what i'm reading: the power broker by robert caro

I'm going to make this a recurrent entry. I love to talk about books. If everyone weren't so shy about leaving comments, emailing me instead, we could discuss books together!

So the first What I'm Reading entry is The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert Caro. This book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 1975, is always talked about in the most superlative terms. People just do cartwheels over it, calling it one of the greatest books ever written about New York City, power and politics, and one of the great biographies of all time.

I am here to tell you that the praise is completely deserved. It is absolutely masterful. Anyone who is interested in cities or New York City history - for that matter, in American history - would love it. And Robert Moses himself! If he hadn't lived, no one could have invented him: he simply would have been too incredible for fiction. Moses, an evil genius if ever there was one, was surely one of the most influential Americans of the 20th Century, though few non-historians might name him on a list.

This morning in a particularly dramatic bit, my great hero Eleanor Roosevelt made an appearance. She helped save the day. :)

Pain-Free Reading. As a boring aside, I am reading The Power Broker in a strange form. As part of a birthday present a few years ago, Allan bought me a beautiful hard-cover edition that he found used somewhere. It has drawings of maps inside, just the kind of thing I love. (Great gift!) Like most New Yorkers, I do some of my best reading on the subway, and there's no way I would carry that book around in my backpack. I want it to stay in pristine condition on the shelf. Plus I have arthritis in my shoulder. I've already done it enough damage reading Irish history, "the King books" and Big Trouble. The Power Broker is more than 1200 pages. That's a lot of advil.

The solution: I bought another, paperback edition, and I separate it into sections, held together with a binder clip. I throw a section in my backpack, and I'm good to go. 20, 30 pages at a time is plenty to read (it's extremely dense) and my shoulder doesn't suffer. It's well worth the price of a second copy.

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