Thursday, 7 August 2014

Peter Newman, "The Secret Mulroney Tapes" (2005)

Subtitle: "The Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister."

Newman, commentator emeritus on Canadian politics, published an unprecedented and very controversial view into a former Prime Minister's work, as culled from extensive interviews conducted with Brian Mulroney (Canadian Prime Minister from 1984 through 1993).

Newman claimed to have Mulroney's tacit agreement to publish a book of Mulroney's years of leadership, as long as the book did not come out until Mulroney left office. Later, Mulroney apparently rethought this plan, and decided to write his own book. Newman's response was to deliver transcripts of tapes he made in conversation with Mulroney, as well as with aides, along with his own analysis.

The book was primarily controversial because it's unvarnished foul language and Mulroney's clear vindictiveness made Mulroney appear bitter, venal, and uncouth. Mulroney's camp was also frustrated as Newman's book came out a year before Mulroney's autobiography.

Newman's original title for a book on Mulroney's leadership was "Burden of Power." The Secret Mulroney Tapes smacks of being written in a bit of a hurry. There are a few overlaps in the content, and Newman's hyperbole sometimes goes over the top. While he made an effort to treat Mulroney fairly, the clear sense emerges within the book that Newman finds Mulroney less than attractive. Some of his editorial choices may have been intended to reveal how the stress of leadership can take a toll on a good person. Alternatively, the book also could be seen as revealing what type of personality characteristics are required to become leaders.

Following the book's release, Mulroney sued Newman over ownership of the tapes as well as to how profits from the book would be distributed. By summer 2006, Mulroney had withdrawn his suit, but neither party has revealed the terms of settlement.

Allan Gregg interviews Peter Newman on the book.
Brian Mulroney's tongue-in-cheek response.

I've also discussed Newman's When the Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada (2013) in this blog.

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