What is the measure of a “good” book? How about one that keeps your interest despite being about a subject you have very little interest in (provincial politics) in a place you have never been (Newfoundland & Labrador)? When Turmoil, as Usual by James McLeod (Creative Publishing, 2016) landed in my mailbox, I wasn’t anxious to read it. However, as I started to read Mr. McLeod’s book (just to see if it was interesting at all), I was immediately drawn in, much like I was many decades ago with Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (which the author alludes to later in the book, much to my amusement).
Living in Ontario, then moving to New Brunswick in 2008, I had little appreciation of provincial governance out this way. Mr. McLeod’s book captivated my attention right from the start for in his introduction, he states:
The colour and flavour of politics, the human dynamics, and the absurdity of it all frequently gets lost in the grind of daily news coverage. This is the story I wrote, as it happened.
The book covers the space of one year, during which three and a half different premiers served the province. Turmoil, indeed! Mr. McLeod, who is a political reporter for the largest newspaper in Newfoundland and Labrador has a witty (but not glib) engaging writing style. He also states in the introduction that the book should be read as one would read a letter or an email from a friend, for that is where the initial idea for this grew from. It has a personal feel to it, and it certainly is not dry reading, or ‘tough sledding’ as they say around here.
What I liked about this book is that it was a behind-the-scenes look at elections, campaigns, leadership races and so on. It was a busy year for politics and Mr. McLeod covers it all. I found it especially insightful when it comes to the three main parties and how differently they run their campaigns, such as the use of ‘hospitality suites’ where a lot of free booze is available to entice more supporters over to the candidate’s side.
Essentially, Turmoil, As Usual is a book for politically minded Newfoundlanders, but for anybody interested in politics (or like me, very little interest), the human dynamics, and the absurdities of it all, then this book will prove to be an enjoyable, informative read.