Cover image for The prophet of love : and other tales of power and deceit
The prophet of love : and other tales of power and deceit
Kolbert, Elizabeth.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed by Holtzbrinck Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
275 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Articles originally published in the New Yorker and Mother Jones.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.56 .K65 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert dissects the body politic in these incisive-and often hilarious-portraits of the people who make New York City run.

As a reporter for The New York Times and then the The New Yorker , Elizabeth Kolbert has had unparalleled access to the inner workings of the country's most complex and fascinating city. In the acclaimed profiles assembled here, Kolbert talks to politicians and policemen, bureaucrats and radicals, celebrities and demagogues. She follows some on their heady ascent to greatness and others as they fall from grace, all the while questioning how power is attained, and then, just as often, squandered.

Kolbert writes about such classic New York characters as Boss Tweed, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, and Rudolph Giuliani. She reveals the machinations of city power in a provocative piece about the Amadou Diallo shooting and takes an unforgettably disgusting look at the work of city restaurant inspectors. And she investigates the influence of several private citizens, including Weather Underground member Kathy Boudin, the always controversial Al Sharpton, and Regis Philbin at the height of his fame.

Written during a defining period in the city's history-one that encompasses the Bloomberg mayoral campaign, the Clinton-Giuliani senatorial race, and September 11th- The Prophet of Love is a witty and eye-opening debut from one of our most fiercely intelligent writers.

Author Notes

Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer for The New Yorker. Her series on global warming, The Climate of Man, won the American Association for the Advancement of Science's magazine writing award and a National Academies communications award. She is a two-time National Magazine Award winner. She has written several books including Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The people Kolbert profiles in this collection--all but one of the pieces were written for the New Yorker--seem mostly unlovable. Reading Kolbert is like listening to a particularly crystalline conversationalist: complete sentences, often incisive commentary, but not a shred of humor or warmth. She is great reading, though, because she can make the inherently uninteresting (New York governor George Pataki) come across as compelling, or even the inherently interesting but wildly off the wall (Al Sharpton) worthy of serious consideration. In between, she writes about Hillary Rodham Clinton (twice), Rudy Giuliani (he's the source of the title, when he announced his cancer and his redemption by the love of a woman not his wife), Michael Bloomberg, and Boss Tweed in the Politics section. Impolitics puts Kathy Boudin, Regis Philbin, and Howell Raines under her shining, relentless microscope. This will have great appeal for New Yorkers, of course, but will also draw readers interested in looking deeply at well-known personalities. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

New Yorker staff writer Kolbert's collection of graceful and perceptive articles focusing on New York public figures reminds us how much has changed since the late 1990s. Part one, titled "Politics," includes a piece on Hillary Clinton, "Running on Empathy," reflecting the animosity that many felt for the carpetbagging former First Lady when she entered the New York State senate race. Kolbert atones later in "The Student," about Clinton as a hardworking senator. Kolbert is at her best in the timeless articles she penned in the aftermath of 9/11 about Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Fire Chief William Feehan, who died as a result of the attacks. In her introduction, Kolbert notes that "political life is often indistinguishable from nonsense," and proves it in her illuminating account of Mark Green's losing mayoral campaign (about his primary win, she writes, "Between the fawning and the gloating, the self-promotion and the perfunctory humility, victory celebrations are rarely tasteful affairs"). In part two, "Impolitics," she trains her considerable intelligence and wit on such New York notables as TV host Regis Philbin, former Times executive editor Howell Raines and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Anyone interested in power and personalities in present-day New York will be well pleased. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (May 14) FYI: All but one of these articles first appeared in the New Yorker. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part I Politics
The Charisma of No Charisma: Governor George Patakip. 7
The Perils of Safety: The New York City Police Departmentp. 15
Running on Empathy: Hillary Clintonp. 24
Personal and Political: Mayor Rudolph Giulianip. 33
The Prophet of Love: Mayor Rudolph Giulianip. 42
The Inside Game: Congressman Charles Rangelp. 49
In Charge: Mayor Rudolph Giulianip. 63
The Chief: Fire Chief William Feehanp. 66
The Long Campaign: Mark Green and the 2001 New York City mayoral racep. 77
The Mogul Mayor: Mayor Michael Bloombergp. 86
The Fellowship of the Ring: Boss Tweedp. 106
Everyone Lies: New York City restaurant inspectorsp. 115
Six Billion Short: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York budget crisisp. 123
Accountants in the Sky: The New York State Legislaturep. 132
The Student: Senator Hillary Clintonp. 143
Part II Impolitics
Stormin' Norman: Norman Siegelp. 171
Common Man: Regis Philbinp. 181
The Prisoner: Kathy Boudinp. 195
The Unfashionable Mr. Lam: Wing Lamp. 219
The Calculator: Kenneth Feinbergp. 229
Tumult in the Newsroom: Howell Rainesp. 241
The People's Preacher: Reverend Al Sharptonp. 252
Acknowledgmentsp. 276