Leadership by Rudy Giuliani (2002, Miramax Books)
A decade and a half can make all of the difference in the world.
One of the great regrets I have of the realignment of the Republican party under Trump is that many of the contemporary political books I have seem as if they were written by people attempting to repudiate what the authors are currently espousing. In few places is this differentiation more obvious than in the pages of this book.
Rudy Giuliani lays out for the reader his experiences on September 11, 2001, when he and other NYC public servants earned international acclaim for their response to the horrific terrorist attack. He then uses the events of that and following days to illustrate what he feels are the necessary principles of good and successful leadership.
The book is concise, amiable, and casual and attempts to be persuasive instead of demeaning or belligerent. The lessons in it are not especially insightful; there have been dozens of books written about how to be an effective leader and most of them tread similar if not identical ground. What earns this book extra attention are the anecdotes used for leadership examples and the respect that Giuliani commanded for his efforts.
Rudy’s activities in recent years have run directly counter to most of the instructions within this book, with the possible exception of chapter 10: Loyalty, the Vital Virtue. Chapter 12, Stand Up to Bullies, is particularly egregious.
If you’ve got a Trump fan on your Christmas list, this might be a good book to give them… if you think they’d consider the difference between Giuliani’s book positions and his current positions being voiced on cable news.
Graverobbers Wanted, No Experience Necessary by Jeff Strand (2003, Mundania Press)
Jeff Strand is one of the best writers to ever blend the horror and comedy genres, putting his experience as a professional stand-up comic to good use in many of his books. The Andrew Mayhem series is a prime example of this, and Graverobbers Wanted is the first book in that series.
Mayhem, despite his name, is a fairly ordinary person. He’s got a family that he loves. He’s trying to make ends meet while still being able to enjoy an occasional night out with his best friend. He means well. He’s not a brawler; if anything, he’s somewhat inept. He is far more Ralph Kramden or Fred Flintstone than James Bond or Race Bannon.
He’s also willing to do a little hard work for some cash, and when he’s offered a job retrieving a key in exchange for the promise of a large payout, he accepts. The reason the payout is large is because the activity associated with the key is not entirely legal. It’s buried in a coffin, with a corpse; but the next-of-kin is the one asking him to do it.
As one would expect in any thriller, the relatively simple task quickly snowballs out of control, leading Mayhem directly into the path of a playful serial killer. Strand mixes the comedy and dread flawlessly, and if the reader can abide some verbal gore they’ll likely enjoy the first story featuring Strand’s unlucky everyman.