Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Fall books watch: Hebert/Lapierre on the referendum

The Morning After builds on a pretty terrific premise:  talk to (first, secure access to!) all the principals in the 1995 Quebec referendum, and ask them what they would have done if the result had been Yes instead of No.

I am a little disappointed that this is actually not a real oral history. What Chantal Hébert and Jean Lapierre provide is a collection of journalists' pieces based on lots of quotes from the interviewees, but with the first person quotes surrounded by a great deal of context, interpretation and analysis by the authors. It's eighteen short magazine profiles.

That is still pretty interesting. Lots of lessons, though my main takeaway so far is that Lucien Bouchard seems to have been the dumbest person in the history of Canadian politics, entertaining the most implausible post-referendum plans and having not the slightest clue what was really happening all around him.

There does not seem to be any mention in the book of what has become of the actual interview transcripts.  I hope Hébert and Lapierre are going to archive them where they will be widely available. Good as the book is, there must be lodes of gold in there, and it will only get more valuable.
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