Giuliani: Flawed or Flawless?
The Oral Biography
by Deborah & Gerald Strober
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by Massscorecard.org:
This is a very odd political biography, or as the authors acll it, an "Oral Biography".
It feels like the authors had a cute idea for an easy book, then wrote it according to the cute formula, without much regard for the reader.
The cute formula is that the authors asked a dozen knowledgeable people about key issues of Giuliani's mayoral term, and simply wrote down their answers. One can imagine the authors pitching this book to a publisher: "This book just writes itself!"
The people asked (or "interviewees", as the book calls them) are well-balanced to explore whether Giuliani is indeed flawed or flawless -- from Al Sharpton, to NYC Police representatives, to Giuliani's mayoral rivals.
And the questions asked are
well-chosen too: from the Louima and Diallo police killings, to Giuliani's 9/11 actions and aftermath.
In other words, following the cute formula, this book is as successful as it could be.
The same formula could be followed to produce lots of other books about other people, very easily, without actually having to write an actual book.
But we say "without much regard for the reader"
because, well, authors SHOULD have to write their books, rather than let them "write themselves."
The authors provide a paragraph or two, in most cases, to explain the issue in question, and then leave it to the interviewees to explain the rest.
That's fine for people who are intimately familiar with the issues, such as the interviewees -- but it's inadequate for most readers.
For example, how many of us know the details of the Louima and Diallo police killings?
Readers need more -- the basic facts, as well as the implications of the event, and maybe some hindsight about how it played in later campaigns.
And readers certainly need more insight into how these issues affect Giuliani's presidential run.
The book was published in 2007, when Giuliani's presidential ambitions were well-established.
There should be no reason for coyness about the implications of each issue on a Giuliani presidency -- but that's not explored until the final chapter of the book, 7 pages out of 315, entitled "Gazing into the Crystal Ball: The Presidency in Rudy's Future". The interviewees answer again, as per the formula, but readers really need a summary of the issues, to encapsulate the relevance of the book.
In summary, this book is good raw material -- but not good reading, and not good insight into Giuliani's character.
Giuliani's autobiography, Leadership, provides superior insight.
-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@Massscorecard.org, March 2008
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Al Sharpton: Giuliani’s tone allowed Louima police brutality.
Al Sharpton: NYPD “cowboy” unit disbanded after Diallo shooting.
Eric Holder: Declined federal involvement in NYC Diallo shooting.
Rudy Giuliani: Applies strict moral standards to lawbreakers.
Rudy Giuliani: Prosecuted Miss America for fraud (and lost).
Rudy Giuliani: As mayor, reduced crime but didn’t raise police pay.
Rudy Giuliani: Considered police brutality in Louima case an aberration.
Al Sharpton: Dorismond drug shooting shook the family by accusing victim.
Rudy Giuliani: In Dorismond drug shooting, sullied victim as “no choirboy”.
Mike Bloomberg: Debated against eliminating social promotion.
Rudy Giuliani: Attended Catholic high school in Brooklyn.
Families & Children|
Rudy Giuliani: Annulled 14-year 1st marriage because wife was 2nd cousin.
Rudy Giuliani: As mayor, asked Yasir Arafat to leave concert both attended.
Mario Cuomo: Permitted ballot question on State Island secession from NYC.
Mike Bloomberg: 2001: opposed Giuliani extending NYC term limit.
Rudy Giuliani: Attempted to undo term limits to extend his mayoralty.
Al Sharpton: Ordinary NYers are 9/11 heroes; Giuliani just did his job.
John Kerry: OpEd: Lost 2004 because wouldn't stand up to terrorists.
Mike Bloomberg: 9/11 FYPD were heroes because they chose to stay behind.
Rudy Giuliani: Avoided military service in Vietnam with a deferment.
Rudy Giuliani: Giuliani’s 9/11 actions reassured a traumatized city.
Rudy Giuliani: Locating command center in WTC7 contributed to destruction.
Rudy Giuliani: 9/11 FYPD were heroes because they chose to stay behind.
Principles & Values|
Mario Cuomo: Endorsed by Rudy Giuliani across party lines.
Rudy Giuliani: Legacy is safer, cleaner, economically viable NYC.
Welfare & Poverty|
Bill Clinton: Opened office in Harlem Empowerment Zone.
Charles Rangel: Architect of Harlem Empowerment Zone legislation.
The above quotations are from Giuliani: Flawed or Flawless?
The Oral Biography
by Deborah & Gerald Strober.
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