Three Jewish brothers, all highly successful in their own right, are the subject of a new memoir about their lives and careers. The brothers are the Emanuels – Rahm, 53, the former White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago; Ari, 51, a hotshot Hollywood agent whose flamboyant style inspired Jeremy Piven’s character Ari Gold on Entourage; and Ezekiel (“Zeke”), 55, a bioethicist who heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family (Random House) is written by oldest brother Zeke and tells their story of growing up in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s. All three boys were highly competitive as they strived to distinguish themselves as individuals. The book also tells the story of the entire Emanuel clan: the tough, colorful Old World grandparents; a mischievous, loving father who immigrated to the United States with twenty-five dollars and who enthralled his boys with tales of his adventures in Israel’s war for independence; and a proud, politically engaged mother who took the boys with her to rallies and protests – including a civil rights march through the streets of Chicago led by Martin Luther King himself.
Ari, the youngest brother, suffered from dyslexia but was great at sales even as a kid. He sold slices of his mother’s cheesecake at school. “Many people might be surprised it is Ari, who was so manic as a kid, who is most thoughtful and deeply psychological in his approach to life,” writes Zeke.
The book tells us that Ari accomplishes his role as agent-in-chief through “aggression, humor, profanity and impulsivity that would have been ruinous in most other realms but was completely acceptable and effective in the realm of egos and make-believe that is Hollywood.”
Ari loves golf and weight lifting, while middle brother Rahm is a swimmer, cyclist, and former ballet dancer.
If you’re looking for some juicy reading, the chapter on the brothers’ college years shares that Ari was “never shy” about dating women.
“As the most handsome and charming of us all, he would have an adventuresome single life” before getting married to wife Sarah Addington, according to the book.
Zeke, who is also an oncologist and health care adviser to President Obama, admits he was something of a jerk when he first arrived at Amherst, writing, “Not surprisingly, given my family of origin, I began many relationships there with arguments. I considered this perfectly normal. As it turned out, hardly anyone else felt the same way.”
Rahm, the first Jewish mayor of Chicago, was encouraged by his mother to take ballet lessons as a boy and is a graduate of the Evanston School of Ballet, as well as a student of The Joel Hall Dance Center, where his children later took lessons. He won a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet, but turned it down to attend Sarah Lawrence College, a liberal arts school with a strong dance program. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, and went on to receive a Master of Arts in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985.
The three brothers remain incredibly close. “No one is more critical of me than my brothers,” Zeke writes, “but no one is more supportive and loyal. The bond we formed together is unbreakable.”
With one family producing three hugely successful sons, Zeke says he is often asked, “What did your mom put in the cereal?”
Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family hits bookstores March 26.
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