The Power Broker

1,162. That’s the number of pages, not counting any end material, in the copy of The Power Broker that I read. Probably the longest book I’ve read in my life. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would finish this when I set out to read it in January, but here we are less than three months from the day I started and I’m done.

I read this book, nothing more; no notes, no underling, no writing in the margins. It’s not that those are bad things to do, it’s more that I just wanted to read it and enjoy it and see where it took me without necessarily thinking about every single part. I had no idea when I started exactly what I would think of this book, this book that is talked about by so many; it’s a daunting thing to pick up. But I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot.

I knew this book was about power and how one attains it and keeps it, the title and interviews with Caro make that clear, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much I’d change the way I see power. I’m not, by my nature, really interested in power. I’ve never managed people in a job and I’ve always had very little interest in moving up the ladder in the corporate world. In the past I’ve seen how power changes people to some extent, but this book really showed me how much power motivates many people. I started to see that motivation all around me in small and large ways; people striving for power in whatever way they can get it.

Robert Caro is a great writer and ends a chapter better than almost anyone I’ve ever read. His writing is why I was able to finish this book in a relatively short amount of time, I always wanted to keep going and see where things were going to go. Plus, by the time I was at the half way point I was really interested in how in the world Moses was going to lose power, what would take him down.

I don’t feel the need to say a lot more about this book, there are a ton of people writing and talking about it and if you want to get a recap of it, the 99% Invisible Podcast series is a great way to do so. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time. Not only did one man do so much to shape and change a major city, New York City, as well as other parts of New York state, but he did so by becoming completely nefarious in his dealings. He started out young and idealistic and it didn’t take long for all of that to go out the window. Personality and his nature had a lot to do with it, but I can’t help but wonder about aging, culture, the nature of power making you want more power, and so much more. I’m also now intrigued by the entire concept of power and how it motivates people and want to read more. I gotta admit it, I’m consdering starting Caro’s series on Lyndon Johnson.