Last night, we aired my interview with Ezekiel Emanuel about his new book, Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family. As you may know, nationally prominent bioethicist “Zeke” is the oldest of the three Emanuel brothers, Rahm is the middle brother, and Hollywood super agent Ari is the youngest.
At twenty-five minutes, our interview with Zeke is longer than most author interviews. But given the insights into the mayor–and into his remarkable family–we thought it was worth the investment in time. Plus, Zeke is a great talker.
What the book says about the mayor: as a boy he was an underachiever, shy outside the house, stayed on the sidelines, he was an observer, a peacemaker. At one point, he was so slow to talk his parents were worried about his development and took him to a specialist who assured them that Rahm was fine — he just didn’t feel like talking much.
A game-changer: his near-death experience after he sliced his finger working at an Arby’s; it got infected and the ensuing sepsis put him in the hospital for six weeks. According to Zeke, Rahm was a changed person after this. His brush with death and realization of his own mortality lit a fire under him and made him impatient to accomplish things.
Another revelation: the remarkable freedom and independence given the Emanuel boys. Zeke writes that when the boys were six, four and three years old, they lived close to Foster Avenue beach in Chicago, and their mother would give them towels and beach toys and off they went without a parent. They would leave their apartment, cross Marine Drive, walk under Lake Shore Drive and spend hours at the beach–again, a six-year-old watching a four-year-old and three-year-old. Zeke acknowledges that no parent would get away with that today.
The author acknowledges there were topics the brothers agreed he should not include in the book. But if you want to get some insights into the family forces that helped shape Chicago’s mayor–including the hyper-vocal, hyper-competitive dinner table conversations, I invite you to watch our full interview. I think you’ll find it as engaging as I did.