New List of Books Trumpets Canada’s Rich Political History
(Library of Parliament reading room. Photo credit: Alejandro Erickson)
June 30, 2011 – Toronto – The Writers’ Trust of Canada and Samara are celebrating Canada’s 144th birthday by unveiling a list of the country’s finest books on political writing and asking citizens to vote on their favourites.
The Best Canadian Political Books of the Last 25 Years project draws attention to highly readable accounts of the issues and personalities that figure prominently in Canada’s history. They are original; they are informative; they make a significant and lasting impression. The list will be a resource for Canadians to learn about their political history and encourage readers to reflect on the contribution that these books make to our country’s great political debates.
The 12 finalists are:
- Stevie Cameron, On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years (1994)
- Stephen Clarkson and Christina McCall, Trudeau and Our Times, Volume 1: The Magnificent Obsession (1990) and Volume 2: The Heroic Delusion (1994)
- Andrew Cohen, While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World (2003)
- John Duffy, Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada (2002)
- Terry Fallis, The Best Laid Plans (2008)
- Ron Graham, One-Eyed Kings: Promise & Illusion in Canadian Politics (1986)
- Richard Gwyn, John A: The Man Who Made Us; The Life and Times of John A. MacDonald, Volume One (2007)
- Ezra Levant, Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (2009)
- Lawrence Martin, Harperland: The Politics of Control (2010)
- Christopher Moore, 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal (1997)
- John Ralston Saul, A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada (2008)
- Paul Wells, Right Side Up: The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper’s Conservatism (2006)
Canadian readers, along with a number of prominent citizens (including Pamela Wallin, Andrew Coyne, Anna Porter, Don Newman, Rosemary Barton, and Pat Carney, among others), supplied the nominations on which the list was built. To minimize overlap, we have performed a modest amount of curation.
Doubtless many Canadians will see more than one notable omission. We make no claim to be definitive. The list includes books on the personalities of our prime ministers, the unpredictable consequences of our great political contests, and the interplay of the press, politics, and public policy. But we do anticipate criticism: that our definition of “political" is narrowly defined and limited to that stretch between the Parliament Buildings and the Langevin Block; that in focusing on the quality of a book, we’ve missed a major figure or event; we’ve skewed too much towards the political party YOU strongly oppose; and, worst of all, that we’ve neglected your preferred Trudeau biography.
During the month of July we are asking Canadians to read books off the list, vote, and comment. Tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. Throughout the month we will speak with each author and get details about where the idea for their book came from and the book’s life since publication. Watch the Samara website to see these interviews. You have until the end of the August long weekend to have your say: polls will close August 1, 2011, at midnight. We’ll present the results that week.
“The literature on Canadian politics is forever expanding with scores of new books appearing each year,” said Alison Loat, co-founder and executive director, Samara. “This list is a resource for Canadians. We want to draw them to important works that identify and dissect the broad patterns of our developing political culture.”
“Canada has a wealth of talented and impressive political writers,” said Don Oravec, executive director, the Writers’ Trust of Canada. “These books are our recommendations to anyone who wants to better understand Canada, past, present, and future.”
Samara is a charitable organization whose programs seek to strengthen Canada’s democracy. Their work focuses on three areas: political leadership; the participation of citizens in public life; and public affairs journalism. Recently, Samara completed Canada’s first-ever systematic series of exit interviews with former Members of Parliament, and is currently developing a Democracy Index to annually measure the health of Canadian democracy.
About the Writers’ Trust
The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.
For more information contact:
Don Oravec, Writers’ Trust of Canada, 416-504-8222 x.244, firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Alison Loat, Samara, 416.960.7925, email@example.com