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The Power Broker Audiobook

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

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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

4.7 (1226 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Plymouth, MN USA 08-10-17
    Amazon Customer Plymouth, MN USA 08-10-17

    wscotk

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    "Robert Moses and the fall of NY"

    Very detailed and interesting story about a man and his lasting effect on the city of NY.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William B. Seely Jr 07-17-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Amazing Research, Great Story, Needed More Editing"

    Robert Caro can't be faulted for his scholarship, and few lives have stories as big and dramatic as Robert Moses'. However, facts and anecdotes are repeated multiple times, and Cari's stylistic flourishes frequently wax purple. The editor must've decided not to read the whole thing, because if they had the book would have been cut to be much shorter and more streamlined.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Turner 07-02-17 Member Since 2017
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    "great book.
    "

    great book. well worth the money spent. many lessons to be learned. f I v e stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    07-01-17
    07-01-17
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    "Fascinating life story"

    Hard to imagine a more interesting non fiction book. This is a must listen for anyone interested in building, politics, New York, or American history of the 20th century. I've listened to this audio book several times now still great every time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nat Zorach Detroit, MI 06-29-17
    Nat Zorach Detroit, MI 06-29-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great narration, and a truly incredible story"

    Robert Caro's epic biography, chronicling The Life and Times of America's greatest probably most problematic city planner and builder, reads like a novel-- building on hundreds of interviews, historical documents, and balance sheets, Caro tells the tale of a city that squandered unspeakable sums of money based on the direction, more or less, of one man in his quest for power, and of the people he roped into his Empire.

    Covering everything from transportation planning to slum clearance to the origins of Robert Moses in the Long Island Parks Commission and his fall from grace as an early idealist and reformer in the 1920s, Caro takes us on a three quarters of a century tour of American urbanism, municipal governance, and one man's life-- that makes you feel like you're watching a film rather than reading a book.

    Robertson Dean's narration is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Rockwell 06-18-17 Member Since 2015

    djmarkrockwell

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    "A window to power"

    The Power Broker is a deeply researched and brilliantly written book about Robert Moses' road to power and the compromises of principle he made along the way. Instructive and cautionary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fritz the Cat Toronto 06-06-17
    Fritz the Cat Toronto 06-06-17
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    "Power Corrupts, no matter who it is."
    If you could sum up The Power Broker in three words, what would they be?

    Even Heroes can get corrupt.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The intrigue, the strategy behind the scenes, the need to wait 4 decades to have a more powerful, wealthy politician usurp the untouchable self-appointed dictator Robert Moses. What started as heroic, intelligent and altruistic actions by a smart do-gooder who "made a difference", morphed into insensitive, massively destructive, dismissive dictatorship that was unstoppable - only until Rockefeller could check-mate Moses . I highly recommend this to any one - especially the green earth persons and political junkies.


    What about Robertson Dean’s performance did you like?

    Voice quality was excellent and seamless. i enjoyed the voice impersionations of


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    no laugh no cry. I was not surprized by the details. I see the corruption every day in politics that affects everyone's daily lives.


    Any additional comments?

    A cautionary tale to citizens that yearn for a "savior" to solve big, corrupt or unsolved problems due to inaction by elected persons. be careful what you ask for. Have checks and balances.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan in DC 05-23-17
    Dan in DC 05-23-17
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    "A Brilliant Analysis of Power and its Corruptions"

    The Power Broker is justly regarded as one of the greatest non-fiction books ever written.
    Even Robert A. Caro's magisterial multi-volumes on Lyndon Johnson failed to prepare me for his masterwork on Robert Moses. The Power Broker is an incomparable dissection of power. Not just the power to build bridges and parks, but the power to deny whole groups of Americans access to those parks. Caro shows through exhaustive research how one man was able to define New York City and state, both for good and then increasingly for ill. It's a book that makes the reader thrill to Moses' vision of a network of state and city parks, and recoil at the man's racism in limiting access to those parks predominately to whites. How he did so was ingenious and utterly evil.
    Robertson Dean did a stellar job of narrating The Power Broker. He brings to life the characters who run through this tome from Al Smith to Nelson Rockefeller.
    Caro and Dean left me wanting more after 66 hours. I have no higher praise.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph 05-13-17
    Joseph 05-13-17 Member Since 2006
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    "great book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I really enjoyed this book. I have read all his books and this one was great


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mosses


    Which character – as performed by Robertson Dean – was your favorite?

    Mosses


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

    Mosses


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    F. Elizabeth Hauser 04-26-17 Member Since 2015
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    "What a surprise!"

    I had no clue who this man, Robert Moses, was or any idea what he'd done. A fascinating story! Well researched, well written and well narrated !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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