Right Side Up
For those who don't already know the gist of Right Side Up, it's a summary of Canadian federal politics from 2003 to present day, framed as the clash between Stephen Harper and Paul Martin Jr. The book jumps back and forth between the two men and while I don't believe there were any direct interviews with either of the protagonists, we see a lot of analysis from the strategists close to them. Which is a good thing since this is a book on political strategy and maneuvering rather than an academic analysis of elections you'd see in something like Big Red Machine. And there certainly is a lot of talk about maneuvering, from internal Liberal feuding to Tory market analysis and election strategy.
I think the main lesson to be taken from the book is that the Scouts have been on to something with their "Be Prepared" motto. After reading the book, you get the sense is that the Tories lost in 2004 because they just weren't ready to fight a campaign. In 2006, it was the Liberals who weren't prepared for an early election whereas the CPC had a tightly choreographed campaign down to the hour...until the last two weeks when Harper ran out of messaging and things went sour, likely costing him a majority. Liberals eager for a spring non-confidence vote would be wise to remember what happens to parties who are rushed into elections.
As for the writhing itself, if you like Inkless Wells, you'll like this book. It's written in the same style you see on the blog and reads like a collection of lengthy posts slapped together. Of course, if you don't like Wells' writing style then this probably isn't the book for you and I imagine the Bob Rae books are going to be really marked down for obvious reasons so maybe that's the one you should pick up.
The one knock I would give the book is that it goes on too long. Not in terms on length - I could have read another hundred pages easily. What I mean is that the book should have ended after Harper's win on January 23rd and been left with a quick epilogue. Instead we see lengthy analysis of Harper's first months and the Liberals return to the wilderness. It's not that this isn't interesting material, it's just that it's too soon to get any meaningful interpretation of what it all means. The two things which really stick out is the talk of Harper's environmental strategy and the Liberal leadership race - Wells' analysis is already out of date by the time the books hit the store shelves and not just because it took so long for the books to hit the store shelves in many cities. The book was about Harper's rise and Martin's fall and I think the post-election chapters should have been saved for the sequel (The Rise of Stephane Dion and the Fall of Stephen Harper?).