The brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel relates the history of his family’s classic immigrants-make-good American story.
Ezekiel Emanuel’s memoir is ostensibly the story of how he and his brothers, Rahm and Ari, developed their unique personalities and talents over the years. The author became a respected research scientist specializing in bioethics, his brother Ari, a successful talent agent, and his brother Rahm worked for the Clinton campaign in 1992 and eventually became Barack Obama’s chief of staff. Yet despite the brothers' ambitions in their respective fields, they aren't the ones whose lives make for the most interesting focal point in the book: It’s the parents who actually lived the memoir-worthy lives. The father, Ben, was a direct participant in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, interrupting his medical studies to act as an amateur secret agent and then joining the Israeli artillery in the fight against the Egyptians. After the war, he finished medical school in Switzerland before coming to America to set up his practice. Their mother was a staunch left-wing activist in the 1960s; she brought her sons to some of the most heated political protests in Chicago. Comparatively, the early life that Ezekiel and his brothers led in the Chicago suburbs was fairly comfortable and middle-class, with all three brothers going to expensive, exclusive colleges on their father’s dime and studiously sticking to the straight-and-narrow path to professional success. In fact, the most exciting thing that happened to the author came while studying in England: He was jailed in Oxford for supposedly resisting arrest while breaking bike safety laws.
Well-written and heartfelt but short on dramatic moments and memorable anecdotes.