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Oliver's Twist: The Life and Times of an Unapologetic Newshound [Hardcover]

Craig Oliver
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 25 2011


As chief parliamentary correspondent for CTV News, Craig Oliver is one of Canada’s most recognized and respected journalists, a newsman who has reported on the major political figures and news stories of our times with passion, insight, and bracing candour.
He brings those same qualities to this many-layered memoir of an extraordinary professional and personal life. The only child of two alcoholics, he spent his childhood and adolescence in the homes of strangers. A chance summer job with the local CBC station launched his broadcasting career, taking Oliver from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Ottawa, Washington, and Central America. He witnessed up close the follies, foibles and occasional brilliance of the men and women who shaped our history over four decades.
At the same time, Oliver pursued a personal passion for Canada’s wilderness rivers. For 30 years, he and a close company of companions—all political and media figures, from Tim Kotcheff and John Macfarlane to Eddie Goldenberg and Pierre Trudeau—paddled some of the remotest waters in western and northern Canada.
Most surprising is the revelation that this comfortable television presenter has been legally blind for a decade.

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“Full of wit, an astute insider’s insights, and candour.” - Toronto Star

“An exhilarating inside look ride through decades of Canadian politics and history…. His anecdotes are amazing…. Oliver’s Twist is superb stuff, proving again that a word is worth 1,000 TV clips.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“A storehouse of insights, anecdotes, and eye-popping close-ups that makes for a strappingly good book.” - Lawrence Martin, author of Harperland

“Having covered and worked closely with Canadian leaders over the past half-century, [Oliver] is able to give a candid and insightful assessment of leading political figures…. This book details the Craig Oliver we all know; someone not afraid to take on tough issues, but who does so in the most genuinely respectful fashion—a true gentleman and a great Canadian. Oliver’s Twist is an enjoyable read, one I highly recommend.” - John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs), The Globe and Mail

“A book at once human and sharp…. It is Ottawa that stars here, and Oliver brims with insight into its’ great figures…. [Oliver] injects emotion into his taut, lively prose. He also generates laughs.” - Maclean’s

“Every young reporter should be inspired by Craig Oliver's book, Oliver’s Twist.” - Jim Munson (Liberal senator), The Montreal Gazette

“A fascinating chronicle of a life that moved from the hard streets of 1940s Prince Rupert to a place near the top of the CTV News totem pole. Oliver … pulls few punches.” - Canadian Press --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author


CRAIG OLIVER is currently Chief Parliamentary Correspondent for CTV and co-host of its weekly political affairs program Question Period. He has received the highest awards granted by his profession: the prestigious Charles Lynch Award; the Canadian Association of Broadcasters 2001 Gold Ribbon for Broadcast Excellence; the President’s Award for excellence in Canadian broadcast journalism from the Radio and Television News Directors Association; the Broadcast Hall of Fame award from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters; and two Gemini Awards. Since 1999, Oliver has been legally blind.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Your Time Nov. 26 2011
By Holden
It is a quite personal memoir, listing at least some of his major family difficulties and a few moments of inner turmoil. His failing eyesight is also detailed and the efforts he has made to deal with it. It is a interesting book and well-worth reading if you have any interest in politics or journalism.

Much of the book concerns the news stories and the newsmakers he covered and/or came to know personally. What I found most surprising was how many politicians and those involved in politics that he befriended and spent much time with. Although Mr. Oliver says it to be inevitable and common, it seems unnatural and improper, and he admits that he had difficulties at times with such arrangements.

Another oddity, on page 262, is when he writes of how many lobbyists were in the Paul Martin government and how calling the PMO to ask for certain person in the employ of the government he was transferred directly to the reception desk at a prominent lobbying firm.

My favourite quote from the book is likely the following;

"Unmediated news coverage today is ubiquitous and caveat emptor the consumer's only protection. Those of us in the serious-news business can only hope that the public will learn to distinguish between the real thing and the offerings of talk-show barkers, internet snake-oil salesmen, and political hacks."

Mr. Oliver has praise for most of the politicians he has worked with over the decades, although he also has makes some pointed remarks. He labelled some of the Conservative party advertisements of past elections "outright falsehoods."

Oliver's Twist is not a literary masterpiece and there are no great revelations included about public figures. However, I was impressed with Mr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver's Twist by Craig Oliver Jan. 20 2013
By David Heming TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A lovely tale. A soothing bed-time story. A long story from grandpa. Why am I smiling ? These are this reviewers immediate reactions to Craig Oliver's 343 page book on his long---and for the most part---interesting professional and personal life. Anyone who has paid attention---even minimally---to politics over the past several decades "knows" Craig Oliver from his journalism work on television. This memoir is a very easy-to-read and enjoyable piece of work.
Charming remembrances of his early life in Western Canada are lightly laced with humour and wit which makes them fun to read in what might otherwise be tiresome and dull. His early experiences with the CBC, and then CTV, provide historical insights into his long career in television journalism. The author's reminiscing about co-workers, other associates, and politicians from his early career---and some may call it simply name-dropping---serves to create a nostalgic "spark" for those of us who have been around for awhile : Tommy Douglas; John Diefenbaker; Joe Schlesinger; Knowlton Nash; Tom Gould; Harvey Kirck; Bruce Phillips; among many others. And from Oliver's more recent work well-known names such as Lloyd Roberstson; Pamela Wallin; Sandie Rinaldo; Kevin Newman; Lisa LaFlamme; Robert Fife; Preston Manning; and many others make cameo appearances.
Oliver is at his insighful best in his treatment of Pierre Trudeau (his favourite politician by far); Jean Chretien; Paul Martin; Stephane Dion; Michael Ignatieff ; and Steven Harper. This forthright and pleasantly candid book will be of interest to those stimulated by television journalism, a quick history of two television networks (CBC & CTV); past and present political figures; the often sharp edge between news reporters and politicians; and other details of a long-standing and highly regarded parlimentary correspondent for CTV news.
David Heming
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring success story Feb. 21 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an amazing story of a man whose early life was difficult to say the least! It is a truly inspiring story of determination and courage.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Oliver's Twist Oct. 31 2013
By lainey
This books was chosen as a selection for my book club to read this month. It's a wonderful read, full of Canadiana, sent me to google maps of the areas of the many canoe trips...most of which I couldn't find but it was fun anyway. The only thing missing was photos. I would like to have seen photos of the men in canoes, the vistas, the rivers, as well as photos of the men and women politicians and broadcasters, etc. whom he writes about. Many of the names are familiar, but hard to put a face to names in some cases. A very enjoyable time reading this memoir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read Sept. 13 2013
By sandra
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book.Through Crag Olivers eyes ,we see the Canadian elections unfold.He reminds us of things long forgotten.
Thank you.
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