The Power Broker

Fri May 18 2012

So there was a lot of press about Robert Caro’s latest installment of his Lyndon Johnson biography. I haven’t read the first three volumes of it. I’m saving them for when I run out of things to read.


But I’ve been very curious for a long time about the book that made Caro famous: his biography of Robert Moses.

It’s impossible to spend any amount of time in New York City without your local guide mentioning Robert Moses. “Robert Moses created the parkways,” they’ll say. Or, “Robert Moses destroyed entire neighborhoods to build the BQE.” (At this point you say “Tut, tut,” because you’re not sure what a BQE is.) “Robert Moses built the pyramids! Robert Moses brought down the Ten Commandments!”

I’m pretty sure that the last two are about a different Moses.

I like the New York parkways. They’re pretty and picturesque. They’re what I imagine Storrow Drive should look like if only someone with power had built it. So I thought I’d give The Power Broker a try.

Oh. My. God.

Have you seen the size of this thing? I mean look at it! It’s over 1300 pages long. That is more that the first three Harry Potter books put together. Which I also haven’t read.

I wish to marvel at Mose’s deft handling of power. I long to read about the legal structure of the Triborough Bridge Commission.

But there are some problems:

  • the book is huge
  • it has a lot pages
  • I can only check it out for three weeks

So I decided to return the book to the library. But just as soon as it’s available as an eBook, I’ll pick it back up.