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Rudy! An Investigative Biography Of Rudolph Giuliani Hardcover – July 10, 2000

2.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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"The book clearly has a point of view," Wayne Barrett admits in the preface to his biography of the famously prickly New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. A point of view, or a very sharp hatchet--readers might well get the two confused. For a representative sample, simply turn to the book's final pages: "The father he celebrated so often was a pathological predator. His extended family harbored a junkie, a crooked cop and a murky mob wing. He dissolved his first marriage with a lie so he could appear Catholic when he remarried. The very personal jewelry his first wife found in her bedroom wasn't hers...." And so on and so on, for a full eight paragraphs.

What precedes this litany are some startling revelations about Harold Giuliani's unsavory past, as well as gritty new details about his son's mayoral love life. (We get chapters entitled, respectively, "All in the Family: Crooks, Cops and a Junkie," "Sex in the City," and "More Sex in the City"). But Barrett--a senior editor at the Village Voice--has equally devastating things to say about matters of policy. Though he concedes that the city has become a better place to live under Giuliani, he convincingly argues that the mayor takes credit where credit isn't due. Barrett also points to the price Gotham has paid for its kinder, gentler makeover: deteriorating race relations, escalating tension between New Yorkers and police, and an increasingly difficult life for the city's underclass.

As depicted in Rudy! Giuliani is the kind of politician who doctors statistics, backpedals on key issues, and caves to political cronies even while maintaining a façade of scrupulous honesty. As a person--well, it won't surprise anyone to learn that Giuliani is egomaniacal, callous, and obsessed with control. (On a visit to a Haitian baseball factory, for instance, he's far more interested in how the balls are put together than how the workers are treated.) And if the attack sometimes seems a little personal (the mayor's arrogance "is like body odor to Rudy, repellent to others but undetectable to him"), that's because it is. One of Giuliani's defenders during his years as U.S. attorney, Barrett used to be known as a "Rudy man," and his more vituperative descriptions smack not just of disillusionment but of actual betrayal. Hell may have no fury like a journalist scorned, but at least on the basis of the behavior depicted here, Giuliani deserves most of what he's getting. Sharp, withering, and improbably up-to-date--one pictures Barrett scribbling like mad right up to the bitter end--Rudy! is a political biography in the finest muckraking tradition. --Mary Park

From the Inside Flap

Rudy Guiliani. New York City's Mayor. America's Number One Cop. A municipal superhero who needs no phone booth. A politician of astonishing complexity whose full story has never been told. Until now.

Guiliani has assumed mythic proportions, the can-do emblem of the new urban politics. He has been heralded as the ultimate turn-around artist - projecting himself as the reformer who single-handedly salvaged a crime-ridden and blighted New York. From his days in the Eighties as the Michael Milken-busting U.S. Attorney of Manhattan to his current purge of hundreds of thousands from his city's welfare rolls, Giuliani has targeted rich and poor with the same relentless certitude.

This investigative biography starts with the college kid who confided his presidential dream to his girlfriend and practiced future campaign speeches in front of her at home. It analyzes his substantial impact as U.S. Attorney, badly wounding the Mafia, ransacking the white collared halls of Wall Street and forever changing the face of New York politics. It looks at his celebrated crime reduction and other achievements through a new lens, highlighting the single-mindedness that has made Giuliani one of America's most important and controversial figures.

With two marriages as troubled and secretive as his family history, Giuliani is on every New Yorker's therapeutic couch, stirring feelings as intense as the ones that visibly boil inside of him. Though he has become a national legend, his re-election total in 1997 was the lowest in seventy-four years.

Wayne Barrett, co-author of the bestselling City for Sale, draws on twenty years of reporting on Giuliani to bring us the most comprehensive and newsbreaking biography of a man of giant contradictions and unpredictable expectations.

Wayne Barrett is a senior editor at the Village Voice, where he's been covering politics for twenty-two years. He is the author of Trump: The Deals and the Downfall and co-author of City for Sale. He was awarded the 1990 Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award as well as numerous other journalism prizes.

Adam Fifield, who assisted Barrett, recently published his own first book, A Blessing Over Ashes (William Morrow).

Praise for City for Sale:

"An absorbing chronicle of corruption that meticulously exposes Mayor Edward Koch's alibis and diversions.They employ a narrative style that manages to combine Joe McGinniss and Joe Friday. They tell an arresting story-literally-that blends courtroom drama, political intrigue and the psychology of power. Their touches of color vivify the prevalence and the 'banality of evil.'...City for Sale is important not only for its text but for its context."
-Mark Green, The Nation

-The New Yorker

Praise for Trump: The Deals and the Downfall:

"Trump is a withering portrait of the most self-mythologized and promoted businessman of our era, an exhaustively researched and long-overdue antidote to Trump's own books. It is a penetrating portrait of the age that spawned him and the many who aided and abetted his rise. Trump seems destined to be the definitive account of how Trump got ahead and why he fell. It is a sad story, with important lessons for us all."
-James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Den of Thieves

"Donald Trump surprises us again. Wayne Barrett's Trump is a fresh, detailed, and vivid account of the tangled connections of money, politics, and power in our times."
-Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (July 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465005233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465005239
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you like Rudy, you won't like this book.
If you don't like Rudy, the book will provide abundant ammunition when you make your case. Barrett is obviously biased against Rudy, and there's no ambiguity about that. But only the ignorant, of the hopelessly dogmatic, will accuse him of not doing his homework, or of being a 2nd rate journalist. Every assertion he makes is backed up with facts and data, sometimes ponderously so.
It's not light reading, or particularly entertaining, but if you want the facts (nothing but the facts, ma'am) on the phenomena that is Rudy Giuliani, this is the only book to read.
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Format: Paperback
As a lifelong resident of New York City who came of age during the Giuliani years, i found this book very interesting. I was particularly impressed with Barrett's research into Giuliani's family history and his pre-mayoral career. The chapters on his '89 and '93 races for mayor were also interesting. a chapter dedicated to crime statistics seemed mundane but i guess was part of Barretts quest to give as much data to support his claims against Giuliani's success in bringing down crime. Most biographies have a level of bias, this one does have a high level of bias against Giuliani. it was still great reading and a good account on a portion of new york city history.
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Format: Paperback
Being a pro-Giuliani guy, I ignored the book initally, knowing the tone of it was anti-Rudy. I had then picked this book from the library after I read that it was the inspiration for the Woods TV film. I was disappointed in the TV movie and hoped this book would be better.
Whether the TV film used any of this material or not is questionable, since whatever similarities Barrett's book and the film share are very minor and could be found from other sources besides this book.
But enough of the film, what about this book? It turned out not to be quite as Anti-Rudy as I thought. I don't think Barrett intended to write a full smear on Rudy. In fact, for one who knew very little of Rudy before he became mayor, the book was quite revealing. Barrett was friends with Rudy during this time and his insider knowledge shows at this point. I learned a lot about Rudy as a prosecutor in his early days and how the one time Bobby Kennedy-Democrat became a republican. Considering how pro-cop Rudy is, I was also surprised to learn he was involved in the Serpico cases and the other whistle blower case that led to the movie"Prince of The City." Also, we find out that Rudy had relatives involved in organized crime, which might explain his toughness to stand up to the mob.
Barrett and Giuilani stop being friends about the time he became Mayor. And it is there, the book falters. Not so much because it is anti-Rudy but more because of what Barrett reveals during his mayor days. We find out Rudy is like most politicans: flip-flops on issues, takes more credit that he deserves for certain things, and because he joined the Republican party became more Republican-like than he was before he became mayor. Rudy's typical politican actions seem to surprise and dissapoint Barrett.
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Format: Hardcover
For those steeped in American history, the state of New York is one of the few reliable stepping places for American politicians to reach great heights. First came the Roosevelt's, then came the Rockefellers, and in the past two decades we have Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. The latter is one of America's best salesman in politics, and this highly readable book provides an in-depth biography and breakdown of the man's personal and professional career, and how intertwined they are. Starting with a gritty look at his family's origins, and their ties to organized crime, the book traces Rudy's life in school, his entrance into school politics, then his days in college culminating with law school. From there the book covers his work as prosecutor, both for the state of New York and then in the federal government under Ronald Reagan.

All this time, we see a man who is a progressive liberal outside of the courtroom, and a relentless prosecutor inside of it. But joining both aspects of his personality was an opportunism, an addiction to his own self-success and self-promotion. The author of this book painstakingly examines key cases worked on by Rudy, and breaks down his contributions versus those of others; contrasting how his declared successes often came on the backs of others. Then comes the meat of the book; his campaigns and finally his reign as mayor. Thru all this is his gradual but steady move to the right on everything he can publicly get away with. Whether it be his self-proclaimed family values, to his policies on welfare and poverty-relief, the author shows a public man no better than thousands of other politicians in the same time frame.... going with the flow.
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By A Customer on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wayne Barrett's biography of Rudolph Giuliani is more than an expose of the mayor's family album. It is a textbook to be carefully read by anyone who admires meticulous research and scrupulous documentation, or wants to know what muckraking is all about. It is living, up-to-the-moment history presented with a point of view by a masterful reporter/detective.
One chapter (that is as detailed as it is eye-opening) probes New York City's famous crime reduction statistics. The author reveals that almost 60% of the crime decrease under Mayor Giuliani is the result of large declines in only a few property crimes (such as auto theft and attempted burglary).
Based on these findings, logical conclusions are drawn to show that, contrary to Giuliani-speak, the reductions have little to do with police work or mayoral policies. Instead, the case is made that more credit for the reversal should go to community and church groups (particularly in the rejection of crack).
Standing alone, but representative of the high journalistic standards reached in the entire book, this impressive chapter penetrates the oversimplified, self-serving version of truth that Mr. Giuliani has conditioned us to accept as wisdom.
Finally getting a chance to look at the facts and patterns behind the crime statistics curtain should stimulate informed discussion of what's really been happening in New York and across the country.
The book is a total breakthrough.
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