[This brief piece was published in the November 22 edition of The Hill Times newspaper in Ottawa. The paper asked a number of us to choose a political book that we liked in 2010].
Journalism is commonly called history on the run. Often it is filled with events but no one really connects the dots. Harperland: The Politics of Control, Lawrence Martin’s book on Stephen Harper’s first four years in power does a good job of making those connections. What emerges about the prime minister is his enduring pattern of flinty, hard-core conservatism and his mania for control. Of special significance were Martin’s interviews with people such as Tom Flanagan, who are, or were, close to the PM. They are starting to talk. The Conservatives dismiss the book as the work of a Liberal sympathizer but Martin’s two volumes on Jean Chretien were not hagiographies either. What likely rankles Conservatives is that Martin is one of the few columnists in the mainstream media who writes from anything approaching the left side of the political spectrum.