cover image THE FULL RUDY: The Man, the Myth, the Mania

THE FULL RUDY: The Man, the Myth, the Mania

Jack Newfield, . . Thunder's Mouth/Nation, $11.95 (150pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-482-9

Veteran New York journalist Newfield (Somebody's Gotta Tell It, etc.) gets right to the point, his lead sentence declaring Rudy Giuliani "a C-plus mayor... who has become an A-plus myth" since September 11. Rather than defining the mayor by his last few months in City Hall, Newfield insists "we should see him the way he was on September 10" and expands on an article published in the Nation in 2001 to depict the underside of Giuliani's eight years in power. Readers outside New York City may recall the more notorious incidents recounted here, such as Giuliani's attempt to shut down the Brooklyn Museum of Art over an allegedly sacrilegious exhibit, but they'll also see Giuliani portrayed as a political opportunist who changed party affiliations twice before becoming mayor, slashed the city's education budget by $2 billion in his first term and blew through budget surpluses to leave the city $15 billion in debt. Newfield emphasizes the former mayor's apparent condescension toward political opposition, such as what some heard as thinly veiled homophobic jabs at schools chancellor Ramon Cortines. Newfield also believes a "worm of rancor" characterized Giuliani's record on race relations, including his near-blanket refusal to meet with elected officials from minority communities. Although the book is somewhat repetitive despite its brevity and occasionally lapses into an excessively antimessianic fervor, it illustrates facets of Giuliani that many New Yorkers may have forgotten and the rest of America might want to know about. Illus. (Feb.)

Forecast:It's not likely Americans want their Giuliani bubble burst and will probably prefer Leadership to this, but lots of New Yorkers will welcome Newfield's portrait.