Fire and Ashes

Fire and Ashes

Success and Failure in Politics

Book - 2013
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In 2005 Michael Ignatieff left his life as a writer and professor at Harvard University to enter the combative world of politics back home in Canada. By 2008, he was leader of the country's Liberal Party and poised--should the governing Conservatives falter--to become Canada's next Prime Minister. It never happened. Today, after a bruising electoral defeat, Ignatieff is back where he started, writing and teaching what he learned.

What did he take away from this crash course in political success and failure? Did a life of thinking about politics prepare him for the real thing? How did he handle it when his own history as a longtime expatriate became a major political issue? Are cynics right to despair about democratic politics? Are idealists right to hope? Ignatieff blends reflection and analysis to portray today's democratic politics as ruthless, unpredictable, unforgiving, and hyper-adversarial.

Rough as it is, Ignatieff argues, democratic politics is a crucible for compromise, and many of the apparent vices of political life, from inconsistency to the fake smile, follow from the necessity of bridging differences in a pluralist society. A compelling account of modern politics as it really is, the book is also a celebration of the political life in all its wild, exuberant variety.

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2013.
Edition: First Harvard University Press edition.
ISBN: 9780674725997
Characteristics: xiii, 205 pages ; 22 cm


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kbo90 Mar 14, 2015

Ignatieff comes off looking like a compassionate, caring individual - which his book says is exactly what got in the way of him becoming the Prime Minister. Is it true? I'm not sure, but none the less I enjoyed this romp through Ignatieff's years in Canadian politics a great deal.

Dec 29, 2014

A must read. Even though this book follows Federal politics, it most definitely applies to local civic Vancouver politics. (NPA candidate's "standing" was attacked by Vision for : living outside of Van, for example) Attacking an opponents "standing" instead of platform was articulated with precision.

SCLOWATER May 20, 2014

Fairly interesting book. Easy read.

Oct 30, 2013

Very well written, with many candid insights and admissions to his faults and personal responsibilty for his defeat. Should be mandatory reading for all politicans and political wannabes of all political parties and at all levels of Cdn government from City Hall to Parliment Hill.


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AnarchyintheLC Jan 12, 2016

While a painter's medium is paint, a politician's medium is time: he must adapt, ceaselessly, to its sudden, unexpected and brutal changes. An intellectual may be interested in ideas and policies for their own sake, but a politician's interest is exclusively in the question of whether an idea's time has come. When we call politics the art of the possible, we mean the art of knowing what is possible here and now.


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