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Graham, Ron.

Toronto, Collins, c1986.441 pp, cloth, $26.95, ISBN 0-00-2176424. CIP

Reviewed by Ruth Rausa

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

One-Eyed Kings: Promise and Illusion in Canadian Politics is one of the more entertaining works on Canadian political culture I have read. The author examines the broad patterns of Canadian politics and uses as his point of departure the leadership styles of Trudeau, Clark, Turner, and Mulroney. Each of these four men took office in the 1980s with his own distinctive leadership style and set of priorities, yet each succumbed to certain forces at work in Canadian society. Graham writes that ".. .by understanding how Canadians look generally upon politics, power, and the state and by judging the weight of the major interests that compete for influence and favours.. .anyone can deduce what is likely to happen in the medium-to-long term, what the few options are likely to be, or at least why so many Canadian governments end up doing much the same things." The work is divided into five sections; one on each of the four leaders (the section on Clark is entitled "The Who's Farewell Tour") and one section on the Big Blue Machine of the Ontario Tories.

While Graham's main purpose is to explore the forces that make partly and policy somewhat secondary in Canadian politics, he also provides the reader with some delightfully amusing anecdotes and portraits of the four leaders. Indeed, Graham states. "I saw it as my role to transmit to those sitting at home in their armchairs how the company of the famous and mighty felt. . .. Approaching figures with almost no preconceived ideas other than those gathered by everyone who watches the news, I trusted I would see what most people would see if put in the same position."

Part of the reason One-Eyed Kings works is Graham's background. Between 1980 and 1985, Saturday Night magazine assigned Graham to write four political profiles, three of which appear in this work. He is not part of the Ottawa press corps and admits that before writing the articles ". . I came to them cleansed of any party affiliation, any Ottawa connections, and any solutions for the problems of the world." He brings a certain freshness to the work that a Richard Gwyn or Jeffrey Simpson could not.

This is a most readable work. Its major hypothesis is thought-provoking, the style of writing is witty, and the characters portraits are fascinating. One-Eyed Kings will no doubt find a place in public and academic libraries.

Ruth Rausa, Toronto, Ont.
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