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Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politicsby Michael Ignatieff
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Ignatieff offers a cautionary tale for public intellectuals who would be politicians. The Toronto native, currently a professor at the University of Toronto and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, served as head of Canada's Liberal Party until 2011, when he lost his own seat in the party's worst showing in its history. Ignatieff had left Harvard in 2005 to enter Canadian politics and swiftly rose through the ranks to become leader of his party, on the cusp of becoming the next Prime Minister, only to face a huge electoral defeat and million-dollar campaign debt. Wised up to the rough and tumble of political life, he reflects on what he did right and wrong, and shows why getting elected, and then enacting reforms, is hard work. 'Red meat must be thrown to the hounds,' he muses. This thin volume could have easily been a vanity book, but it's more than that. An erudite and civilized man, Ignatieff ends his tale with surprisingly upbeat advice to aspiring politicians. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In 2005 Michael Ignatieff left Harvard to lead Canada's Liberal Party and by 2008 was poised to become Prime Minister. It never happened. He describes what he learned from his bruising defeat about compromise and the necessity of bridging differences in a pluralist society. A reflective, compelling account of modern politics as it really is.
An Independent Book of the Week, 2013
About the Author
Michael Ignatieff is Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and Professor of Practice at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
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