Cover image for Fire and ashes : success and failure in politics
Title:
Fire and ashes : success and failure in politics
Author:
Ignatieff, Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, [2013]
Physical Description:
xiii, 205 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
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.
Language:
English
Contents:
Hubris -- Ambition -- Fortuna -- Reading the room -- Money and language -- Responsibility and representation -- Standing -- Enemies and adversaries -- What the taxi driver said -- The calling.
ISBN:
9780674725997
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

Michael Ignatieff, born in Toronto in 1947. But at the age of 11, Ignatieff was sent to Toronto to attend Upper Canada College as a boarder in 1959. At UCC, Ignatieff was elected a school prefect as Head of Wedd's House, was the captain of the varsity soccer team, and served as editor-in-chief of the school's yearbook. As well, Ignatieff volunteered for the Liberal Party during the 1965 federal election by canvassing the York South riding. He resumed his work for the Liberal Party in 1968, as a national youth organizer and party delegate for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau party leadership campaign. He then went on to continue his education at the University of Toronto and Harvard and Cambridge universities. In 1976, Ignatieff completed his Ph.D in History at Harvard University. He was granted a Cambridge M.A. by incorporation in 1978 on taking up a fellowship at King's College there. Michael Ignatieff has written television programs for the BBC, novels, and works of nonfiction. He has also authored essays and reviews for several publications including The New York Times. From 1990-93, he wrote a weekly column on international affairs for The Observer.

His family memoir, The Russian Album, received Canada's Governor General Award in 1988. His second novel, Scar Tissue, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1993. Other nonfiction works include A Just Measure of Pain, the Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution and the Warrior's Honor: Ethic War and the Modern Conscience.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. xx
1 Hubrisp. 1
2 Ambitionp. 7
3 Fortunap. 33
4 Reading the Roomp. 51
5 Money and Languagep. 69
6 Responsibility and Representationp. 89
7 Standingp. 115
8 Enemies and Adversariesp. 137
9 What the Taxi Driver Saidp. 165
10 The Callingp. 177
Notesp. 185
Indexp. 193