental book makes public what few outsiders have known: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of our time in the City and in the State of New York. And in telling the Moses story, Caro both opens up to an unprecedented degree the way in which politics really happens - the way things really get done in America's City Halls and Statehouses - and brings to light a bonanza of vital new information.
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Publisher's Summary

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 outsiders have known: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of our time in the City and in the State of New York. And in telling the Moses story, Caro both opens up to an unprecedented degree the way in which politics really happens - the way things really get done in America's City Halls and Statehouses - and brings to light a bonanza of vital new information about such national figures as Alfred E. Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt (and the genesis of their blood feud), and about Fiorello La Guardia, John V. Lindsay, and Nelson Rockefeller.

But The Power Broker is first and foremost a brilliant multidimensional portrait of a man - an extraordinary man who, denied power within the normal framework of the democratic process, stepped outside that framework to grasp power sufficient to shape a great city and to hold sway over the very texture of millions of lives. We see how Moses began: the handsome, intellectual young heir to the world of Our Crowd, an idealist. How, rebuffed by the entrenched political establishment, he fought for the power to accomplish his ideals. How he first created a miraculous flowering of parks and parkways, playlands and beaches - and then ultimately brought down on the city the smog-choked aridity of our urban landscape, the endless miles of (never sufficient) highway, the hopeless sprawl of Long Island, the massive failures of public housing, and countless other barriers to humane living. How, inevitably, the accumulation of power became an end in itself.

Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He was held in fear - his dossiers could disgorge the dark secret of anyone who opposed him. He was, he claimed, above politics, above deals; and through decade after decade, the newspapers and the public believed.

Meanwhile, he was developing his public authorities into a fourth branch of government known as "Triborough" - a government whose records were closed to the public, whose policies and plans were decided not by voters or elected officials but solely by Moses - an immense economic force directing pressure on labor unions, on banks, on all the city's political and economic institutions, and on the press, and on the Church. He doled out millions of dollars' worth of legal fees, insurance commissions, lucrative contracts on the basis of who could best pay him back in the only coin he coveted: power. He dominated the politics and politicians of his time - without ever having been elected to any office. He was, in essence, above our democratic system.

Robert Moses held power in the state for 44 years, through the governorships of Smith, Roosevelt, Lehman, Dewey, Harriman, and Rockefeller, and in the city for 34 years, through the mayoralties of La Guardia, O'Dwyer, Impellitteri, Wagner, and Lindsay. He personally conceived and carried through public works costing 27 billion dollars - he was undoubtedly America's greatest builder.

This is how he built and dominated New York - before, finally, he was stripped of his reputation (by the press) and of his power (by Nelson Rockefeller). But his work, and his will, had been done.

©1975 Robert A. Caro (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (346 )
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4.6 (286 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Donald Logan 07-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent History of New York (City)"

    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."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 07-02-13
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 07-02-13 Member Since 2011

    Roy-in-Boise

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    "A Poli-Sci Classic"

    Moses may have been one of the most powerful unelected politicians in American history. His career transcended generations of administrations on the local, state and federal level plus he facilitated the building of the UN Headquarters in NYC. Robert Caro provides a meticulous chronically of the life and times of a man who's influence not only changed the face of NY but of a nation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baomin 04-03-13
    Baomin 04-03-13
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    "One of the greatest biography of all times"
    Would you listen to The Power Broker again? Why?

    Absolutely! great writing and great narration.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Power Broker?

    Robert Moses from an idealist to a power monger.


    What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He brought life to the characters in the book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arnold toronto, ON, Canada 04-01-13
    Arnold toronto, ON, Canada 04-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Autobiography of Robert Moses and New York City"

    Great man doesn't mean nice man. When I finished this book (66 hours but never boring) I was left with the impression he was like Lance Armstrong, hugely driven and talented but a sociopath if you get in his way. One of those people you'd rather read about than meet. He did remake the face of New York in many ways and he never held office. Makes you wonder how the raw politics work in your own city.

    The history was fascinating as well. You'll learn about everyone from Al Smith up to Nelson Rockefeller and everyone in between. Plus how he won a feud with Roosevelt when he was President.It's about Tammany politics and the history of New York from the 1890's up to the 1970s. The reader had a nice even voice too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter United States 03-11-13
    Peter United States 03-11-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Truely A work of art"
    Would you listen to The Power Broker again? Why?

    with out a doubt.- Caro is at his peak in this intese study of a complex man who live only for power. He is both good and evil


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    the complexity of moses


    What does Robertson Dean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He heeps you interested


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The central park incident


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MN Topsham, ME, United States 03-04-13
    MN Topsham, ME, United States 03-04-13
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    "An Incredible Work of History"
    What did you love best about The Power Broker?

    To call this a work of history does not do the author justice. The book will also be of interest to students of political science, urban planning, law and legislative drafting, finance and engineering. While the length of the book may be daunting, I found myself caught up in drama and the tragedy of the story. "The Power Broker" equals if not surpasses Caro's multiple volume biography of Lyndon Johnson-high praise indeed.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    arthur 01-07-13
    arthur 01-07-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
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    "super"
    Would you listen to The Power Broker again? Why?

    Good story of the history of New York and Robert Moses


    What about Robertson Dean’s performance did you like?

    voice...engagement of detail


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    the power of the ability to create


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia 01-02-13
    Patricia 01-02-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "New York Politics"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a really good book for those who are interested in New York, not just New York politics.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The lead character Robert Moses, of course, was the star of the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joseph Iowa City, IA, United States 09-04-12
    joseph Iowa City, IA, United States 09-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Great, Great, Great book."

    A unique book. One of those are books that subtly alters your perception of the world around you. I only encounter a book like this once every five or six years. I wish I knew more books like this. A great legal, economic, civil planning, political, municipal history of New York City.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clon Atlanta, GA, United States 07-21-13
    Clon Atlanta, GA, United States 07-21-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Really Boring"
    Would you try another book from Robert A. Caro and/or Robertson Dean?

    NO


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not one of theses books


    Would you be willing to try another one of Robertson Dean’s performances?

    No


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, Listen to this if you need a nap!


    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to over 800 books and this is my first review. This is the worst book I have tried. I have made it about 8 hrs in and had to quit.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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