The Five Books of (Robert) Moses

The Five Books of (Robert) Moses

by Arthur Nersesian

Published by: Akashic Books

1504 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 100 Black & White illustrations; 2 full-color maps

  • Hardcover
  • 9781617754999
  • Published: July 2020

$44.95

A dramatic, playful, brutal, sweeping, and always entertaining reimagining of New York City history, presaging today's political tyranny.

"A postmodern masterwork that outdoes Pynchon in eccentricity--and electricity, with all its dazzling prose."
--Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

"Mr. Nersesian's work is a tale of extremes. The finished product weighs more than 4 pounds. If he stacked all his manuscript pages since he began the book back in 1993 it would stand 6 feet tall, a shade taller than himself, Mr. Nersesian says...Main characters include a fictionalized Robert Moses, the powerful public official who reshaped New York City and its environs, and his brother Paul, an electrical engineer. A difficult relationship between the two has dire consequences. There are also pop-culture favorites from the period, including psychedelic evangelist Timothy Leary; urbanologist Jane Jacobs, and poet Allen Ginsberg. All are intended to show readers how the value of culture erodes in an isolated world."
--Wall Street Journal

"Arthur Nersesian is the Bard of Lower East Side Manhattan...He knows every street corner, every bar, store, book stall, and even the famous 100-year-old Russian shvitz on 10th Street. Nobody does it better. Not Don DeLillo, not Richard Price, and not William Burroughs."
--On the Seawall

"A sprawling, engrossing Pentateuch of an alternate New York City...Nersesian's binge-worthy odyssey is a singularly wild ride."
--Publishers Weekly

"Nersesian is one of my favorite New York authors; this tome is one to lose yourself in."
--Bob Odenkirk, actor, Breaking Bad

After a domestic terrorist unleashes a dirty bomb in Manhattan in 1970, making the borough uninhabitable, FBI agent Uli Sarkisian finds himself in a world that is suddenly unrecognizable as the United States is faced with its greatest immigration crisis ever: finding housing for millions of its own citizens. The federal government hastily retrofits an abandoned military installation in the Nevada desert, vast in size. Despite the government's best intentions, as the military pulls out of "Rescue City," the residents are increasingly left to their own devices, and tribal warfare fuses with democracy, forming a frightening evolution of the two-party system: the gangocracy. Years after the Manhattan cleanup was supposed to have been finished, Uli travels through this bizarre new New York City, where he is forced to reckon with his past, while desperately trying to get out alive.

The Five Books of (Robert) Moses alternates between the outrageous present of Rescue City and earlier in the twentieth century, detailing the events leading up to the destruction of Manhattan. We simultaneously follow legendary urban planner Robert Moses through his early years and are introduced to his equally ambitious older brother Paul, a brilliant electrical engineer whose jealousy toward Robert and anger at the devastation caused by the man's "urban renewal" projects lead to a dire outcome.

Arthur Nersesian's most important work to date examines the political chaos of today's world through the lens of the past. Fictional versions of real historical figures populate the pages, from major politicians and downtown drag queens to notorious revolutionaries and obscure poets.