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If you like Rudolph Giuliani's story, you might also like:
David Boies,
Willie Brown,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
Larry King,
Norman Mailer,
Frank McCourt,
William McRaven,
Alan Simpson,
John Sexton,
Antonio Villaraigosa
and Andrew Young

Rudolph Giuliani's recommended reading: Profiles in Courage

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Bracewell Giuliani
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Rudolph Giuliani
Rudolph Giuliani
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Rudolph Giuliani Interview

Former Mayor of New York City

May 3, 2003
Washington, D.C.

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  Rudolph Giuliani

How did you first become interested in public service? Were there people in public service in your family?

Rudolph Giuliani: There were a lot of people in civil service in my family, meaning police officers, firefighters. Four of my uncles were police officers, one was a firefighter. So, some of my earliest memories were of them. So, I'm sure that had something to do with the desire for public service. The sort of feeling that if you work for the government, you can help a lot more people, which I think in some ways is the thing that inspires public service. You feel that you can make a bigger contribution to helping people. There are obviously other ways to do it, but one of the ways to do it is through public service.

What kind of student were you?

Rudolph Giuliani Interview Photo
Rudolph Giuliani: Mostly a good student, but there were lapses. There were some significant lapses. In high school, I remember having to sort of straighten myself out. I would consider it sporadic. There were times I was a good student and times I wasn't, and sometimes my biggest interest was baseball and not study. By college, I became a more serious student, and law school.

Did you always see yourself being a lawyer and going into public service, or were there other things you considered?

Rudolph Giuliani: No, no. I went through many, many, many possible careers that ranged from being a priest to a doctor to an Air Force pilot to a reporter, teacher, philosopher. I finally arrived on the idea of going to law school. I believe it was in my fourth year of college. So it was not something that consumed all my childhood. During most of my childhood, the things I thought of being the most, if people would ask the question "What are you going to be when you grow up?" was a doctor or a priest.

What about your parents? Were they supportive of your going into law?

Rudolph Giuliani: My parents were very, very supportive of getting a good education and then deciding what you want to do. They did not put a great deal of pressure on me to do any particular thing. Their feeling was that you should get a very good education, the best you can get, and then decide on doing something that will make you feel fulfilled, that will make you feel happy. And, I sort of developed the idea -- maybe with their influence and other people -- that you had to find something to do that you were good at, because if you are good at something, it's a lot easier to do it as work than when you are struggling with it. And, the reason I decided to remain a lawyer when I tried law school was I enjoyed it. For me, working on legal problems, writing about them, thinking about them, debating them, was very, very interesting, so I never regretted that decision. It has always been like an adventure for me, being a lawyer.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

Rudolph Giuliani Interview Photo
What was it you enjoyed about the law? Was it the opportunity to learn about so many different things?

Rudolph Giuliani: I found legal education fascinating because of the concentration on logic, trying to determine the logical answer to a problem. Obviously, that applies to law, but it also applies to the way you approach problems in life generally.

You try as best you can to find the rational solution to it, the thing that will work.

Were you a big reader when you were a kid? Are there books that you remember?

Rudolph Giuliani: Yes, I always enjoyed reading. That's a gift from my mother. My mother, from the time I was very young, would read books to me, actually show them to me and tell me things like, "You can travel around the world by reading books; you can relive any period in history by reading books; you can learn anything you need to learn by reading books." So I have always had, in addition to enjoying reading, a kind of fascination with books. So finally writing one was really wonderful. Once it was done and I could actually hold it in my hand, I felt I had finally done what my mother wanted me to do, which was not only to read a lot, but to finally get a book written.

We understand that you were a fan of Profiles in Courage by JFK. Did you read that early on?

Rudolph Giuliani: I read that book when it first came out. I must have been a high school student then. That was a very inspirational book for me, because it concentrated on political leaders acting like leaders and doing things that were unpopular at which they put their career at risk because of principle. And, I can remember saying many, many times over the course of the last 40 or 50 years, when people weren't doing that, "I guess they don't want a chapter in Profiles in Courage." I mean, the reality is that it really does define the highest form of political leadership, which is where your principles conflict with something that might be the best thing for you to do politically. And Profiles in Courage is about those who chose to do the thing they believed was the principled thing.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

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This page last revised on Apr 17, 2008 16:20 EDT
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