By: Kirkus Reviews
A long-awaited re-appraisal of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s much-hailed actions surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be published in September to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. It’s called “The Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11,” written by Wayne Barrett, the longtime Village Voice writer and author of a biography of the former mayor, and Dan Collins, a senior producer for CBSNews.com. The publisher is HarperCollins.
“When he assured New York that things would come out all right, he was blessedly believable.” That was on 9/11. Things haven’t been as good for Rudy Giuliani since. And this book won’t make it any better.
Compared to the bewildered George W. Bush, Giuliani projected confidence, calm and leadership in the terrible hours after the Twin Towers fell. That was all to the good. However, Barrett and Collins assert, Giuliani’s subsequent claims that he had expected and had been preparing for a terrorist attack since taking office do not match the facts, which the authors explore in abundant (and just this side of numbing) detail.
Giuliani, for instance, detailed an Office of Emergency Management, but then located its headquarters inside what had long been identified as a prime target?the World Trade Center. It was, the authors write, “the only bunker ever built in the clouds.”
The heads of various crisis-management-and-response units were political appointees, most in way above their heads. Giuliani and his subordinates were never able to coordinate communications among various fire, police, dispatch, public-health and other agencies; had they been successful, there’s a good chance, the authors maintain, that the civilians who were told to stay in place inside the burning towers would have been evacuated, as the fire chiefs had ordered.
The authors’ account verges on indictment when they explore why the firefighters’ handy-talkies did not work, a congeries of causes ranging from the technological to the political. Suffice it to say that the Giuliani City Hall seems to have been no stranger to sweetheart deals and patronage, so that the employee in charge of emergency broadband communications had a sister who worked as a lobbyist for the phone provider who just happened to win the lucrative contract. That employee later committed suicide.
Now a millionaire, Giuliani may not have been directly responsible for all those woes, but they happened on his watch. This careful condemnation will raise eyebrows.
(Review courtesy of Kirkus Reviews, one of E&P’s sister publications at VNU Inc.)