Rudy Giuliani emerged from the smoke of 9/11 as the unquestioned hero of the day: America's Mayor, the father figure we could all rely on to be tough, to be wise, to do the right thing. In that uncertain time, it was a comfort to know that he was on the scene and in control, making the best of a dire situation.
But was he really?
Grand Illusion is the definitive report on Rudy Giuliani's role in 9/11—the true story of what happened that day and the first clear-eyed evaluation of Giuliani's role before, during, and after the disaster.
While the pictures of a soot-covered Giuliani making his way through the streets became very much a part of his personal mythology, they were also a symbol of one of his greatest failures. The mayor's performance, though marked by personal courage and grace under fire, followed two terms in office pursuing an utterly wrongheaded approach to the city's security against terrorism. Turning the mythology on its head, Grand Illusion reveals how Giuliani has revised his own history, casting himself as prescient terror hawk when in fact he ran his administration as if terrorist threats simply did not exist, too distracted by pet projects and turf wars to attend to vital precautions.
Authors Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins also provide the first authoritative view of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, recounting the triumphs and missteps of the city's efforts to heal itself. With surprising new reporting about the victims, the villains, and the heroes, this is an eye-opening reassessment of one of the pivotal events—and politicians—of our time.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 provided Rudy Giuliani with a Churchillian political opportunity: while Bush was whisked away by the Secret Service, Giuliani seized the moment, striding stalwartly along ruined streets, an image which may well propel him to the White House. Barrett and Collins' investigation proves an illuminating counterpoint to Giuliani's unofficial christening as "America's Mayor," highlighting the critical errors Guiliani made before, during and after the attack. According to the authors, that memorable image-Rudy among the ruins-hides a multitude of sins: in the event of a terrorist attack, Giuliani should have been directing police, fire and emergency services from the city's high-tech underground emergency management center; unfortunately, Giuliani had insisted that that secure center be located at the World Trade Center. Political infighting between police and fire departments went unchecked, preventing coordination between first responders, and Giuliani's rush to return New York to business as usual (fearing that Wall Street might relocate) may have seriously impaired the health of returning workers and residents. The Giuliani who emerges from these pages-shrewd, calculating, indomitable-remains an impressive figure, but one that will give voters pause. Barrett and Collins provide a critique of one of the lions of 9/11, proving that serious investigation and old-fashioned muckraking are still powerful and necessary weapons.