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When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada Hardcover – Nov 22 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada (Nov. 22 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307358267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307358264
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on Jan. 3 2012
Format: Hardcover
After months of listening to political drivel in the U.S. campaign to nominate a candidate to oppose the president, surely any other system of choosing a national leader is preferable.

Nope. Newman details how Canadians are equally clever in using very different politics to produce a landslide defeat based on the hubris of past success and the blinders of current arrogance. He knows how to infuriate politicians; he quotes them accurately and in enough context that they can't weasel out of gaffes, goofs and "Golly Gees!" with claims of misquotes. It gives him two great advantages; honesty allows him candid access to all who matter, including politicians, and in return he presents a complete "warts and all" picture.

Trust me, I've been there. Political campaigns are intense; success requires an astute candidate plus a dedicated staff willing to literally work around the clock. As Newman says, Michael Ignatieff began with these strengths until his campaign was taken over by good ol' boys wanting to cash in on easy glory.

This book is a post-mortem, like an analysis of why the Titanic sank. As with the Titanic, lessons learned mean big ships are still built and sail safely; the lessons of this book may well become a foundation garment to rebuild the Liberal Party. As an original supporter of John Diefenbaker and Dr. P. B. Rynard, I don't want Liberals to disappear; because the lasting success of Conservatives depends on the intelligence of a good opposition.

Without a good opposition to debate their politics, plans, policies and peccadillos, Conservatives will become a Canadian G.O.P. (Greedy Old Party).

Conservatives skillfully used American campaign techniques in 2011, a system imported by Liberals in the 1962 election.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Edward Roué on Dec 24 2012
Format: Hardcover
For a book that claims to be about something as broad and epochal as "The Death of Liberal Canada", it has a frustratingly narrow focus. Newman had the idea for this book before the 2011 election when he started following Ignatieff and conducting interviews for a book to be titled The Making of a Prime Minister about the man's rise to power. It seems like when that didn't quite pan out he re-purposed that material, added some segments about the history of the Liberal Party and rushed out the present book.

To Newman's credit, the book does have some interesting things to say about the party, and the insider account of Ignatieff's recruitment and time as Liberal leader are valuable, but I can't help feeling like I've been deceived by the book's title and marketing. It's a biography of Ignatieff and chronicle of his role in the party's history more than anything else. If that's what you're looking for, you'll enjoy this book. If it's not, it may still be worth a read as long as you don't come into it with any false expectations.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Nov. 24 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Two things to start with. This is probably four and a half-stars, but I went with four. In parts, and especially when referring to broader trends, I would have liked to have seen more factual evidence presented rather than people's comments and opinions. Second, in reviewing a book about a political party, I suppose I should note that I've voted Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Green in past elections. I really vote for who I think is best at that moment (or where my vote is most likely to be effective). I'm a pragmatist rather than a liberal or conservative. That said, pragmatism usually leads towards the center, the natural domain of the Liberal party. Given the shocking fortunes of the Liberal party in the last election, I thought it would be interesting to read more about how and why those events happened.

Peter Newman is a journalist who has had one-on-one access with all the past prime ministers, except for perhaps Harper. So he chose to follow and interview Ignatieff, whom he believed would be the next prime minister. Clearly, that didn't pan out. This book is an explanation of why that's so. There are really three causes. The first is that Iggy never really caught on to how the game was played. A relative newcomer to politics, he acted more like an academic, seeking truth and dialogue rather than emotions and selling points. The people around him were unable to give him the right advice or help him follow it. That left him badly stunted and looking awkward on camera. Surprisingly, he came away as a man without big ideas, despite the fact that as a professor he had written about some pretty big ideas. Newman reports some of his interviews with Iggy, who indeed comes across as more profound and interesting than he did on the political stage.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Palmer on Jan. 5 2013
Format: Hardcover
Peter Newman admitted it early, this was supposed to be a book about Ignatieff's rise to power; it was changed mid-stream as a result of the 2011 election. The result is a number of chapters with fascinating revelations about the inner workings of the Liberal party, particularly when pertaining to Ignatieff's recruitment, rise and defeat. However, there are also a number of chapters that come off as either out of place or shallow filler. The biographical elements delve too deep into Ignatieff's history and psyche. A biography of Prime Minister Ignatieff should probably include a discussion of his relationship with his father or a description of the family's summer home in France. An analysis of the decline of the Liberal Party, not so much.

I would definitely recommend this book to political junkies and anyone looking for a bit of insight into the Grits as they enter what may be their last leadership campaign. However, this is not the full and definitive account of the death (or near death) of Canada's natural governing party.
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