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Michael Ignatieff On Success And Failure In Politics

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff dunks a slide of apple in batter to make an apple fritter Saturday, April 30, 2011 in Paris, Ont. (Paul Chiasson/AP)

Former Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff dunks a slide of apple in batter to make an apple fritter Saturday, April 30, 2011 in Paris, Ont. (Paul Chiasson/AP)

Michael Ignatieff was living a happy life in Cambridge when the “men in black” took him out to Rialto for dinner.

He’d spent his career on the sidelines of politics — teaching human rights and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; writing books about philosophy, ethnic war and political ethics in an age of terror.

But the “men in black” wanted Ignatieff to get down in the dirt — to seek political office in Canada. He had always considered himself Canadian, but he hadn’t actually lived there in over 30 years.

That was one of many challenges Ignatieff worked to overcome in his five and a half years as a Canadian politician.

After fighting through three campaigns in five years — winning the first two and losing the last one — Ignatieff is back in Cambridge, teaching democratic politics and international relations at the Kennedy School again.

And he’s out with a brutally honest new book, where he reflects on how his political career may have gone wrong. It’s called “Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics.”

WBUR’s Anthony Brooks sat down with Ignatieff — who will be speaking at the Harvard Book Store on Wednesday Jan. 29 — to talk about the peaks and valleys of Canadian and American politics.

Guest

Michael Ignatieff, Canadian writer, academic and former politician. Author of “Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics.” Professor of democratic politics and international relations at the Kennedy School. Served in the Parliament of Canada and was Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He tweets at @M_Ignatieff.

More

Wall Street Journal: Book Review: ‘Fire And Ashes,’ By Michael Ignatieff

  • “The decisive end to Mr. Ignatieff’s short political career has afforded him the luxury of speaking frankly about life as a politician, and he has done so, at points, with poise and insight. Indeed, I’ve never read a politician’s account of seeking and maintaining power that has quite the level of candor I found here — beginning with the admission that ‘there are few rewards for candor in politics.'”

National Post: Michael Ignatieff Admits Mistakes And Airs Grievances: He And Harper Both ‘Denied Standing’ During Election

  • “In a speech lamenting the vicious tone of the attack ads used against him, former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on Tuesday told a law school audience that his party did the same thing to Stephen Harper, unfairly tarring him as a dangerously right-wing, American-style political extremist, bent on undoing cherished Canadian values.”

New York Times: Getting Iraq Wrong

  • “The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq has condemned the political judgment of a president. But it has also condemned the judgment of many others, myself included, who as commentators supported the invasion.”

Excerpt


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