View Full Version : How Justin Trudeau's political memoir is a 'rite of passage'

08-08-2014, 05:07 AM

With the release this fall of Justin Trudeau's memoirs, the Liberal leader will join the ever-growing ranks of political candidates penning autobiographies to use as campaign tools to shape their political narrative.

"Everyone does it. It's a rite of passage, almost, for political leaders," Toronto-based political strategist Marcel Wieder said.

"A book has the penumbra of authority and expertise even if, as is the case with most candidates' books, it was ghost written by somebody else," said Steve Ross, a former publisher at Crown Publishers, which published U.S. President Barack Obama's best-selling books.

As Ross points out, there's a range of types of books by politicians, "some of which are very obviously campaign books — they don’t try to disguise themselves as something else."

But Trudeau's publisher, HarperCollins Canada, has promised that his book, Common Ground: My Past, Our Present and Canada’s Future, will be a "candid memoir" that "will reveal to its readers the experiences that have shaped him over the course of his life."

While many political memoirs are written after a politician leaves the public stage, candidates are now releasing these campaign books as a precursor for a run for higher office.

It's not a new phenomenon. Freelance writer Casey N. Cep points out in a recent article for Politico titled "Why are politicians' books so terrible" that Jimmy Carter may have actually started the campaign book trend with the publishing of his pre-presidency volume Why Not the Best? But nowadays, there certainly seem to be more of them.
■Justin Trudeau to publish 'candid' memoir in English and French
■Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices book tour kicks off

It may also be more of an American trend. Although former prime minister Jean Chrétien wrote Straight From the Heart before he became prime minister, most Canadian politicians have waited until after they have retired from politics to pen their memoirs.

Yet that trend may be slowly changing here. Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow recently released her memoirs to coincide with her run, and now Trudeau is prepping the electorate with his narrative before the fall 2015 federal election.

Both may have taken their cues from Obama, whose personal memoir Dreams From My Father and the more political tome The Audacity of Hope certainly helped his successful path to the White House.

"Although it came out with the beginning of his campaigning for president, and it does have some similarities with traditional campaign books, I believe it transcended the genre or at least defines the highest form the genre can create," Ross said.

'Political memoirs have become political strategy'

Obama's success may have also been responsible for prompting other politicians to flood the market with their own personal stories. In the 2012 presidential race, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain all had books out leading up to the Republican presidential nomination race.

Most recently, Hillary Clinton, a potential Democratic presidential candidate, has been hitting the stump with her book Hard Choices (a follow to her Living History memoirs).

"Clearly now these political memoirs have become political strategy designed to really help develop a political brand for the candidates," public relations strategist John Crean of National Public Relations said.

"It's all about a way to create a brand or a narrative around the candidate that will start to inform their campaign once it hits the road."

It also allows candidates to have exposure without the political campaigning, Wieder said.

"There's a veneer of respectability of being a published author, and that's why people do it, to show a little a more substance than what the general press would write about them in their political capacity."

Most importantly, books like these humanize the candidate and show a different side than what's portrayed in the media on a day-to-day basis, Wieder said.

But the books also run the risk of attracting criticism. Generally they tend to be very vanilla flavoured, not likely to offend anyone, offering no shocking revelations, Wieder said.

As Cep wrote in her article for Politico, the move to control the narrative "points to the reason these campaign books make for such lousy reading."

"Any politician who is popular enough to attract a publisher’s attention already has too much to jeopardize with personal candour or political complexity," she wrote. "Mostly, these books provide the candidates the chance to say nothing at all for pages and pages and pages."

Striking the right balance between writing something that is interesting, candid and real versus something that is clearly designed to create and establish a brand image can be a difficult balance to achieve, Crean said.

"It's striking that balance. Hillary Clinton's book is thought to be too public policy-oriented and less about her own personal observations of what it was like to do the job that she did."

Trudeau has already been knocked by some critics, who question whether he has sufficient life experience to fill an autobiography.

"You kind of have to wait and see the book before you really judge whether this is supposed to be life lessons for us or whether this is simply a life in progress and [Trudeau] is just sharing with you a little bit more about who [he is]," Crean said.

this will be the shortest book ever,,

Rory McCanuck
08-08-2014, 07:50 AM
Mein Coiffe: The Final Conditioner

08-08-2014, 08:45 AM
Dear Diary: Today I get to go to a different amusement park! I'm going to be the head of the Liberal Party !!1!1! Just like my step-dad always said I would!1! This is sooooo exciting! Much better than teaching drama, I'm going to be creating drama! I'm going to run a whole country, just like Xi Jinping and Uncle Fidel! Yaaaaay!

08-08-2014, 09:36 AM
A book has the penumbra of authority

I'm sorry, is that the same as Allison Redford's "aura of power"?

Is it me or are we getting some weird 'super hero' language in our political stories these days?

(Cue cheezy martial arts stance and lip sync - ) "Your Aura of Power is no match for my Penumbra of Authority - Now give me back the money you stole from my brother by cheating at dice!" "Ha ha foolish youth - you forget my Aura of Power allows me to escape on this private jet plane!" Hiiiiiii YA! - OIC to the head!

08-08-2014, 09:38 AM
Mein Coiffe: The Final Conditioner
Ok, that's funny right there :)

08-08-2014, 09:54 AM
It'll probably be a pop-up book.

Camo tung
08-08-2014, 10:33 AM
It'll probably be a pop-up book.

Nice! ;D

08-08-2014, 10:34 AM
He should be writing a diary, not memoirs.

It's a little like a petition -- a one sided argument that only lists people who agree, even if millions disagree. It's hard to argue with a book while you're reading it, except in the blogosphere.

A potential writer of law, needs someone else to write a book.
A former educator, needs someone else to write a book.

08-08-2014, 10:35 AM
It'll probably be a pop-up book.
+12 internets.

08-08-2014, 11:25 AM
It'll probably be a pop-up book.

NO,, toooo dangerous,, he'd probably poke an eye out the first time he tried to read it

08-08-2014, 11:31 AM
Likely a pretty boring book considering he has done nothing interesting in his entire life. I bet it tanks as hard a Hilary's book does. A pop up book would probably sell better.

08-08-2014, 12:14 PM
Likely a pretty boring book considering he has done nothing interesting in his entire life. I bet it tanks as hard a Hilary's book does. A pop up book would probably sell better.

Kinda what I was thinking. First Chapter, going to work when the real teacher calls in sick. Chapter two, how to win the Liberal Party leadership over candidates with actual substance through excessive hair combing and coat tail riding. Chapter three, how to effectively get the taste of foot out of your mouth. The Rolling Stones are gonna be so proud....

08-08-2014, 12:18 PM
I bet it tanks as hard a Hilary's book does.

I hope it does as well as The Royal Society's "The History of Fish" (1683).
No one wanted "The History of Fish". The book so effectively bankrupted The Royal Society that they started paying staff and creditors in copies of the book, their only remaining asset. Large 'payments' were made using many copies of the same book. The 'payments' didn't go over well. When The Royal Society was approached in late 1683 to publish "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" by Isaac Newton, they responded that they'd love too, but had no cash due to unexpectedly poor book sales.
It would be interesting to see Liberal sponsored Harper Attack Adds on television, paid for with copies of Justin's book.

08-09-2014, 01:30 PM
Says a lot about how pompous the little snot nose is though doesn't it?

Donny Fenn
08-09-2014, 08:13 PM
I enjoy the reference to Hilary's book, as it pretty much tanked and the book tour to support it failed.
I heard rumors that she was going to have to pay back some of her advance money.

11-03-2016, 10:06 AM
10 surprising revelations from Justin Trudeau's new memoir

October 18, 2014
Ottawa, Ontario


8.Trudeau was so happily off-balance during his first date with wife Sophie Gregoire that he "actually walked into a lamp post." He proposed to her that same night.

"I'm 31-years-old, so I've been waiting for you for 31 years," he told her. "Can we just skip the boyfriend/girlfriend part and go straight to engaged since we're going to spend the rest of our lives together?"


10. Trudeau admires the way Preston Manning created the Reform Party, precursor to today's Conservative party, around the rallying cry, "the West wants in," in the aftermath of exclusionary policies such as his own father's reviled national energy program.

"In the entrepreneurial fashion that has come to rightly typify the West, the local response to a political movement that excluded them was to create one that couldn't live without them, and to build that movement until it governed the whole country. When you take a step back and think about it, it was an awesome achievement, maybe unparalleled in our political history."


11-03-2016, 01:16 PM
"Can we just skip the boyfriend/girlfriend part and go straight to engaged since we're going to spend the rest of our lives together?"

No, because creepy.
Also, in the Chatelaine article, she said it was a year between first date and marriage proposal? Hmmmm.

The marriage proposal came about a year later, on Oct. 18, 2004 http://www.chatelaine.com/living/politics/when-justin-met-sophie/

Still trying to figure out if his comments on his admiration of the entrepreneurial West are tongue-in-cheek, malicious, or clueless? Not a lot of people out here feeling the love...

11-03-2016, 01:34 PM
Coloring With Justin !!! Get your crayons kids !!!
Homer Simpson With Hair - The Early Years

The Pop Up Selfie Book - Justin in terrifying 3D

Balancing Budgets With Turd - Free Blind Fold Included !!!!

How To Get Two Free Nanny's - The Special Fraud Edition

How To Pass The Buck For Dummy's