David Emerson’s review of my book The Longer I’m Prime Minister in the new issue of Policy Options is a highlight of the early reaction from critics, colleagues and political insiders. That reaction has so far been extremely gratifying. Writing this book was such a challenge that while I was in the middle of it I had no sense of whether readers would like it. The response so far has been wonderful.
Emerson, of course, was Stephen Harper’s trade minister and then his minister of foreign affairs. His review calls TLIPM “a fascinating, must-read book” gleaned from a “trove of sources” in “a style that is at times hilarious, often biting and always informative.” “Wells has given me a new and richer understanding of the political machinations of the past decade in Canada with this book,” Emerson writes. I will now quote some other reviews and comments, but Emerson’s is the one review I wish prospective buyers would read.
It follows writeups in the Toronto Star (“thoroughly absorbing and intensely readable”) and Winnipeg Free Press (“an air of authority…plenty of detail”). The festivities began, several days earlier, with a starred review, denoting a book of particular interest, in Publishers Weekly, the industry bible of U.S. booksellers (“incisive…convincing”). On Goodreads as I write this, readers have given the book a 4.67 rating out of five. On that site, Andrew Taubman gave it five stars and wished he could give six. Taubman works for Chapters/Indigo, which has named TLIPM one of the 100 best books of 2013.
One of my goals was to write a book about Harper that readers could enjoy no matter what they thought of him. I wasn’t sure it was possible, given how polarized perceptions of Harper are. But it seems to be working. The Star and Winnipeg Free Press reviewers are deeply skeptical of Harper’s politics. David Frum is a big fan of the prime minister, and in his column for CNN’s website he recommends this “lively… entertaining and insightful study” to American conservatives looking for ways to win.
People who’ve worked with Harper say my account of the facts is accurate. Dan Robertson produced Conservative ads during the 2011 campaign; on Twitter he wrote, “When everything I am familiar with is accurate, I believe the parts I’m not familiar with are as well. Good read.”
Journalistic colleagues have been very kind, from Reuters’ David Ljunggren (“Even-handed, well researched”) to CTV’s Don Martin (“Riveting insight, beautifully written”) to the Globe’s Ian Bailey (“Couldn’t put down…much to offer supporters, foes and those in between”).
Here’s an excerpt that we ran in Maclean’s, on Harper’s working style; another from the Ottawa Citizen, on the significance of the 2008 coalition crisis; and a third from the Hill Times, on Harper’s first days in power in 2006. Sun News National Bureau Chief David Akin quotes highlights from the book on his blog. The most detailed radio interview I’ve given was with Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC’s The Current.
You can buy The Longer I’m Prime Minister from the independent booksellers I’ve been proud to support on this tour, including Ben McNally Books in Toronto and Pages on Kensington in Calgary; as well as from Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, McNally Robinson and iTunes. On Wednesday, thanks to my favourite bookstore The Book Keeper, I’ll speak about the book on the stage of the Sarnia Public Library Auditorium, where I first performed when I was 7 years old. I want to thank everyone who’s attended a launch event or bought a copy of the book for encouraging long-form political journalism.