Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summer Reading

The Blogging Tories have a reading room up on their site (featuring...yes...Adam Smith).

Since I don't intend to read a ton of Milton Friedman anytime soon (unless the government makes me), I felt it might be a good idea to toss up a Liberal reading room. These are all books I've read over the past few years and enjoyed quite a bit. Feel free to recommend any others since I could use a little summer reading.


Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics by Warren Kinsella

From the Chapter's Review Page: "A complete waste of time. Kinsella is clinically insane." If you're Paul Martin or Stockwell Day, you might tend to agree with that review. Otherwise, you'll find it a fun read and you might even learn something about Canadian politics.

Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken

Absolutely brilliant! Franken turns the words of the American right against them...with hilarious consequences. The "Supply Side Jesus" cartoon is still one of the best pieces of political satire I've ever seen.

The Big Red Machine by Stephen Clarkson

Clarkson charts the Liberal Party's dominance from 1968 to 2004, through a series of election essays. Even Tories may like this one since Clarkson is often critical of the Liberal Party, and is downright vicious towards Turner and Martin.

Juggernaut by Susan Delacourt

This one makes for a more enjoyable read in 2006 than it did in 2003, because you can look back and try and find the signs and hints for all that went wrong during the Martin months in power.


The Antagonist by Lawrence Martin

One of the best political biographies I've ever read. Martin delves into every facet of Bouchard's life and comes out painting him as a mentally unstable individual with delusions of grandeur.

Straight from the Heart by Jean Chretien

A not too surprisingly folksy book which gives a lot of insight into what makes Jean Chretien tick. People often forget everything Chretien did before becoming PM and, truth be told, it's probably more interesting than what he did as Prime Minister.

Chretien: The Will to Win by Lawrence Martin

Martin also penned "The Iron Man" as a sequel and both are good reads although, as a Chretien fan, I'm partial to the first of the two.

My Life by Bill Clinton

If you have a few hundred hours to kill, the book makes for a fascinating read and you can learn a lot about American politics in the 80s and 90s. I'd recommend skipping the first 300 pages unless you're really curious about what lessons Bill Clinton learned in Grade 9 band camp.

Pierre by Nancy Southam

There are a million books about Trudeau the politician you can read and, truth be told, none of them have ever stood out to me above the rest. The reason I include this one on my list is that it looks into the personal side of Trudeau's life and has anecdotes provided by a wide range of people from Jimmy Carter to Barbara Streisand.


Fights of our Lives by John Duffy

Far be it from me to speak glowingly of any members of the Board, but John Duffy does a good job charting key elections in Canadian history. The pictures and battle plans he includes add a lot to the book.

Bastards & Boneheads by Will Ferguson

Trudeau was a bastard. Clark was a bonehead. I'd say the jury is still out on Harper, but he's looking more like a "bastard" so far. This book is just funny and a good way to read up on Canadian history for those who aren't big on academic reads.

Egotists and Autocrats by George Bowering

Another piece of non-fiction which makes for an enjoyable read. Bowering's prelude to the Mulroney chapter where he tells the story of wanting to replace the entire chapter with "the less said about this, the better", is hilarious and he does a good job mixing in poems, jokes, and anecdotes. Bonus marks for giving equal ink to the Mackenzies, Tuppers and Bowels (that one came out kind of wrong...d'oh) of the world.


  • For insight into the west's trials and tribulations in the Middle East, I recommend Robert Fisk's, "Pity the Nation". Have not read his latest opus. Malcolm Gladwell's, "Blink" was an entertaining read and "Nelson's Purse" by Martyn Downer is a must read for cool Britannia enthusiasts.

    By Blogger Omar, at 2:04 p.m.  

  • Big Red Machine was a big disappointment to me, however I add endorsements to Kicking Ass..., Juggernaut and Fights of Our Lives.

    I would also add Think Big by Preston Manning and how can any political book club be complete without The Secret Mulroney Tapes?

    By Blogger The Hack, at 2:14 p.m.  

  • BRM is more of an essay/academic read, I'll certainly concede that.

    The Mulroney tapes have been on my list for a long time but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:23 p.m.  

  • meanwhile, back in the real world, the Liberal Party of Canada uses power tools to dig their grave deeper & deeper

    Liberals refuse to investigate Volpe donations

    The national Liberal Party said yesterday it has no reason to investigate donations to leadership candidate Joe Volpe from current and former executives of a generic drug firm and their relatives, but some Liberal MPs said they have qualms about accepting money from minors.

    Wooo Hoooo . . . . gonna be a great wake

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 p.m.  

  • I enjoy the mental image of a young Conservative on the beach in a 3 piece suit, drinking a Belini and enjoying some summer Fredrick Hayek reading.

    I have to also say that the Politics of Ambition is another great politcal book. Plus with we Liberals going into a leadership convention I think we can learn from Brian Mulroney's excellent use of homeless people as delegates.

    Joe Volpe is taking notes as we speak!

    By Blogger polarslam, at 2:32 p.m.  

  • Adam Smith is an esential read for anyone who proposes to know anthing about politics today. Every political philosophy leads to another or an antithetical philosophy.

    Don't dis the classics. Your reading list is far too shallow and navel gazing to be of much real or insightful use for developing an analytical analysis of political dogma, tactics and effects.

    By Blogger S.K., at 2:35 p.m.  

  • By Blogger Kyle Olsen, at 3:06 p.m.  

  • The classics are good to, on my summer list is Democracy in America
    by Alexis De Tocqueville

    It is an 1830s look on the religous movement existent in America.

    By Blogger Kyle Olsen, at 3:07 p.m.  

  • If you're interested in the changing nature of civic engagement, then I'd recommend "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam. It is focused on the US, but I think is also applicable in Canada.

    By Blogger Robert, at 3:08 p.m.  

  • La biographie de Lucien Bouchard, écrite par Lawrence Martin,une bonne lecture? Un peu de sérieux s.v.p! Un coup parti, pourquoi ne pas suggérer des lectures de Diane Francis?

    Si vous voulez lire quelque chose d'un peu plus crédible quant à la vie politique de Lucien Bouchard, le livre de Michel Vastel s'impose de lui-même : Lucien Bouchard : en attendant la suite. (Éditeur Lanctôt, 1996)

    Il y a aussi celui de André-Philippe Côté et Michel David : Les années Bouchard (2001).

    Mentally unstable ? Très drôle. Lawrence Martin est-il devenu psychiatre?

    By Blogger Vincent, at 4:14 p.m.  

  • I'm going to echo the "too shallow" comment above. I actually read "On Liberty" last month and enjoyed it. I think Machiavelli "The Prince" is a must read, and you can get it free on the internet. Adam Smith is the foundation of modern economics, but "incisive prose?" Wasn't he sort of rambling? An introductory microeconomics text will tell you most of what you need to know, and more than Smith ever figured out.

    I don't think it would hurt to have some economics in the liberal reading list, too. I don't understand why people associate it with conservatives.

    It's be nice to get some political theory in there, too. I haven't read anything that I'd recommend, though. Anyone else?

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 4:20 p.m.  

  • After doing a lot of "heavy reading" at University, I generally prefer the lighter reads.

    But feel free to suggest some good classics and theoretical ones too - I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy taking a look at them.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:34 p.m.  

  • Paris 1919 is a good one to own.

    By Blogger noone, at 5:22 p.m.  

  • Nice to see that free market economics is useless for a Liberal, but masturbatory ghost written biographies are very important.

    I suggest also getting a NOLS camping guide, since you'll be spending a long, long, long time in the wilderness!

    By Blogger Hey, at 5:56 p.m.  

  • Hayek and his protege Friedman. Suprised they overlooked Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Carl Schmitt, and Leo Straus. Overall a pretty weak list even for a bunch of conservatives.

    By Blogger steephill, at 6:30 p.m.  

  • I picked up Warren's book at a second hand shop last summer. Based on reading it, I DON'T think he's insane... he's figured out a lot about politics in Canada, and politicians ignore its lessons at their peril.

    A REALLY interesting read. I've become a fan of his, and I'm looking forward to any other political works he puts out.

    By Blogger Christian Conservative, at 7:24 p.m.  

  • Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil. Not only to understand what happened in Rwanda, but to get an idea of the inner workings (or lack therof) of the UN.

    By Blogger pheenster, at 7:44 p.m.  

  • "Postwar" by Tony Judt is on my to-read list. Finally finished Robert Dallek's "An Unfinished Life," one of the better biographies I've read on JFK. I'm still trying to plow through "Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy." Anything by Niall Ferguson who, despite his deep love of the British Empire (ahem), is nothing if not thorough in his research, provocative as it is.

    As for fiction, I just finished "Legends" by Robert Littel, and I'm working on "Market Forces" by Richard Morgan. It's a sci-fi (not big on those, but this one is cool).

    Anything by Robert Kaplan. I'm looking forward to Imperial Grunts, his study of the American military in its present form as Bush aims to expand US imperialism.

    By Blogger YukonGrit, at 10:23 p.m.  

  • I'm quite familiar with Bastards and Boneheads, it's a personal favourite of mine on Canadian politics, and you're absolutely wrong - Harper is one hundred percent Bastard, and no jury is out on him. What a terrific surprise to see you include this wonderful book!

    By Blogger Lois, at 11:27 p.m.  

  • An interesting thing, the Blogging Tories used Amazon, and you used Chapters Indigo.

    Who are the real Canadian Patriots?

    By Blogger Kyle Olsen, at 1:33 a.m.  

  • To throw a slightly odd choice out there, I'd recomend Duceppe's "Question D'Identité" as an interesting view of Quebec sovereignty. I'm currently reading it and while I don't agree with a lot of his views it's still a very interesting book.

    By Blogger A View From The Left, at 12:42 p.m.  

  • Insofar as economics is concerned, a good pick is "The Efficient Society" by Joseph Heath. I have a few issues with it, but it's an excellent (and convincing) response to the orthodox free marketers. I'd also take issue with the Blogging Tories seeming attempt to claim some classics of political philosophy of them - "On Liberty" is worthy of anyone's attention.

    By Blogger JG, at 3:12 p.m.  

  • Thanks, CG, I'll definitely check some of those out.

    By Blogger Yining Su, at 5:24 p.m.  

  • Do you actually confine your reading to those books that reinforce your beliefs?

    You'll never make a conservative!

    By Blogger Patrick, at 8:09 p.m.  

  • With all the books floating around here someone has forgotten to mention John Rawls "Theory of Justice."
    A long read but with some very interesting ideas.

    By Blogger Keegan, at 1:53 p.m.  

  • With all the books floating around here someone has forgotten to mention John Rawls "Theory of Justice."
    A long read but with some very interesting ideas.

    By Blogger Keegan, at 1:54 p.m.  

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  • money market books what about market books Here it is now its up to you...

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