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 faces its greatest immigration crisis ever: finding housing for millions of its own citizens. The federal government hastily retrofits an abandoned government installation in the Nevada desert. 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 gang warfare fuses with democracy, forming a frightening new political system: the gangocracy.
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 if somewhat unbalanced older brother Paul, a brilliant electrical engineer whose jealousy toward Robert and anger at the devastation caused by the man's urban "renewal" projects leads to a dire outcome.