Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Straight from the Heart - Book Review

Straight from the Heart
By Jean Chretien
Key Porter Books
Originally published in 1985
Updated in 1994

I'm sure you have all read this book. If you haven't, well you need to read it. There are several different covers for this book.

This cover is NOT the one I have. Its just the best picture I can find. My cover is BLUE. It has a blue background and Chretien wearing a blue denim shirt. My version is the 1994 updated edition.

When I came to Canada in 2000, Jean Chretien was the Prime Minister of Canada. He was voted into office on a landslide after Brian Mulroney had resigned and Kim Campbell became PM for just 4 short months. When Kim Campbell's Tories lost all but two of their seats in the 1993 election, Jean Chretien became the new Liberal Prime Minister. He left that job in 2003 after 10 years. He was succeeded by Paul Martin about whom I shall say nothing.

This book is about Chretien's career as a political leader in the various governments of Canada from 1963 to 2003, with one gap of 8 years. Chretien served under great names in Parliament such as Leston Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, and Brian Mulroney before finally becoming Prime Minister himself.

Pearson was PM for 5 years, Trudeau for a total of 14 years, Mulroney for 9 years. Clark, Turner and Campbell were all PMs for just 1 year or less.

Chretien held a number of Ministerial positions over the years. One of them was Minister of Justice and Attorney General. In this role, Chretien was a major force in the 1980 Quebec referendum, being one of the main federal representatives "on the ground" during the campaign. His fiery and emotional speeches would enthrall federalist crowds with his blunt warnings of the consequences of separation.

Chretien also served as Minister of State for Social Development and Minister Responsible for Constitutional Negotiations, playing a significant role in the patriation of the Constitution of Canada in 1982.

In 1986, Chrétien resigned his seat and left public life for a time. Now working in the private sector again, Chrétien sat on the boards of several corporations. Chrétien would be a major focal point of dissatisfaction with Turner, with many polls showing his popularity.

His 1985 book, Straight from the Heart was an instant best-seller.

After Turner's resignation as leader in 1989, Chrétien announced he would run for the party leadership in June 1990.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy to read. My one problem with this book is that Chretien did not say enough about his childhood. He literally jumps in and starts at age 15. His mother gave birth to 19 babies. Jean Chretien was number 18, born in 1934. 10 of those babies did not survive their childhood.

I read this book (Straight from the Heart) for the Canadian Book Challenge. I didn't need to read this book. It's number 40. I have done this challenge 3 times in 10 months. 13 books times 3 is 39. I prefer to finish on an even number, so I have read 40 books for this challenge. Thats enough Canadian books for me.

Now that Chretien has retired, from politics, he has written a sequel to Straight from the Heart. This book is called My Years as Prime Minister. It starts oin election night in 1993. I glanced through it at the library yesterday. But I chose not to get it out simply because I am already over loaded with Canadian politics for now. I may read it some other time.


Anonymous said...

I am a poly sci major so I will have to add this to my tbr list. By the way, check out my blog for a surprise.

Historia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Historia said...


John Mutford said...

The title is kind of cheesy, but I'd still give it a go.

Congrats on finishing, AGAIN! I'm very impressed.