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

51fonlierul-_sx328_bo1204203200_If you have driven through a highway, bridge, or tunnel in New York City, you have Robert Moses to thank for it; moreover, if you look at much of the current makeup of the city, it’s due to Moses, who held myriad titles throughout his forty-year career in the governments of New York City and New York State.  But a list of bridges, tunnels, and buildings does not even begin to scratch the surface of Robert Caro’s exhaustive biography of the life of the man who literally shaped the nation’s leading city.

Published in 1974 when New York City was descending into the nadir of its existence, The Power Broker is a thorough look at Robert Moses’ life and a treatise on the nature of power.  While definitely in the thick of New York City and State politics, Moses himself was a lifelong bureaucrat who found ways to influence several of the city’s mayors and the state’s governors, even if his relationships with many–among them, Fiorello LaGuardia, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller–was often adversarial.  Caro, whose research was extensively detailed, weaves a story of a man who went from an idealist to blinded by his own ego, his fall eventually coming because the visionary he once had been wielded too much power and influence for his own good.

I spent much of my life driving around the highways and parkways of Long Island, all of which have their origin stories with Moses and can be found within the book; in fact, I spent summers in college working at Robert Moses State Park.  But even though I feel I have a personal connection to Moses and The Power Broker, I’ll admit that this book was a feat of strength to read.  At a grand total of 1366 pages (if you count notes and the index), The Power Broker is not a leisurely read and could be the basis for its very own seminar or course.  But the accomplishment of finishing the book proved well worth it.

-Tom

You should read this book if …

  1. You have a serious interest in the history of New York State, New York City, and Long Island.
  2. You’ve read Gotham by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace (itself a tome) and want to continue a look at New York City history.
  3. You’re a fan of The Bowery Boys NYC History Podcast and want to learn more about Robert Moses.
  4. You’ve got an interest in politics and political history and want to see how theories of power (and the egos of the men who wield it) often play out in real life.

Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran by Elaine Sciolino

51eX21diw4L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Elaine Sciolino, a correspondent for Newsweek and The New York Times, was aboard the airplane that took Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Tehran in 1979. She has had more experience covering revolutionary Iran than any other American reporter, and was present for the revolution, the hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, the rise of President Khatami, the riots of 1999, and the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. Persian Mirrors looks at the public and private spaces of Iran, and goes into the politics, culture, religion, and society of Iran.

I originally picked this up because I wanted to get some more background on Iran before teaching Persepolis during a seminar course. Unfortunately, the seminar was canceled, but I decided to keep reading because the subject matter is so interesting. As Americans, I feel like we see people in the Middle East as the enemy, but this book explores why that is not necessarily true. True, we have been on opposing sides from time to time, but there is more to the story, and it is unfair to consider all “others” a terrorist. One must still read this book with a grain of salt since it is coming from someone who, while narrating her first-hand experiences, is not Iranian.

You should read this book if…

  1. you are interested in other cultures.
  2. you would like to learn more about Iran.
  3. you enjoyed reading Persepolis.
  4. you are willing to let your impressions and attitudes about the Iran be changed.

 

Episode 11: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Episode 11 Website CoverIt’s the eleventh episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if it’s worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we’re taking a look at Ella Minnow Pea, a novel of letters by Mark Dunn.

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella) or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

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The Serafina Series by Robert Beatty

S61uD+4Tts4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_tella here! I wanted to do a short post — probably all of my posts are going to be short, because, let’s be honest, we all have attention disorders and don’t want to read much, amIright???– yes, a short post about a series I have been reading called The Serafina Series written by Robert Beatty. I came upon this series while I was in a Barnes and Nobel in NYC and was intrigued by the cover and blurb about the book.

While I do recommend all three books that are published, I most recently finished Serafina and the Splintered Heart. The series takes place at and around the Biltmore Estate during the height of the Gilded Age. Among the majority of author-original characters, you will find yourself familiar with the Vanderbilts and others that were present during that time.

The series continues to be a fun read with dark turns and suspense. The genre is fantasy with historical aspects sprinkled in. The heroes – Serafina and Braeden – are twelve years old, but don’t let that fool you! The vocabulary throughout the novel and the decisions and actions of the characters speak to their wisdom. They also encounter fierce and unforgiving villains which darkens the tone of the novels.

You should read this book if you:

  1. Enjoy fantasy with some historical aspects
  2. Enjoy characters with a strong sense of right and wrong
  3. Enjoy characters that are devoted to family, friendship and loyalty
  4. Enjoy animals

ex animo,
Stella

Episode 10: Tangent Special 1. Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir

Episode10_Cover for WebsiteIt’s the tenth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if it’s worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we are taking a break from our usual look at literature for our first “Tangent Special,” which covers the genres of biography, autobiography, and memoir. We discuss what defines each genre and make recommendations.

You can listen here:

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella) or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

Episode 9: Eleanor & Park

Episode09_Cover for WebsiteIt’s the ninth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if it’s worth its place in the canon.

This time around, we look at Rainbow Rowell’s award-winning YA novel Eleanor & Park.

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to like our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella) or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com

If you’d like to learn more about Rainbow Rowell or Eleanor & Park, you can check out her website:  rainbowrowell.com

And here’s the intro song for the episode:  “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division

 

Eleanor & Park Cover

Episode 8: Persepolis, Book 1

Episode08_Cover for WebsiteIt’s the eighth episode of Required Reading With Tom and Stella! This podcast, which is hosted by Tom Panarese (Pop Culture Affidavit, In Country, Taking Flight) and Stella (Batgirl to Oracle: A Barbara Gordon Podcast, The Batman Universe) is two teachers talking about literature. Each episode, we will be taking a look at a single work, analyzing it, criticizing it and deciding if it’s worth its place in the canon.

In this episode, we look at Persepolis, Book One, Marajane Satrapi’s graphic novel depicting her coming of age during the Iranian Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s

Required Reading iTunes Page

Required Reading Podcast Page at Two True Freaks

Direct Download

If you like our podcast, feel free to liked our Facebook page (just search for Required Reading with Tom and Stella) or email us at requiredreadingcast@gmail.com