- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 14 hours and 24 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.com Release Date: March 29, 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000F8CPYG
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York, and the Genius of American Life Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
Siegel provides a short history of New York City politics from the 1930s onward. I had no idea of just how far to the left the city was and how the government took so much from working people in order to support a huge (600,000!) cadre of those who wouldn't work and myriad social service "providers" catering to their imagined needs. Siegel provides facts, not opinions. If he has an axe to grind, he's done a superb job of keeping it hidden.
Giuliani, facing the reality of the fiscal devestation wreaked by his predecessors, attempts to bring the budget under control. Needless to say the entrenched bureaucracies, unions and interest groups fight him every step of the way, resorting to lies, ad hominems and even the threat of violence in the form of race riots if Giuliani doesn't retreat or compromise.
Siegel paints a portrait of Giuliani that predicted the man the nation and world became familiar with on and after 9/11. A strong man, secure in his beliefs; a man who was willing and able to stand alone. As it happens, Siegel reveals Giuliani as a skillful poltician who was able to weave a small alliance of forward thinking politicians, even those who were his political opposites, but who had the welfare of New York at heart.
The battles were monmumental, much greater than the national news reported. The corruption and stagnation of New York City is unbelievable. A Board of Education that consumed $11 billion annually, turned out graduates who couldn't read, but protected school custodians who mopped lunchrooms once a week. Principalships were sold. The number of employees was unknown. Corruption was rife. And this was only one of the problems Giuliani faced.
Al Sharpton and Charlie Rangel are portrayed as villains. Each reader, I am certain, will have their own opinion of these men. But their machinations are well covered in Siegel's book.
One of the most frightening chapters talks of how CUNY, once called the "poor man's Harvard" was dumbed down. CUNY's education college turned out most of the teachers for New York City's public schools. More than 50% of these teachers couldn't pass a simple exam. The academics then claimed that these failures were good teachers, but bad test takers --- and further dumbed down the test. With its open admission policy and free tuition, CUNY graduated less than 1% of its 2 year degree students within two years. (Perhaps as a byproduct of CUNY's dumbing down, the editing and proofreading of this book is awful. Spelling and grammatical errors abound. Small factual details weren't checked: the Chicago Institute of Art is mentioned: it happens to be the Chicago Art Institute.)
Siegel recounts the political jockeying when the Democrats attempt to defeat Giuliani. New York City is a wonderland of bizarre political alliances.
Finally, Siegel covers the Rudy of 9/11 and the immediate post-Rudy period.
As political history, "The Prince of the City" is absolutely first-rate. Regardless of your political viewpoint, it should be required reading.
Siegel has effusive praise for Rudy's prescience in anticipating, and preparing the City for, another terrorist attack after the first WTC bombing. Giuliani saw a link between the 1990 Meir Kahane assassination and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and knew the terrorist threat was real and on-going. His crisis management plans, while no panacea, paid dividends in the City's response to 9/11.
On the political front, Giuliani's endorsement sealed the election for Bloomberg in 2001. But a more telling measure of his influence that election year was the extent to which a longtime foe and career Naderite like Mark Green adopted much of Rudy's agenda. Giuliani bequeathed to Bloomberg a City whose economy was deeply wounded by 9/11 and the post-bubble recession on Wall Street, but that was in fundamentally better shape than Giuliani himself inherited in 1994. Still, Bloomberg's failure to meaningfully curb spending, imposition of tax increases and generally more paternalistic approach to governance signaled the end of the Giuliani Era in New York.
While I enjoyed this book a great deal, I deducted one star from my rating due to an inordinate number of typos and several careless mistakes. For example, Browning Ferris Industries, the national waste management behemoth, is repeatedly referred to as "Brown & Ferris."
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