By David J. Glenn
There’s something unexpected about the way outgoing Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik begins his just released autobiography, “The Lost Son — A Life in Pursuit of Justice” —
Light streams through the crack in the door. From the bed I hear voices on the other side and I desperately want it to be my mother or father… Light spills into the room and a woman’s voice stops me at the door. “Go on honey. Go back to bed.” But it’s not Mommy. It’s the woman who lives in this house. I have no idea who she is.”
It’s surprising that Kerik, the NYPD’s 40th police commissioner, sounds like he’s in a session with an analyst probing his childhood insecurities, instead of beginning with some tough police talk about his gritty career (although he does get to that a page later with: “Some [expletive] mutt in a tuxedo has stopped traffic by climbing to the top of the George Washington Bridge and threatening to jump…”).
In fact, it seems like Kerik — who included the Barnes & Noble store in Bayside last Friday evening among his speaking rounds and interviews — uses the book as a kind of self-therapy, exploring the fears and rejection he experienced as a child abandoned by a mother who spent time with men in bars and who died an early death in 1964.
If any in the crowds that lined up to see Kerik at the Bayside Terrace store expected to hear him elaborate on the book or to talk to him at length, were disappointed. Because some 300 people showed up, all that Kerik fit in was to sign each book — nothing personalized — and acknowledge the many well-wishes and compliments on his job as commissioner.
Kerik, who said weeks ago that he wouldn’t stay on as commissioner with a non-Giuliani administration, didn’t have time for an interview with Qguide, either, other than to respond to “What are your plans now?”
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”
It’s not likely he’ll have to worry about his next meal or anything. Largely because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center — which he describes in dramatic detail in the final chapter which he added shortly before the book went to press — Kerik has become internationally known. There’s little doubt that lucrative job offers and speaking engagements will pour in.
People waiting in line at Barnes & Noble — which was probably the safest spot in the city Friday evening with so many NYPD officers and detectives moving the lines along — expectedly had only good things to say about Kerik. “He did a terrific job,” said Beverly of Bayside, who didn’t want to give her last name.
“We’re sorry to see him go,” said another Bayside woman, who didn’t want to give her name at all.
The book is exciting. It gives a feel of the New York Police Department that even a show like “NYPD Blue” can’t fully convey — mainly because everything Kerik describes is quite real.
If the work ha any flaw, it’s Kerik’s not-so-subtle suggestion that he and Giuliani were really the only top officials with integrity and who pursued only justice, while the people who were battling to succeed Giuliani were only interested in politics and power.
Yet, the book is both interesting and important to read. It’s available at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores and online.