Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit

Overview

New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert dissects the body politic in these incisive-and often hilarious-portraits of the people who make New York City run.

As a reporter for The New York Times and then the The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert has had unparalleled access to the inner workings of the country's most complex and fascinating city. In the acclaimed profiles assembled here, Kolbert talks to politicians and policemen, bureaucrats and radicals, celebrities and demagogues. She ...

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2004 Hard cover First U.S. Edition New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 275 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert dissects the body politic in these incisive-and often hilarious-portraits of the people who make New York City run.

As a reporter for The New York Times and then the The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert has had unparalleled access to the inner workings of the country's most complex and fascinating city. In the acclaimed profiles assembled here, Kolbert talks to politicians and policemen, bureaucrats and radicals, celebrities and demagogues. She follows some on their heady ascent to greatness and others as they fall from grace, all the while questioning how power is attained, and then, just as often, squandered.

Kolbert writes about such classic New York characters as Boss Tweed, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, and Rudolph Giuliani. She reveals the machinations of city power in a provocative piece about the Amadou Diallo shooting and takes an unforgettably disgusting look at the work of city restaurant inspectors. And she investigates the influence of several private citizens, including Weather Underground member Kathy Boudin, the always controversial Al Sharpton, and Regis Philbin at the height of his fame.

Written during a defining period in the city's history-one that encompasses the Bloomberg mayoral campaign, the Clinton-Giuliani senatorial race, and September 11th-The Prophet of Love is a witty and eye-opening debut from one of our most fiercely intelligent writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
New Yorker staff writer Kolbert's collection of graceful and perceptive articles focusing on New York public figures reminds us how much has changed since the late 1990s. Part one, titled "Politics," includes a piece on Hillary Clinton, "Running on Empathy," reflecting the animosity that many felt for the carpetbagging former First Lady when she entered the New York State senate race. Kolbert atones later in "The Student," about Clinton as a hardworking senator. Kolbert is at her best in the timeless articles she penned in the aftermath of 9/11 about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Fire Chief William Feehan, who died as a result of the attacks. In her introduction, Kolbert notes that "political life is often indistinguishable from nonsense," and proves it in her illuminating account of Mark Green's losing mayoral campaign (about his primary win, she writes, "Between the fawning and the gloating, the self-promotion and the perfunctory humility, victory celebrations are rarely tasteful affairs"). In part two, "Impolitics," she trains her considerable intelligence and wit on such New York notables as TV host Regis Philbin, former Times executive editor Howell Raines and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Anyone interested in power and personalities in present-day New York will be well pleased. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (May 14) FYI: All but one of these articles first appeared in the New Yorker. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Observant, quicksilver explorations of the Big Apple's political landscape. Thank heavens that Kolbert broke free from the constraints of the New York Times, where she toiled for 14 years, and took up with the New Yorker, which allows for a more narrative approach to political analysis and appreciates the illuminating power of good prose. In this collection of relatively short pieces ranging from a half-dozen to a few dozen pages, Kolbert demonstrates that she knows from Adam how the New York political process works. For starters, she has read and understands the US Constitution, which is a real plus-and a rare one-for a political reporter. She also knows what the Ways and Means Committee does as compared to Budget or Appropriations, and how these committees bear upon the city's future. Kolbert draws shrewd, meaty, colorful portraits of New York politicos, but she can also tuck them into a nutshell: charisma-free New York City Mayor Bloomberg, shamelessly parochial Congressman Charles Rangel, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (who "generally gives the impression of having just returned from a funeral"), or public-speaking-challenged New York Governor George Pataki ("After delivering the hoariest of platitudes, he will pause for emphasis and look up for approval, seemingly genuinely pleased with himself"). She is equally good on corruption, from no-show employees to Boss Tweed's rule ("the brazenness of the self-dealing is almost unimaginable today, Enron notwithstanding"); on the sheer contrariness of the ACLU ("it takes a certain asceticism, not to mention an abstracted sense of self, to work for the American Civil Liberties Union and get a kick out of it"), and even on curios far from thepolitical sphere, such as Regis Philbin, who has "made a career of anatomizing human frailty without ever drawing blood."Choice political journalism. Agent: Kathy Robbins/The Robbins Office
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582344638
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 5/14/2004
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.66 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Kolbert was a reporter for the New York Times for fourteen years before leaving to become a staff writer covering politics for the New Yorker. She and her husband, John Kleiner, have three sons. They recently moved from New York to Williamstown, MA.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Politics
The charisma of no charisma : Governor George Pataki 7
The perils of safety : The New York City police department 15
Running on empathy : Hillary Clinton 24
Personal and political : Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 33
The prophet of love : Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 42
The inside game : Congressman Charles Rangel 49
In charge : Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 63
The chief : Fire Chief William Feehan 66
The long campaign : Mark Green and the 2001 New York City mayoral race 77
The mogul mayor : Mayor Michael Bloomberg 86
The fellowship of the ring : Boss Tweed 106
Everyone lies : New York City restaurant inspectors 115
Six billion short : Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York budget crisis 123
Accountants in the sky : The New York state legislature 132
The student : Senator Hillary Clinton 143
Pt. II Impolitics
Stormin' Norman : Norman Siegel 171
Common man : Regis Philbin 181
The prisoner : Kathy Boudin 195
The unfashionable Mr. Lam : Wing Lam 219
The calculator : Kenneth Feinberg 229
Tumult in the newsroom : Howell Raines 241
The people's preacher : Reverend Al Sharpton 252
Acknowledgments 276
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Recipe

"This country needs more writers like Elizabeth Kolbert."-Jonathan Franzen

"A tack is sharp. Elizabeth Kolbert is sharper. Also funnier. There is not a limp line in this book."-Louis Menand

"The Prophet of Love showcases her remarkable insight, verve and wit."-Jeffrey Toobin
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