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Stephen Harper

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  31 reviews
The authoritative biography of Stephen Harper, to be published on the eve of the next election.

          As one of the important prime ministers in the life of our nation, Stephen Harper has reshaped Canada into a more conservative country, a transformation that his opponents tacitly admit will never be reversed. He has made government smaller, justice tougher, and provinc
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 12th 2015 by Signal (first published August 4th 2015)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  204 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
This was the advance copy I was waiting for all year. Ibbitson is one of the best writers on Canadian politics out there (along with Paul Wells) and this promised to become THE biography of Stephen Harper.

Now that the publication date is being moved up, the promise is fulfilled just in time for the general election. If Harper wins, this book will explain how he became one of Canada's longest serving Prime Ministers. If he loses, this will become his political obituary. It's that important.

The bo
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Veteran Globe and Mail columnist John Ibbitson has written a first-rate biography of one of Canada's most controversial prime ministers. Few Canadians, it seems, are indifferent to Stephen Harper. Many think he has been an effective and successful leader of our country, but many others simply loathe the man.

Ibbitson’s treatment of Harper is scrupulously fair and even-handed, from youth in suburban Toronto to maturity as Conservative Party leader and prime minister, now embroiled in a very close
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads/First Reads
Shelves: biography, political
In" Stephen Harper" which I won through Goodreads/First Reads John Ibbitson writes with candour about Canada's former Prime Minister from his childhood to his rise in the political arena and his term in office. The biography portrays Stephen Harper as a family man devoted to his children and to his supportive wife Lauren and as a politician with strengths and weaknesses, dedicated to building a "conservative Canada".

It is a well-structured, comprehensive picture of a "political street fighter" w
Martin Rollins
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
John Ibbitson's Stephen Harper is a well-balanced biography that candidly looks at our last Prime Minister's positive and negative attributes. Ibbitson does not gloss over the fact that Harper can be mean, overly secretive and a 'control freak'. Nor does the author mince words concerning some of Harper's most discreditable decisions and approaches: the abolition of the long form census, the blatant disregard for parliamentary accountablility, and his utter contempt for the judiciary. Ibbitson, ...more
Jacob Kojfman
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
John Ibbitson masterfully captures an individual as complex and nuanced as Stephen Harper in under 400 pages. More importantly, he presents a very balanced view as the man who may go on to be regarded as Canada's most controversial prime minister. Having spent a year sabbatical from his post at the Globe & Mail, Ibbitson shows he left no stone unturned in researching this tome.

The book is broken into three parts. The final part discusses the Harper premiership. This is the part that is most
Jupiter's Fury
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
when I first picked up this book, I was a little wary. Harper is one of the most polarizing Prime Ministers, and I feared this would be a smear job. I was pleasantly surprised by how fair Ibbitson was. He praises Harper when he deserves recognition, and reveals his downfalls and mistakes without holding back. Such balance was a breath of fresh air in the usually charged dialogue surrounding Harper.

You really come away from this biography understanding Harper the man better, which is exactly what
Yannick Serres
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
4/5 not for the man he is, but for the quality of the book.

As a Quebecker, I already didn't really like what Stephen Harper represents. With this book, I dislike him even more.

I learned a lot in this biography and that is the reason I'm giving the BOOK a good rating. It is well structured and easy enough to follow and understand. I am not a fan of politic, but it's always nice to know a little about the people making really important decisions for the good of all.

Stephen Harper has done great th
H Wesselius
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
I panned "The Big Shift" written by the same author, This is marginally better but still horribly one sided and blinded by what appears to be a love affair for Harper, his ideology or his methodology or all of the above. Ibbitson continues his fascination with the Conservative resentment for the so-called Laurentian elites. Resentment emerges as the motivating factor behind Harper's drive to eliminate the Liberals and shrink the federal government. Thus, this biography is mainly a work psycho-hi ...more
Joel Olson
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever wanted to discover the why, in how Stephen Harper makes decisions and his approach to things in politics this is the book.

Personally, I was very much always a Harper fan, but for those that find themselves in the other camp, there is much clarity into how government works and doesn't work.
Jacob Travis
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
An insightful read into how Harper has become the man and PM that he is today. Well worth the read
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was supplied with an advance reader copy through Goodreads. Usually I have only a passing interest in politics, and am not particularly enthralled with the PC party (though I have voted across the political spectrum). This balanced, insightful perspective on Stephen Harper was extremely well-written, and interested me to keep reading through to the end. I would recommend this book to anyone to read, to find out more about the workings of Canadian politics, and/or to gain perspective on an ofte ...more
Linda Mehus-Barber
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Ibbitson did an outstanding job of writing without bias, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from cover to cover. The rise of the Reform party through to the amalgamation of the Canadian Alliance and PC parties was well documented and provided a clear understanding of how Canada finally came to have a "truly conservative" party. There is no question that the "Harper years" will have a long-term impact on Canadian politics and on how we define ourselves as a nation. Finally, those of ...more
Lauren Wallace
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"This book is a biography. While situating the life of Canada's twenty-second prime minister in the life of Canada, it seeks first and last to understand the man himself." (X)

I would like to thank Penguin Random house for proving me with an advance copy of this book!

For someone who wasn't the biggest Harper fan, but after reading this book, I began to understand him a little better. This book was really easy to fully grasp, even without a love of Canadian politics. This book displayed the full
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive and inspiring story of Stephen Harper's rise to Prime Minister of Canada. Would highly recommend for anyone who is interested in learning a little more about Canada's domestic political dynamics.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who wants to understand who Harper is and what motivates him needs to read this biography. I also read Ibbitson's "Big Shift" and found that book equally hard to put down. Regardless of what your view of Harper is, please just remove those partisan lenses for the roughly 400 pages of Harper's political world that you are about to enter. Unlike some readers, I do not find Ibbitson partisan at all in this book. Harper is a complex character not amenable to painting with broad strokes. I fin ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Political junkies - beware. Whether you are a fan of Stephen Harper or not, this political tome is hard to put down.

My favourite part of the book is the first half, where author John Ibbitson examines Harper the man. He is by all accounts a moody, micro-managing loner - someone who had trouble working for or even with other people. The author writes in a compelling way of the forces from his youth and early adulthood that helped shape his character and his core political beliefs.

I also particu
Aaron Shaw
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent read about our now former prime-minister. Ibbitson does a great job at telling the stories of both Stephen Harper the person (referred to in the book as Steve Harper) and Stephen Harper the politician.

While overall a strong endorsement and praise of Harper there is also an equal amount of criticism too. The book takes us from Harper's early days of a Liberal supporter through to his evolution into Canada's first truly conservative leader. Tales of the struggle to unite the
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This can't have been an easy biography to write, since it is well-known that Harper is a secretive introvert and Ibbitson never fails to emphasize this fact. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the first part of the book, which follows Harper's formative years leading up to PM-ship.

However, I have a hard time believing the narrative that the author tries to drive home, namely that the coalition of 905 and Western voters is here to stay. All in all, Ibbitson has delivered a companion book to THE B
Anne Derkat
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this book from Goodreads.

A fascinating read. Full of details of Harper's life, the crisis, the relationships, his brilliance, his strengths and weaknesses, how he has dealt with people and events his whole life. A marvelous in depth look at a complicated man done by an author who has obviously done a great deal of research.

I wish that every voter could read this book before the October election.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadiana, politics
Unlike most books about Stephen Harper, this one doesn't make him out as a calculating, evil kitten-killer (Stephen Harper, for the record, LOVES cats). It's not a hagiography either, and I think Ibbitson is fairly successful at being both critical and complimentary. I think Harper gets a bit of an easy ride in certain spots, but on the whole the book is balanced. It answers the question of why Stephen Harper is the way he is and what makes him tick.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had to stop because it was mind-numbingly boring. I just can't care this much about the minutiae of Alberta politics. Started reading Cunt by Inga Muscio instead- way better choice.
Russ Skinner
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sympathetic, at times fawning, look at Our Imperious Leader (my expression).

Among the things I learned: killing the long-form census was his decision, never presented to his Cabinet.

Ibbitson's best work for The Globe and Mail, in my opinion, was when he was stationed in Washington. But this book was excellent, much better than Paul Wells'. Well worth reading.
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Gives some interesting insights into Harper's background and personality. Ibbitson has a particular ideological bent that is quite obvious throughout the book. Which is fine; that's his right, but since it's a perspective I disagree with pretty vehemently, I was distracted by mentally arguing with the author for much of the book. Your mileage may vary, depending on your outlook.
Marilyn Fraser
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I find this book very interesting. I cannot say what page I'm on because I'm reading it on Kobo.
Parts of it are pretty heavy reading. It is full of information I did not know.
I recommend it for anyone interested in Canadian politics and history.
Daniel Frank
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
It's hard for me to judge this book because I've already read all of the other books on Harper and am familiar with his premiership. That being said, the book does deserve some praise as Ibbitson is spot on with his main thesis of Stephen Harper.

Youze da Funk
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Offers a rigorous and surprisingly humane portrait of the Man with the Lego Hair, and somehow manages to do so without being sycophantic about it. A must-read for anyone interested in the state of Canadian federal politics.
Stanley Lee
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
really complements Michael Harris's book, the party of one
Dan Leca
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read for anyone interested in politics, management and the life of a PM in Canada at the Federal level during the modern era. John did a great job.
Jacques Decarie
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot in this book about politics, and Stephen Harper. Any leader wanting to reduce the size of government has my vote, and would have it again if he came back.
George Wenzel
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great biography, from schoolboy to PM.
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John Ibbitson (born 1955 in Gravenhurst, Ontario) is a Canadian writer and journalist. He is currently Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail. He has written three books on Ontario and Canadian politics - Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution (1997), Loyal No More: Ontario's Struggle for a Separate Destiny, and The Polite Revolution: Perfecting the Canadian Dream (McClelland & S ...more
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“But because of that asymmetricality of power, the Canadian prime minister is subordinate to the U.S. president. And as we have seen time and time and time again, Stephen Harper simply cannot stand being told what to do. All his life he has chafed against authority. People who think they know more than he does annoy him. He cannot defer. And that may well be part of the reason for the dysfunctionality of the relationship between the Langevin Block and the West Wing during the Harper–Obama years.” 0 likes
“Politics and the stock market are the two most ruthless environments outside an actual battlefield. The market creates and destroys wealth; politics creates and destroys power. Power and wealth are both highly prized, and those who acquire large amounts of either are unlikely to be gentle souls.” 0 likes
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