Robert Moses: The Mas­ter Builder of New York City

Pierre Christin; Olivi­er Balez, illus.
  • Review
By – June 15, 2015

The graph­ic biog­ra­phy Robert Moses: The Mas­ter Builder of New York City has a 1950s, text­book-like feel to it, with infor­ma­tive details, mut­ed col­ors, high-con­trast design and plen­ty of maps. Beau­ti­ful­ly ren­dered by a Chilean com­ic artist and a French com­ic writer, it con­veys both the small scale life of the pro­tag­o­nist and his big-scale accomplish­ments. Read­ers under­stand that Moses was an impor­tant city plan­ner. The writ­ing delves deep into Moses’ psy­che. His iden­ti­ty as a Ger­man-Jew­ish New York­er is impor­tant — both because he was belit­tled by WASPS and felt the need to do some­thing impor­tant and also because he mar­veled at the squalor and scale of New York City as it was flood­ed by new­er co-core­li­gion­ists and many oth­ers. With the inclu­sion of urban­ist Jane Jacobs to the sto­ry as the antag­o­nist, Christin and Balez give a bal­anced and crit­i­cal descrip­tion of Moses’ accom­plish­ments. Class issues are ham­mered out. It will take a mature read­er to under­stand some of the advanced con­cepts and lines like: The 60s are no longer defined by rev­er­ence for the pro­pri­eties of the WASP but by col­or­ful agitation.”

Discussion Questions