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The Time of My Life
on March 12, 2011
I live in Vancouver and experienced first-hand the excitement that 'Patriot Hearts' is based on. I bought this book to relive the most amazing time of my life, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. John Furlong does a fantastic job telling us the story of what it took to organize this event; the competition for gold, power, and recognition. Visit my blog for video, pictures, and commentary on the 2010 Olympics at [...]
There are a number of passages in the book where I was on the verge of tears reliving what it was like during those 17 days. Furlong is an Irishman and he succeeds in telling a great story, presenting events in a way that rivets you to the book. I didn't want to put it down but had to sleep and work.
"Patriot Hearts" is a surprisingly inspirational book that describes what happens when you have the will to succeed. The super-human life that Furlong lived during those 17 days is a testament to the human spirit. I loved the devotion that Furlong describes in his obsession to detail and the view that these details are the linchpin to success. Furlong is the model Canadian citizen, community driven, visionary, hard working, ambitious, and although I haven't worked for the man, I get a sense of honesty from this guy.
The Olympics were an event that gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our passion for this country and dare I say it, our patriotism!! I have to catch myself as I'm expressing this in a typical Canadian fashion. I loved a passage in the book when during the national anthem John looks at his daughter to see tears running down her cheeks. I felt close to that level of pride while singing the anthem on our rapid transit trains (Sky Train) on our way to the Canada-Russia game or coming home after work on a night when Canada was playing. It was a great time to be alive in Vancouver.
Furlong was convinced the success of the games depended on touching kid's hearts all over the world but especially in Canada. He pursues this thread throughout the book and hits your emotions when he's describing the Torch relay through a Quebec Indian reserve and the priority the torch took over RCMP protocol. The reserve refused to have the RCMP on their land. The RCMP refused the torch unescorted on the reserve. Furlong got the torch on the reserve without the RCMP and the kids were happy!!
The visionary element in this book is a relentless force in "Patriot Hearts". Two examples are worth noting. For all of the criticism the NDP government took during the 90's, then Premier Glen Clarke had the vision and passion in his speech to win the games from Quebec City and Calgary during the bid process. Another example of the difference vision can make comes from Furlong's work as VANOC moved through the sponsorship process. Historical Canadian sponsorship levels were demolished by Bell's contribution. New standards in Canadian corporate support were set thanks to Furlong's passion and vision of what the games could be.
Finally, I realize the Vancouver Olympic CEO position requires devotion for success but the view that considers only the direct costs is narrow from a BC tax payer perspective. The Canada Line, Convention Centre, and Sea to Sky Highway improvement should be considered part of the Olympics. I recognize that there were federal government contributions on these projects which included BC taxpayer money among other provinces federal tax dollars. In the end I think the games were great because they enabled these developments and the international exposure the games brought to Vancouver. Some recognition of the indirect costs of these large infrastructure projects would leave a better feeling about the games. The decision not recognize these costs is understandable in achieving the support the games had during the Olympics. That's politics.
I highly recommend this book. Relive those magnificent 17 days. Read this book.