Which Historical Books Should Canadian Politicians Read?

25 05 2010

Library of Parliament, Ottawa

Sarah Richardson, a historian at Warwick University who is also involved with the History and Policy website, has some thoughts about what sort of historical books British MPs should read over the summer. Listen to this short interview here. The other person being interviewed is Douglas Hurd, a former British Foreign Secretary, who has written a book about Sir Robert Peel. Prof. Richardson refers to Peter Marsh’s biography of Joseph Chamberlain.

My question to readers of this blog is: which historical books would you recommend to Canadian politicians as summer reading? If you had to give just one historical book to each Canadian MP to read, what would it be? You have an unlimited budget– it can be a paperback book or a $100 hardback– but you need to think about which book is most likely to have a positive influence on MPs that would ultimately translate into better public policy.You also should select a book they are likely to read as opposed to simply leave on the shelf.

I know that some people are tempted to joke that Canadian MPs aren’t as bright as their British counterparts and that maybe we should just assign them some children’s books.  The fact is there are some intellectual people in the Canadian parliament — the Speaker Peter Milliken is one of them. I would appreciate it if people could take this exercise seriously.