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Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto
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Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews

Since 2010 Toronto's headlines have been consumed by the outrageous personal foibles and government-slashing, anti-urbanist policies of Mayor Rob Ford. But the heated debate at City Hall has obscured a bigger, decade-long narrative of Toronto's ascending as a mature global city. It raises questions: What role does a mayor play in a city's temperament and self-confidence? C
Paperback, 171 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Coach House Books (first published October 16th 2012)
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Jan 30, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This is the second smart review of Toronto politics I've read in the last few months. I'm pleased that there are writers like Edward Keenan who are able to provide insight into Toronto's anarchic politics without succumbing to prejudice. In his review of the mayoralties of Mel Lastman, David Miller, and Rob Ford, Keenan reveals deep social fissures in the city. These are not the result of divisive politics, but in fact the forces that explain the election of Rob Ford. As the city grows apart soc ...more
Biff  Nightingale
Jul 22, 2013 Biff Nightingale rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking and intelligent read..I could hardly put it down! Although ALREADY outdated (he ends on the heady days right after Ford was ordered from office), it is nonetheless an excellent analysis of what Toronto is, was, and could be. A must read for any Torontonian!
Chris Jones
Oct 31, 2016 Chris Jones rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, sociology, 2016
Quick and good overview of recent politics in Toronto, helped me wrap my head around it. Covers the administrations of the last three mayors. Very biased journalist who is very aware of his biases.
Jessie B.
Feb 26, 2017 Jessie B. rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me realize that I was paying more attention to Toronto politics than I realized and that is is a fascinating topic.
Mar 20, 2014 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Interesting and readable look at the past decade of Toronto politics. Especially recommended if you've been watching the Rob Ford saga unfold and wondered how things got that way.

At the core of Toronto's problems is a divide between suburbs and city which no other Canadian city faces on the same scale - Vancouver is unaffordable everywhere, while Montreal struggles to prosper at all, and Calgary and Edmonton are nothing but suburbs. Only Toronto has such a marked contrast between idealized urban
Michael Bryson
Mar 31, 2013 Michael Bryson rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Interesting survey of Toronto municipal politics since amalgamation in the 1990s. Could do with more analysis on why amalgamation happened in the first place, and the role of the provincial government in setting Toronto down this new path. It was not inevitable, and the region-wide issues that amalgamation displaced remain unresolved and, again, on the upswing. It's great that Keenan writes about the crisis in Toronto old inner-suburbs, since that's a topic downtowners are often loath to articul ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
What an interesting read for anyone that lives in and cares about Toronto. Keenan gives a good overview of the history of the city focusing on the characters that built it '....the Holy Trinity of Torontoism: William Lyon Mackenzie, R.C. Harris, and Jane Jacob'. His focus is on the post amalgamation mayors (Lastman, Miller, Ford) and how their governing style helped to create the city we know today. He's not easy on them exposing their strengths and weaknesses. The most frustrating part is the b ...more
May 05, 2013 Leif rated it really liked it
Reading this on just moving to Toronto, I was happy to find a well-versed, smartly written summary of Toronto's political and urbanist history over the course of its last three mayors --- Lastman, Harris, and Ford --- with brief glimpses of enduring presences in the city's architectural and cultural historical landscape, namely the influences of reformer William Lyon Mackenzie, public works commissioner Roland Caldwell Harris (well known by the argumentative take on his life from In the Skin of ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Rj rated it really liked it
Last night finished Edward Keenan's Some Great Idea: Good Neighbourhoods, Crazy Politics and the Invention of Toronto (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2013). Keenan who is a local journalist on urban affairs writes about the last three mayors of the city since amalgamation, Mel Lastman, David Miller and Rob Ford. He tries to tease out the connections between disparity of wealth, ideologies and politics by looking at how Toronto has struggled to find itself. Like the larger quest for Canadian identit ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Kendra rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it, favorites
Read this book if you live in Toronto. City politics reporter Edward Keenan has unveiled his analysis of Toronto since amalgamation, examining how neighbourhoods have grown and how they respond to different policies and developments based on their unique circumstances. Framed by this primer on urban development comes Keenan's analysis of the three mayors since amalgamation: Mel Lastman, David Miller and Rob Ford.

While Keenan is no fan of Rob Ford, he gives what I see as a fair, almost magnanimo
Arshy Mann
Apr 21, 2013 Arshy Mann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: toronto
An absolutely fantastic book that opened my eyes to the nuances of recent political history of Toronto. What I expected was a book that focused simply on the urban core and viewed amalgamation as a disaster that should be swiftly undone. Instead, I got an engaging account of the Lastman, Miller and Ford years and an astute reading of what the urban/suburban divide in Toronto actually entails. Filled with great anecdotes and a keen eye for the broader history of Toronto (all the way back to Macke ...more
Bill Crawford
Feb 10, 2013 Bill Crawford rated it it was amazing
This book was published before the Ford appeal decision, so it might be premature in its assumption that the Ford era is at an end. However, this is a thorough review of the last 15 years of local history, and is a manifesto /blueprint /impassioned plea for a political program and leadership that can make something better of the mess we find ourselves in. I agree with the urgency and the thesis, and that's why I'm giving it 5 stars.
Vaishnavee Suresh
Feb 12, 2016 Vaishnavee Suresh rated it did not like it
I liked his points about Toronto's multiculturalism and the identity crisis that it has been going through since its inception. However, I just couldn't take the over the top aggrandizing... gave up after "the sun never sets on the Toronto empire." ~Chapter 3.

I might come back to it during the summer, with more patience.
Julian Haigh
May 01, 2014 Julian Haigh rated it liked it
A polemical account of Toronto's politics since amalgamation viewing the three mayors: Lastman, Miller and Ford, as prisms to understand the voting blocks of Toronto. A quick read, certainly no longer developed arguments, though with an open mind and a strong appreciation for the place of citizen engagement in the proper conduct of municipal affairs.
Aug 05, 2013 James rated it really liked it
Keenan's writing is an engaging mix of professional precision and individual idiosyncrasy. Some Great Idea is entertaining and informative, contextualizing and detailing Toronto's state of civic disorder in 2013. Its emphasis on achievement and opportunity is a refreshing change from the jingoistic discourse that commonly dominates political discussion in the city. I liked it.
Angela Sun
Jun 24, 2013 Angela Sun rated it liked it
Interesting read, mainly on mayoral politics of Toronto. Would've like more insight into the broader genesis of city and its urban planning versus a deep dive into its sometimes petty politics. Well-written, passionate author.
Mar 28, 2013 Cody rated it it was amazing
Shelves: toronto
I loved this read. Well researched with just enough historical context provided. Contemporary, historic and futuristic thought in one little gem of a book. Rob Ford fans - this book is not for you. Unless you need another reason to come over to the bright side.
May 10, 2013 Joanna rated it really liked it
He kept my attention for a whole book on municipal politics -- very thoughtful and some great writing
Jan 29, 2013 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Very insightful consideration of the different kinds of relationships people have with their city. Through no fault of Keenan's own, I am just kind of sick of some of the stories. Cmoooon 2014.
Oct 06, 2014 LoudVal rated it liked it
Some great points were made, some good back-story was given, some fantastic reads were referenced.
Adam Sol
Apr 11, 2013 Adam Sol rated it liked it
Very informative, breezily written book about recent Toronto politics. If you want to know how we managed to elect Rob Ford, this is a pretty good place to start.
Rob Duffy
Jul 01, 2013 Rob Duffy rated it really liked it
If you want to properly understand the city I live in, this one is on the syllabus.
Daniel Frank
Apr 19, 2013 Daniel Frank rated it did not like it
I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a book. This was truly awful.
Lorena rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2013
Lise rated it really liked it
Jan 07, 2013
J Mitchell
J Mitchell rated it really liked it
Apr 10, 2016
Benson Tam
Benson Tam rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2013
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Oct 05, 2013
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Jun 07, 2013
Margarida rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2015
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