-Profile: Rudy Giuliani-

'It's going to be an aggressive year'

Rudy Giuliani has loved being mayor of New York, describing the job as "one of the most rewarding, one of the most fulfiling in the world". Born in Brooklyn 56 years ago, the grandson of Italian immigrants rose to fame as a fearless federal prosecutor, securing more than 4,000 convictions. Elected in 1993 as mayor, he was re-elected to a second seven-year term in 1997. His present, and final, term of office ends in December. His reputation has been built on cutting crime levels, restoring the city's financial health, renewing its attractiveness to both business and tourists, and introducing a 'workfare' programme for former welfare recipients, which is the biggest in the country.

The mayor's policies, including the unquestionably effective 'zero-tolerance' initiative towards crime, have been focused by his determination to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and his belief that "the most important civil right is the right to be safe". During his seven tumultuous, not to say controversial, years in office, crime has dropped to record lows and the city's economy has boomed. Critics argue that Mr Giuliani has largely ignored issues such as race relations, education and affordable housing, but even his political opponents admit that whoever succeeds him will have to build on what he has achieved. Mr Giuliani has been described as having a 'pit-bull personality'. The prophet of zero-tolerance has never suffered fools or critics gladly. Some thought they detected signs of a softer, more mellow image emerging last year, after he was forced to drop out of the Senate race with Hillary Clinton following his diagnosis with prostate cancer. He spoke freely of his illness and of the treatment he was receiving.

Last November, however, with his popularity higher than ever in the opinion polls, he reaffirmed his determination to crack down on anything and anyone who posed a threat to the New Yorkers' wellbeing. "The core of the turnaround of New York City has to do with public safety and quality of life, and we have to keep reminding ourselves of that. This is a work in progress; it's not something you ever complete," he declared. Mr Giuliani's success in taming New York has been taken as a model for emulation by civic leaders elsewhere. A recent visitor to Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official New York residence, was London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Emerging from a 'prayer breakfast' with Mr Giuliani and assorted American clergy, the former Red Ken, whose own political background could hardly be more different from his opposite number, described Mr Giuliani as "absolutely charming".

The prophet of 'zero-tolerance' has never suffered fools gladly

Last month it was announced that Mr Giuliani had signed a two-book deal worth at least $3 million, a record amount for a public official. The first book, to be published next year, will be a memoir giving what are promised to be "full and frank details" of his personal life, including his diagnosis with prostate cancer and the public collapse of his marriage. The second book will be a management and leadership guide, based on his New York experience. Ironically, the chosen publisher is Miramax Books, whose co-chairman Harvey Weinstein spent two years working vigorously to block

Mr Giuliani's political ambitions. Business appears to have overcome any former animosity, however, and following the announcement of the deal Weinstein paid the mayor a handsome tribute. "There has been no more towering figure in New York during the last decade than Rudy Giuliani," he said. "Diehard New Yorkers like me know that New York City is the capital of the world and he made life in the capital shine bright." In his final state-of-the-city address in January, Mr Giuliani promised no let up in the remaining months of his tenure of office. "It's going to be a very aggressive year and a very active one," he said. "We're going to turn this city over better, not worse, than how we found it." More lyrically, in the same address, he said it had been "like a gift to have another year as mayor".

He added: "I feel like Giuseppe Verdi when he sat down to write Falstaff (his last opera): he put in thousands of themes, which he didn't get to develop in other operas." Many of the proposals he has outlined extend beyond December 2001 when his period of office comes to an end. It is unclear whether they will be continued by his successor, who may well be a Democrat rather than a fellow Republican. Americans have, of course, not heard the last of Rudy Giuliani. Tipped for further high office, it remains to be seen what the future holds for him, but he is already making plans and looking for "something interesting… something that is creative… something that is fun… something that is enlightening".