The Power Broker cover

The Power BrokerRobert Moses and the Fall of New York

by Robert A. Caro

published in 

first published in 1975


ⓧ Currently checked out

1344 pages

published by Random House Audio

published in New York, NY

owned in Audiobook format

I've been listening to this book on Audible intermittently for over a year. The narration of Robertson Dean is such a soothing and nostalgic voice: he sounds like a city beat investigative reporter laying everything out in an exhausted and exhaustive report. This is a marathon of an audiobook but honestly I don't think I would have been up for the marathon of reading the physical book anyway.

Some of the themes that Caro sets out in this text are the manipulation of public sentiment and the media—the New York Times is regularly criticized in his recounting of history for failing to grasp the significance of the bureaucratic power grabs that were occurring throughout Moses' long career. He also often highlights times when critics of Moses also praised him for his ability to get things completed and built, even if those things were evil or objectionable. I find this an interesting habit throughout the work, because I see the whole biography of Moses' work as struggling to decide whether Moses was a great man or not. It will spend considerable time tearing down Moses' ethical compass, highlight his utter misanthropy and racism, but it does more work than most texts to place the myth of him as a great, driven, nearly superhuman bureaucrat on solid ground.

Moses was not a great man. He was a deeply privileged, bullying man who understood the machine he operated in very well. His ability to "get things done" does not counterbalance his misanthropy and malevolence.


Caro, Robert A.. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York, NY: Random House Audio, 2011. Audiobook.

Other content that links to this