The other side of ‘Irish Eyes’

Brian Mulroney abroad and at home

There are several types of political biographies. One serves to shower praise and burnish legacies once the politician in question has been put to pasture. Jean Chrétien has been the subject of more than one of these tomes, Bob Plamondon’s The Shawinigan Fox being only the most recent. As Lawrence Martin did in his mostly flattering take of Jean Chrétien’s life, Iron Man, Plamondon in his book revels in how the screw-faced little man from the Quebecois sticks fought expectations (not to mention separatists, Paul Martin, and Liberal party stalwarts) to become prime minister.

Another type, usually written while the politician is still active, exists to take stock and either quiet or amplify the noise made during his or her tenure. Michael Wolff’s Fire and...