The power broker: Robert Moses and the fall of New York
One of the most acclaimed books of our time, winner of both the Pulitzer and the Francis Parkman prizes, The Power Broker tells the hidden story behind the shaping (and mis-shaping) of twentieth-century New York (city and state) and makes public what few have known: that Robert Moses was, for almost half a century, the single most powerful man of our time in New York, the shaper not only of the city's politics but of its physical structure and the problems of urban decline that plague us today.
In revealing how Moses did it--how he developed his public authorities into a political machine that was virtually a fourth branch of government, one that could bring to their knees Governors and Mayors (from La Guardia to Lindsay) by mobilizing banks, contractors, labor unions, insurance firms, even the press and the Church, into an irresistible economic force--Robert Caro reveals how power works in all the cities of the United States. Moses built an empire and lived like an emperor. He personally conceived and completed public works costing 27 billion dollars--the greatest builder America (and probably the world) has ever known. Without ever having been elected to office, he dominated the men who were--even his most bitter enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, could not control him--until he finally encountered, in Nelson Rockefeller, the only man whose power (and ruthlessness in wielding it) equalled his own.
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Caro's writing is very detailed and visually discriptive. He clearly both admires and looks down on Moses (both for good reason in my opinion). Moses himself was clearly one of a kind. As I sit in traffic around NYC I often now wonder what the city would be like today had he gone into a different line of work. I remember the details of this book more like a 12-part Ken Burns documentry than a typical bio.
Review: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New YorkUser Review - Katherine - Goodreads
Now that's what I call a biography. Comparisons to Tacitus are well-deserved; this is one of the books that I'll be referencing for the rest of my life when thinking about cities, power, and how people manage their civic lives. Read full review
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