Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor by Andrew Kirtzman (Simon & Schuster). Here’s something a certain New Yorker, once a Hoosier, wrote to some other former …
Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor by Andrew Kirtzman (Simon & Schuster). Here’s something a certain New Yorker, once a Hoosier, wrote to some other former Hoosiers scattered about the country, on 9/11/2001: Our little fascist Mayor Rudy has been a snotnose from time to time, but now actually makes you believe that not only are there people in charge who are competent, but people who have civilized values and human emotions and real care for all of us, and you get to believing that we’re okay people and that we’re going to be fine in the long run. Rudy might have been sad, and/or angry, or maybe even hurt, but he clearly had no time for outrage, or bluster, or threats of vengeance, or suchlike. He also, in the practical, literal sense, had no time to create a PR strategy—to compose and revise and rehearse a speech, for example. He was fully engaged, at once, in planning and constructing our comeback, which was clearly going to be an enormous deal of work, over many months. He was just uninterested, from the start, in indignation or bluster. It was, in fact, more genuinely defiant than anger and threats would have been. But what was most striking on that day, and most inspiring, indeed, for days and months to come, was the forgoing of bluster, even to open with; he just went straight to: Let’s get to work; we have a lot to do, here. And that demonstration of what feelings to choose to operate from, from among all that he was experiencing, was not just calming to the rest of us, it was inspiring—it created, in us, a determination that felt like courage.
What may well remain a mystery forever (it is to me, still, and I’ve read this very smart book) is what in his character, or what that was missing from it, created the extremes of his instinctual drive, from impeccable role model, then, to grubby cliché, a shambling drunk, which it’s unkind but by no means unfair to call him, now. And which in turn made possible (maybe inevitable) the failure of any of his considerable strengths to combat successfully the all-but-superhuman power of his appetites—for women, if anything even more than for drink, but both are part of the story. I’m actually embarrassed to admit how much I enjoyed this book until Mr. Giuliani’s seemingly helpless hunger—not just tolerance—for self-ruin, began to seem more tragic than comic.
Wise Gals: The Spies Who Built the CIA and Changed the Future of Espionage by Nathalia Holt (Putnam). To clear the palate, this downright inspiring history. Far from the first that we’ve seen enriching (restoring, really) the literature (the histories) of women meaningful to our readings of history. Title and subtitle describe it accurately, and it makes terrific reading, both enlightening and enjoyable.
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