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Right Side Up: The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper's New Conservatism [Paperback]

Paul Wells
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 6 2007
The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper’s New Conservatism.

Shakespeare isn’t around to write it — so we have Paul Wells!

Think of it. Two men on an opposite yet parallel trajectory. In the space of only three years, one man, a huge success as the Minister of Finance, goes from his new role as the leader of an all-powerful party with a huge majority all the way down to a retired also-ran. The other one reluctantly steps in to salvage a dying party, links it to another dying party, “unites the right,” becomes its leader, goes through trying times, and inside three years rises to become prime minister, against all odds.

It’s an amazing drama, told here in three acts. First, Paul Wells takes us through all of the events (from Martin’s assassination of Chrétien onward) that led up to the election campaign of January 2006.

The second act deals with the campaign itself, where the Harper armies conquered, with the assistance of an RCMP cavalry raid, and less-than-brilliant opposing campaigns: “We’re not allowed to make this stuff up.” Full of new, amazing inside details.

The final part answers the What now? that so many Canadians are asking about Stephen Harper’s "new conservatism." Nobody can answer that question better than Paul Wells. Witty, irreverent, opinionated, personal, and very, very funny, this book launches Wells’s career as an author.

From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Right Side Up: The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper's New Conservatism + The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006-
Price For Both: CDN$ 36.66

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Product Details

Product Description


“Wells tells both sides of the story in his trademark style — bright, breezy, accessible, irreverent and insightful.”
Montreal Gazette

“This is a most readable book by one of the country’s most original journalists.”
Globe and Mail

“A feast for the politically inclined.”
London Free Press

“Wells is lucid, funny, revealing, opinionated and sometimes wickedly snarky.”
National Post

About the Author

Born in Sarnia, Paul Wells has worked for the Montreal Gazette, and as a columnist for the National Post. He is now Maclean’s chief Ottawa correspondent, and a frequent panelist and speaker.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Many ups, but also has many downs... Dec 31 2006
By Mike514
For those familiar with Paul Wells' articles and addicted to his blog (myself included), you will enjoy this book. His style of sharp, funny, and insightful comments has translated fairly well into book form. For anyone else, it can go either way...

There are down sides to this book: His section on "groupthink" reads too much like a rushed college essay and seems out of place. His interviews with Liberal leadership hopefuls are dry. I was also hoping for more discussion on Paul Martin the prime minister, and not just Paul Martin the election campaigner.

My biggest problem with this book: His trademark negative sarcasm gets a little tiresome around halfway through the book. This attitude is fine for a short blog posting or a one-page article, but it's harder to tolerate throughout an entire book.

Nonetheless, despite all the downs, Wells does a fair job at summarizing the change from a Liberal government to a Tory one.

Finally, please don't call Wells a liberal/left-winger. He treats both sides with equal scorn and praise when it's merited. This book is not unfairly biased.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Canadian Politics book of 2006 May 22 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Maclean's Magazine columnist Paul Wells ably demonstrates why he merits his status as one of the leading scribes in Canadian political writing. His stories are accessible and his prose is light, though at times the collegial tone feels a bit forced. Overall he has written a book that is a very easy read both for the dilettante and the professional. Yet, his book packs real weight. Right Side Up is full of information you will find nowhere else about Paul Martin's fall and Stephen Harper's ascension.

Wells begins his book immediately after the narrow win of the Liberals in the 2004 federal election against the new Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper. Though the Liberals maintained power, they lost seats - yet Martin treated the election as a victory and did virtually nothing to change or improve his team or their message for the next election. That was because from his perspective, Martin and his team had been building for this moment since his 1990 leadership loss to Jean Chrétien. Why should anything change? It was this inertia that set Martin and the Liberals up for their mediocre 2006 election results and Martin's subsequent resignation from politics.

Those who remember the Federal election of 2004 will remember that the election was in fact a very near thing for the Liberals in spite of their eventual victory. Three weeks before the election, Harper's new Conservative Party was ahead in the polls but seemingly ran out of script. This loss of momentum allowed the Liberals to run a very effective scare campaign that gave them a surge in the last weeks of the campaign, largely by convincing soft NDP voters to vote Liberal because the thought of a Stephen Harper victory was worse than the thought of continued Liberal government.
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I considered the extensive magazine article in Macleans to be very informative and was delighted to hear that a book was coming out. I've always had a fascination for Canadian politics, but the past dozen years have been particularly interesting. Perhaps there isn't much of a market for books on politics in Canada, but I for one want to encourage more. Paul Wells is a splendid writer, and I believe he is unfailingly fair. I'm know he has his own take on everything, sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't. But I've learnt something every time I read him, and I hope he keeps writing books.

If you are interested in Canadian politics, definitely pick up a copy of this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint June 13 2013
By Dennis
For my money, this is one of the best books I've read on Canadian politics (and I've read quite a few). I always enjoy reading Wells' columns, and I was not disappointed by this book. One reviewer took stars away because of Wells' "trademark negative sarcasm" being maintained (and becoming tiresome) throughout the entire book. This is certainly a fair point, but personally I enjoyed his barbs. His criticisms are sharp and insightful, and made this a page-turner for me. I'm anxiously awaiting the next one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Right Side Two Thumbs Up Nov. 18 2006
Informative, humorous and very engaging. This book provides a fantastic narrative of Canadian federal politics in the young 21st century, through the lens of two competitors: Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. Wells offers a detailed, behind-the-scenes story laced with his unique brand of insight and wit.
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