The book is masterful and engrossing. It is girded by more than 40 pages of endnotes. The author and David Holley, his researcher, have performed yeoman work. They capture what made the man tick and what led to his fall from grace. Kirtzman’s critique is leavened with bittersweet impressions and references to Giuliani’s accomplishments.
Giuliani: The rise and tragic fall of America’s mayor, inscribes its thesis in its subtitle. The notion is that Giuliani was once truly glorious, and that his subsequent association with Trump...constitutes a betrayal of the legacy he set down as the leader of New York during one of its greatest crises ... Kirtzman...is committed to the idea that his subject was once genuinely heroic ... But another story can be gleaned from this thoroughly reported and generally well-told book ... Bonded to his subject since the early 1990s, Andrew Kirtzman views Giuliani as something like a special uncle, so the former mayor’s putative descent strikes the biographer as tragic. Having loathed Giuliani since I moved to New York in 2000, especially after he became Mr 9/11, I can only see his late work as comic.
The biography is at its sharpest when examining the lifelong synergy between Trump and Giuliani ... Lurid notoriety is what we’ve come to expect or even demand of such public figures: they may be corrupting and chaotically wrecking our world, but are we not entertained?
How did a man of unusual legal and political talents end up a beached whale of a lawyer-politician touting for lucrative business in all sorts of murky places and shilling for a discredited president seemingly bent on upending the constitution?...It’s the essential question about Giuliani, but not one that Andrew Kirtzman attempts to answer in this biography. Instead, he in essence frames him as a dangerous extremist nutjob all along...Such a characterisation is hardly fair ... In his criticism of the former mayor, Kirtzman focuses on the sometimes legitimate civil liberties concerns that Giuliani’s tough policing raised...However, you would have to be a partisan hack — or a New York City reporter — not to at least acknowledge that, in dealing with a city on the verge of social breakdown, there might be a trade-off between tough enforcement and the freedoms of its citizens ... He dwells on Giuliani’s spectacularly messy personal life: his cohabitation with another woman while still married to his wife, and other dalliances. Kirtzman does grudgingly acknowledge that the mayor did a good public relations job in the days and weeks after 9/11. Yet he spends as much time assailing him for his supposed responsibility in failing to provide the New York City Fire Department with adequate communications equipment before 9/11, darkly suggesting that the mayor’s failure was actually responsible for a good number of the deaths of more than 340 firefighters that day ... As a New York journalist in the 1980s, Kirtzman has at times been regarded by some fellow media types as too close to Giuliani. Perhaps this book is an act of self-exoneration ... It is ironic indeed that he ended up on the side of the moronic and the corrupt. But that shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the man’s many achievements.
Lord help me I love a hatchet job, and you’ll have to too if you want to make it through Giuliani before donating it to Oxfam. This is not just any old biography – it’s a 480-page character assassination ... Many Americans thought Giuliani was a sort of hero on 9/11 – so that requires revisionism, as far as Kirtzman’s thesis is concerned. He all but accuses the mayor of having blood on his hands because the Twin Towers firefighters were using defective radios ... By this point the biography has dispensed with facts in favour of its political objectives. For instance, Giuliani’s children aren’t born; they leap out, like Athene from the head of Zeus, during the ‘revolting spectacle’ of his divorce. What was he like as a father? Who cares! You think this is a life of Giuliani? ... Hang on a ding dong minute, I frowned. Isn’t this book written by a journalist? Here’s Giuliani, with a career history of exposing corruption at the highest levels, alleging ‘the national security apparatus of the American government was lying, and that Biden was a criminal sitting on millions of dollars in bribes’. So I did a little Googling. Turns out Kirtzman was a journalist; now he has his own strategic communications firm. So that’s why the book reads like it was ghostwritten by a political consultant for the Biden administration.
At times the book seems more interested in Giuliani’s troubled marriage than his estranged relationship with reality, but 'the ex-wife made him do it' defense offered by some of Giuliani’s former advisers feels like a too-convenient excuse, since after the divorce he became even more closely tied to Trump ... What happened to Rudy Giuliani? The more pressing question posed by Kirtzman’s book is what happened to us, that it took so long to see it.
Richly detailed ... Though Kirtzman’s research impresses, the book’s abrupt shifts from heavy topics...to more gossipy matters can be jarring. Still, this is a comprehensive and alarming portrait of Giuliani’s downfall.