Ignatieff’s honesty sets his apart from other political memoirs

  • October 31, 2013

In his Songs of Innocence William Blake wrote: “The strongest poison ever known / Comes from Caesar’s laurel crown.”

A learned man like Michael Ignatieff might have understood and taken that lesson to heart, and thereby saved himself, his family, perhaps even the country, some grief.

The theme of Ignatieff ’s new book Fire and Ashes is hubris (actually the title of chapter one), a Greek derivative perhaps best defined as overweening ambition. Ignatieff writes:

“One night in October 2004, three men we had never met before — and whom we later called ‘the men in black’ — arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to take my wife… and me out to dinner… After a drink or two (Alfred) Apps came to the point: Would I consider returning to Canada and running for the Liberal Party? … What the men in black were proposing was incredible. . . When the meal ended and they headed back to Toronto, I said merely that I would think about it.”

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