Caro’s The Power Broker

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

I mean, how do you write a review of a work of genius?

Who cares what I think about perhaps the greatest work of nonfiction in the last fifty years?

If you care about New York, or governance, or how to avoid turning into a really bad person, you need to read this. That’s pretty much it. But in addition, here are some personal notes:

  • I was shocked at how readable it is. Yes, the book is massive, and exhaustively researched, but Caro is such a good writer that the pages fly by. I’m reading about zoning fights in the Bronx and I am riveted.  
  • The move from reformer to monster is one many people with large ambitions have tread. Few as starkly, or with as much damage in their wake, as Moses, but the allure is certainly there. Its easy to think you’re fighting the last war, that what you thought was right in 1920 is still right in 1950. We all need to resist that.
  • Moses died thinking he had saved New York when what he had done was almost kill it. That yes, he had to break a few eggs, but at least he was willing to do it while other sat on the sidelines and complained. I’ll be honest that I myself have little time for those who sit in the stands, but buying your own mythology is poisonous. It has to be avoided.

Recommended. (but you knew that)

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