Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City


For three surreal weeks in the spring of 2000, Rudy Giuliani held the nation in suspense as he agonized over whether to continue in the race for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton. He'd been diagnosed with cancer; his marriage was crumbling amid reports of an extramarital affair; his wife tearfully lashed out at him in public. It was an excruciating private crisis played out before a national audience, and by the time Giuliani finally announced his decision in an extraordinary public performance, the world ...

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For three surreal weeks in the spring of 2000, Rudy Giuliani held the nation in suspense as he agonized over whether to continue in the race for the U.S. Senate against Hillary Clinton. He'd been diagnosed with cancer; his marriage was crumbling amid reports of an extramarital affair; his wife tearfully lashed out at him in public. It was an excruciating private crisis played out before a national audience, and by the time Giuliani finally announced his decision in an extraordinary public performance, the world was again captivated by the drama centering around this unusual man.

This is the story of Rudy Giuliani's rise to power, from the moment he and a small squad of ex-prosecutors set out to capture New York City's mayoralty in 1989 to the dramatic turning point in his race against the First Lady of the United States.

When Giuliani took over as mayor in 1994, New York was slowly sinking into an abyss of deteriorating living conditions: It was the crime capital of the country, described by Time magazine as "The Rotting Apple"; it was filthy and dangerous, its streets and terminals overtaken by armies of homeless people. The city was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy again. Polls showed most New Yorkers wanted out.

The public would soon get a taste of Giuliani's style. Each week brought a new brawl, with the new mayor egging his adversaries on. He threw Yasir Arafat out of Lincoln Center and sparked an international incident; he tried to evict the Brooklyn Museum after its directors staged an exhibition he deemed sacrilegious; he battled the Mafia, liberals, and leaders of his own party. The mayor snarled at the very mention of his critics — and their numbers seemed to grow by the hour.

Some viewed him as a savior; others called him a tyrant. But by the force of his will and little more, this man with no experience in municipal government ended up changing the face of his city.

In this riveting portrait of his mayoralty, Andrew Kirtzman tells the story of Giuliani's zealous crusade to clean up, control, and shape New York City. Based on interviews with more than two hundred of the mayor's closest aides and fiercest adversaries — and the author's own experience covering him for eight years — Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City tells the behind-the-scenes story of his reign.

Is Rudy Giuliani a hero, a danger, or both? What's it worth to be led by a strong man? How much power are we willing to give one person? Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City offers some answers as it tells the tale of one man's historic rise — in all its dramatic, outrageous, and ultimately poignant detail.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
He Did It His Way

My ears were still ringing as I sat down in a deserted newsroom, closed my eyes, and tried to think about nothing for a brief moment. It was two o'clock in the morning on November 2, 1993, two hours since a raspy-voiced Rudy Giuliani appeared on the stage of the Hilton Hotel and claimed victory in his campaign to seize the mayoralty from David Dinkins. For the first time all night there was quiet, except for the sound of a young staffer a few feet away from me, quietly sobbing at her desk.

I opened my eyes to watch her, an angelic-looking beauty barely out of grad school, dissolved in tears. That night, in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel, she'd watched the city's kind and grandfatherly mayor slide into defeat. All the idealists he'd brought to power watched as the dream borne of the election of the city's first black mayor came to a dismal end.

I'd been two blocks north and one block west that night, reporting from Giuliani headquarters. Cops, firemen -- anyone with a gripe about Dinkins -- stood around waiting nervously for the results. When a giant screen flashed a photograph of Rudy Giuliani and the words "PROJECTED WINNER" beneath it, the hushed crowd suddenly erupted in a deafening roar.

In the dramatic currents that were sweeping the city that night, it didn't seem unusual that an aspiring journalist, of all people, should be weeping. That night, the hopes and dreams of millions of New Yorkers, many of them black, were vanquished.

But for the rest of us, something profound was happening in New York City. Rudy Giuliani was promising that he would not just govern New York City but save it. And the city was dying.

For the next seven years, I watched with amazement as Giuliani did battle, sometimes with his enemies, often with himself. A journalist finds a subject who captivates him just a few times in a lifetime, and the new mayor soon grabbed hold of my attention, and my imagination. I didn't realize for years that I would feel the need to sit down and write a book about all I'd seen, but in retrospect the decision seemed inevitable.

Often, sitting with other reporters at the mayor's daily press briefing, I was less a journalist than a mesmerized spectator, blown away by the audacity, anger, and energy of a bizarre yet brilliant man determined to change the city. When Giuliani announced before a packed room of reporters and television cameramen that he'd decided to buck his own party's gubernatorial candidate and endorse Mario Cuomo, a villain to the Republicans, I almost began to cry from the enormity of the moment. I was like an opera fan surrendering to the bliss of a soaring aria: I was mesmerized by the drama of it all.

Giuliani specialized in moments like these. He enjoyed the build-up, the fevered speculation over his intentions, and the bombshell press conferences that would end these mini-dramas. It was like that at the end of his run for the Senate against Hillary Clinton. He seemed to take a perverse joy from self-destructing in so public a way, proudly parading his flame Judith Nathan up Second Avenue while his wife grieved over their deteriorating marriage. When he announced his withdrawal, he basked in the moment, even as his career was being -- in all likelihood -- irreparably damaged.

Former Mayor Ed Koch, who initially admired him, liked to say that Giuliani would never be a great mayor because he lacked the heart of a great mayor. But from a journalist's perspective, Giuliani was a great subject, no matter how flawed he was as a leader.

—Andrew Kirtzman

Walter Shapiro
A (gasp!) fair-minded study of Rudy Giuliani, brimming with insider anecdotes and telling insights.
Walter Shapiro
As a New Yorker and a political columnist who rarely blurbs books, I must congratulate Andrew Kirtzman for pulling off the near impossible by writing a (gasp!) fair-minded study of Rudy Giuliani, brimming with insider anecdotes and telling insights. At a time when Giuliani has become the most polarizing political figure north of the White House, Kirtzman both praises his lasting accomplishments, while also deftly detailing the insularity, the bunker mentality and the tragically lost promise of the mayor's second term. Sure the tabloids can endlessly speculate on the precise nature of Giuliani's relationship with Cristyne Lategano, but Kirtzman delivers the goods on a far more vital issue-the former communications director's insidious influence within City Hall.
USA Today
Jacob Weisberg
Most people will read Andrew Kirtzman's book for its engrossing political drama and jaw-dropping revelations about Rudy Giuliani's rise to power and paranoia. But in the process, they will find they have gotten something more: First-rate analysis from a journalist who understands New York as well as anyone now covering it. If you want to understand what's happened to the city in the past decade - for better and for worse - Rudy Giuliani, Emperor of the City is required reading.
Slate Magazine
Tish Durkin
Kirtzman has produced a kaleidoscope of insight into the bright, shifting, political mind of Rudy Giuliani. As with the well-told tale of any emperor, this one has the fabled rise, the pinnacle reached, the settling into stasis, the intrigues at court, the hints of mania - and, of course, the omnipotent dragon lady.
New York Observer
Richard Bernstein
[A] competent, informed, fair-minded though generally critical account of Mr. Giuliani's life in city government.
The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688174927
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/14/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 333
  • Product dimensions: 6.47 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Kirtzman has written a biography of Rudy Giuliani, covered more than a dozen national political campaigns for print and television, and hosted two of New York's most widely watched public affairs shows. In September 1999, Brill's Content magazine named Kirtzman one of New York's 10 Most Influential Journalists. In 2003, his week-in-review feature "Kirtzman's Column" won an Emmy Award for outstanding political programming.

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Read an Excerpt

The Runner Stumbles

Rain was falling on the campaign van as it wound through the streets of Manhattan toward the Metropolitan Republican Club. The trip to the Giuliani-for-Mayor kickoff ceremony should have been a joyous occasion. But as the candidate traveled through midtown traffic this dreary May morning in 1989, there was more desperation in the air than anything else.

Ray Harding had worried about the Giuliani crew from the beginning. "Smart guys, no experience," the Liberal Party chief had said. "How do I know this isn't Amateur Night at the Bijou?" The question hovered over Rudy Giuliani as he mapped strategy to contain the disaster of the day, a front-page story in the morning's Daily News disclosing that his law firm was registered as a foreign agent for Panama, as the U.S. government was charging General Manuel Noriega with cocaine trafficking. Giuliani wasn't the dictator's lawyer, but the distinction was lost on its way to the front page.

Harding was back at Liberal Party headquarters wondering how it could all be going so wrong. The candidate's huge lead in the polls was disintegrating. The campaign was running out of cash. Giuliani's strategists were lumping from crisis to crisis, while the candidate flailed about on the campaign trail.

When his moment came, Giuliani walked into the tiny space in whichFiorello LaGuardia had announced his run for mayor fifty-six years earlier. Dozens of sweat-soaked reporters were already there, squeezed against banks of television cameras. Giuliani introduced his wife, Donna, and held his three-year-old son, Andrew, aloft for the cameras. Then he launched into a tirade against the forces thathad overtaken New York.

"Now is the time to take back our city from the violent criminals on our streets and the white-collar criminals in their office suites," he said, "from the drug dealers in abandoned buildings and the crooked politicians who have abandoned their oath of office.

"It is time to restore the reputation of New York, so that once again our city will be known for its libraries, its universities, its culture, its industry, and its spirit -- not as it is known today for crime, crack, and corruption."

It was time, he said, "to take our streets, parks, and subways back from the criminals."

"No deals for jobs, no deals for contributors," he pledged. "What you see is what you get."

When he finished his speech, the candidate stuck to the game plan and took no questions. It was a strategy that made Harding furious: How could Giuliani ignore the New York City press corps on the day he launched his campaign? It was insanity. Sure enough, reporters shouted their questions to him as he made his way out of the room: Did he know about the Noriega connection? What would he do about it? Would he quit his law firm?

Within forty-eight hours, a commercial was running on television attacking him. "Rudy Giuliani is being paid almost one million dollars by the law firm that represents Panama's drug dictator Noriega," an announcer intoned as a picture of the general appeared next to Giuliani's. It was paid for by Giuliani's opponent in the Republican primary, Ronald Lauder, a multi-millionaire propped up by Senator Al D'Amato.

Soon afterward Mayor Ed Koch, the Democratic incumbent, jumped into the fray, accusing Giuliani of taking "drug money."

"My is it unfair, if Noriega would be arrested by some foreign marshal, to talk about the fact that he might call Rudy on the phone?" Koch asked reporters. Twisting the knife a little further, he questioned why Giuliani's firm, White & Case, had no black or Hispanic partners.

Giuliani fell into his trap. "Koch is intelligent enough to know he's lying" about his having taken drug money, he told reporters the next day. "I expect him to lie. With Lauder, who knows?" Lauder, he said, was "an incompetent" who "never had to work for a living." The front page of the next day's Newsday read "RUDY SNARLS."

Sensing weakness, D'Amato went in for the kill, appearing on CNBC to pronounce the Noriega question perfectly fair. "I don't believe you join a law firm like White and Case and get one million dollars and don't even know who your clients are," he said, almost doubling the size of Giuliani's salary. "Are they buying access to City Hall? That's a tough question, a fair question -- they pay you one million dollars to run for mayor?"

It was a classic New York feeding frenzy, sparked by an issue that was completely meaningless. Giuliani was getting banged around by politicians far more seasoned at this kind of game than he. The rookie candidate had kept a non-story alive and revived questions about his temperament in the process. Finally, on June 5 -- nineteen days after he announced his candidacy for mayor -- Giuliani put the Noriega story out of its misery and took a leave of absence from White & Case.

The candidate took a breath, then set out on another mission, which was to understand why his run for mayor, which had started out with so much promise, was unraveling.

0n January 11, 1989, the front page of the New York Post featured a huge photo of New York's best-known prosecutor holding an automatic pistol with a long black silencer. "GOOD NEWS FOR BAD GUYS," the headline roared. "Crimebuster Giuliani steps down."

America's most celebrated U.S. attorney had gathered his closest aides together and announced to a room full of reporters that he was resigning. "I hope the legacy we leave," he said solemnly, "is the continued emphasis on the need to reform the way in which we do business and practice politics..."

Rudy Giuliani. Copyright © by Andrew Kirtzman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
1. The Runner Stumbles 1
2. "We Have a City to Save" 32
3. The New Order 63
4. The Big Sweep 84
5. The Control Machine 97
6. The Mayor and His Little Victim 112
7. Rudy and Mario 127
8. The Press Gal 140
9. Ragin' Rudy 159
10. "Happy King Day!" Giuliani and the Black Community 178
11. The Gang Cracks Up 192
12. Demon 221
13. The Reluctant Candidate 254
14. "The Tower Is Coming Down" 289
Acknowledgments 307
Chronology 309
Notes 317
Index 339
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great book.

    This was an extremely well-researched, thoughtful, and perhaps most importantly, balanced book. Although Mr. Giuliani is largely lampooned by most in the media as only having done September 11th "right", this book illustrates the creativity and genius of a man who largely made New York City what it is today. A well-written account of an important period of New York City's history, and perhaps its most influential mayor next to Fiorello LaGuardia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2002

    Biased but informative

    This book gives an informative look at Rudy Giuliani while displaying the author's obvious distaste for his subject. Kirtzman spends the entire biography depersonalizing Giuliani, only then to give an account in the final chapter of the book of Giuliani's blatant love and affection for New York and New Yorkers on September 11th and the months to follow. The biography showed a harsh side of Giuliani given through his enemies and rivals' accounts. Giuliani did not cooperate with the book. People who clashed with the mayor appeared more than ready to have their opinion in print. Without intending to, Kirtzman proved the loyalty and trust that those closest to Giuliani possess through their lack of of quotations throughout the biography. Overall, Kirtzman tells a good story about a great man as only one beyond the mayor's inner circle could tell it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2001

    The best book on Guiliani around

    Absolutely a great book for anyone interested in NYC politics and how this man changed the Big Apple. It is a shame he can no longer can be our mayor. Kirtzman wrote the book unbiased and that made it that much better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2001

    An enlightening look at New York politics, and a fair account of New York's transformation under Giuliani. The ideal book to read before the upcoming mayoral election.

    This book awakened my interest in New York politics by showing me that things are not quite as they seem. And that no one, not even this most effective of politicians, with his aura of righteousness, is above the dirt. Kirtzman exposes the vindictive side of Rudy Giuliani as well as his many accomplishments, his paranoia and egotism, as well as his determination and fearlessness. He shows us a politician that is as easy to hate as he is to admire. A supporter of this mayor from the beginning, by the end of this book I couldn't help but view him with a mixture of gratitude and fear. The book explains the evolution of the city's transformation under Giuliani in a very readable style. Kirztman includes all the major events that shaped the city during this period, and adds his always informative and objective comments, but he never overwhelms the reader with complicated analysis, or too many details. This book is the quickest and easiest way for anybody to understand how New York changed under Rudy Giuliani, and how it became, in the eyes of most people, a more livable city, but also a very polarized one.

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