Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Essential New York History

The Power Broker is a must-read for anyone interested in New York City history. While I was reading it, I carried the book everywhere so I could read it every chance I could. Robert Moses was a fascinating person. He had so much energy and accomplished so much. Unfo...
The Power Broker is a must-read for anyone interested in New York City history. While I was reading it, I carried the book everywhere so I could read it every chance I could. Robert Moses was a fascinating person. He had so much energy and accomplished so much. Unfortunately, his vision of New York was car-centric. If only he had used his energy on Mass Transit projects instead. The author did a great job describing the changes in New York from the 1920's to the 1970's.

posted by JudyHope on October 15, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Too much

The book is too vindictive, too angry, on two fronts: the subject matter himself and his treatment by the author. I unfortunately am like many people, not willing to endure an avalanche of angry news. For example: Robert Moses stole the glory of the Niagara State Park...
The book is too vindictive, too angry, on two fronts: the subject matter himself and his treatment by the author. I unfortunately am like many people, not willing to endure an avalanche of angry news. For example: Robert Moses stole the glory of the Niagara State Park. He had the plaques with the founder¿s name removed, and had plaques with his own name put in. It is so sickening, so low, and so depressing, that I unfortunately stopped reading. Furthermore, the author is on a mission to destroy this despicable person, which, it too, is sickening. In some books, there is a turning point that stops me reading further. I did not have the stomach to read further about the ignominy of Robert Moses, or his line by line, page by page dragging through the mud. No doubt he was a great builder. I hope for the sake of those who continue reading that the author weighs Robert Moses¿ achievements with his iniquities, and makes them feel slightly better than the irate, bitter reader that I became. The author was simply too vindictive and resentful for my liking, and the subject too poisonous. Even Stalin, about who I was reading simultaneously, did not come across as such a ghastly person. And will someone please correct ¿insure¿ to read ¿ensure¿ in the next edition?

posted by Anonymous on January 18, 2007

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  • Posted October 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Essential New York History

    The Power Broker is a must-read for anyone interested in New York City history. While I was reading it, I carried the book everywhere so I could read it every chance I could. Robert Moses was a fascinating person. He had so much energy and accomplished so much. Unfortunately, his vision of New York was car-centric. If only he had used his energy on Mass Transit projects instead. The author did a great job describing the changes in New York from the 1920's to the 1970's.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    Too much

    The book is too vindictive, too angry, on two fronts: the subject matter himself and his treatment by the author. I unfortunately am like many people, not willing to endure an avalanche of angry news. For example: Robert Moses stole the glory of the Niagara State Park. He had the plaques with the founder¿s name removed, and had plaques with his own name put in. It is so sickening, so low, and so depressing, that I unfortunately stopped reading. Furthermore, the author is on a mission to destroy this despicable person, which, it too, is sickening. In some books, there is a turning point that stops me reading further. I did not have the stomach to read further about the ignominy of Robert Moses, or his line by line, page by page dragging through the mud. No doubt he was a great builder. I hope for the sake of those who continue reading that the author weighs Robert Moses¿ achievements with his iniquities, and makes them feel slightly better than the irate, bitter reader that I became. The author was simply too vindictive and resentful for my liking, and the subject too poisonous. Even Stalin, about who I was reading simultaneously, did not come across as such a ghastly person. And will someone please correct ¿insure¿ to read ¿ensure¿ in the next edition?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 1, 2014

    A must read for all seeking to understand public service. A def

    A must read for all seeking to understand public service.

    A definite must read for urbanites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Highest Recommendation - incredibly comprehensive and fascinating

    This may be the best non-fiction book I've ever read. Caro is an exacting researcher and excellent writer. The combination of his talents and the details of Robert Moses' life make for fascinating reading. After finishing The Power Broker, I'm chomping at the bit to read Caro's volumes on LBJ.

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  • Posted June 6, 2012

    Best book I ever read, and an absolute MUST for anyone with any

    Best book I ever read, and an absolute MUST for anyone with any connection to New York City. Read it and WEEP, WEEP, WEEP for the permanent destruction of your city caused by Robert Moses.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    Robert Caro's addiction to his subject matter makes incredibly c

    Robert Caro's addiction to his subject matter makes incredibly compelling reading! I used to live in New York and was always struck by Robert Moses' footprint on that great place. This book is simple awesome! (As are his LBJ books - can't wait to read the fourth volume!)

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  • Posted August 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A wonderful book

    This writer really sets a high standard for writing and scholarshiop. I recently reread it and found it just as good as I remembered it. If you're interested in history and new york city you are bound to enjoy it.

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  • Posted March 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What are you waiting for?

    I am absolutely baffled whenever I meet a New Yorker who hasn't read this book. You will never look at the neighborhood that you live in, the roads that you drive on, the parks that you visit, or New York as a whole the same way ever again. An entertaining and revealing look at the fascinating, and often very disturbing, stories that lie beneath every inch of this great state.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    Great true story

    Well researched and exciting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2006

    A must read book for all new yorkers

    I have to give credit to the author. A monumental task. A must read book for all new yorkers. For those who are easily affended be cautious. Overall Robert Moses has my respect for the contributions he made to New York City but he gets two thumbs down for handling people. Thanks Robert Caro.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2004

    Power, talent, no conscience

    After reading this book you might well wonder how this arrogant public servant escaped prison. You might want to petition to have every park and roadway that is named after him renamed! On the other hand Robert Caro makes the case for how and why Robert Moses was able to do what he did extremely understandable, and even, inevitable to a point. In the early years, as Caro rightly points out, Robert Moses' vision helped the city out of its doldrums of the Great Depression. He offered hope and a future when the present seemed so doubtful. At what point did Moses shift from a true visionary to a ruthless, megalomaniacal autocrat? To a neighborhood-squashing tyrant without conscience? There is no one event or series of events to explain this change, and Caro wisely avoids claiming there is. That is not his concern, anyway. What Caro does map out are the paths of destruction that Moses gouged through the metropolitan area. The interviews and extended quotations are very revealing, almost chilling. Moses's sang froid about New Yorkers--and how he cultivated it for half a century--defies reason. Yet this book, 'The Power Broker' is as close to an understanding of Robert Moses as we'll ever get.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2003

    Inftrastructural visionary

    Caro offers for the reader the political know-how of one of New York's biggest political figures. Mose's visions romanticize the developement of the NYC/Long Island region in a pre-computer age version of SIM city.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2001

    A Must-Read for Anyone Stuck in Traffic

    'The Power Broker' details New Yorker Robert Moses' slow rise to power as an idealistic Wilsonian Democrat fighting the entrenched power of corrupt Tammany Hall politics, his novel approach to parks planning (he invented the 'parkway,' for example), his massive public works (among them the Triborough Bridge and all of New York City's expressways), and his inevitable decline and fall after he refused to relinquish power in old age. As time wore on Moses became less and less the man of the people and more and more the man of the system of his own creation, and that system was the toll-gathering mechanism of New York's bridges and tunnels. He invented that peculiar institution, the 'authority' (as in Port 'Authority' or Tennessee Valley 'Authority') that is neither wholly governmental nor wholly private, and so lacks the restraints of either; Moses' cash cows kept him in power and gave him an antidemocratic arrogance that is truly breathtaking and, one hopes, will never be duplicated. Caro shows us the book's central irony--Moses came to power as an anti-Tammany reformer, then gradually became a stone-cold status quo icon who couldn't be budged. Ever wonder why New York City's expressways are so confusingly laid out? Could it have something to do with the fact that Moses had a Packard and chauffeur at his beck-and-call and never worried about driving? In the forties and fifties cities across the USA rushed to emulate New York (big city--big problems--big solutions). Now cities all over America are rushing to supplement or undo Moses' work, tearing down high-rise public housing in favor of garden apartments, refusing to widen the freeways knowing they'll just clog up again (sometimes they'll sell concession rights to private tollways, but those tollways are definitely not nickle-and-dime affairs), and of course beefing up commuter train and light-rail service. When Moses started ripping out streetcar lines in the late 1940s, he called it 'progress'. Since when is destroying your transportation infrastructure a sign of progress? This is an extremely long book and, though riveting, extremely 'wonky' in terms of detail. Politicos will love following the passage of laws in Albany and social-history buffs will be amused at Moses' choice of shirts (Brooks Bros.' until his fastidious boss gave him a whole box of Sulka). In the 1960s, the news that one track of a double-track railroad could carry more people than an eight-lane freeway was just an amusing point of trivia; now it's cause for revolt as hapless commuters beat their steering wheels in frustration, fix their faces, shave, change radio stations, imagine non-existent rapid transit lines running down the center median. When bureaucrats give us what they want us to have, not what we want to have, dislocations inevitably result. Read this fascinating book and find out how New York City and the surrounding area regrettably missed out on the opportunity to make itself a much more rational, orderly, livable place during the 20th Century.

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    Posted February 13, 2014

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