Canada’s legendary ambassador to the United States reveals his personal diaries from his time in Washington, from 1981 to 1989.
Allan Gotlieb was ambassador to the United States during a high point in U.S.-Canada relations, the Reagan and Mulroney eras. One of our country’s most effective diplomats, he was renowned for forging inside connections to the capital’s key decision-makers, and as he has said, “In Washington, gossip is not gossip — gossip is intelligence.”
Gotlieb kept a diary almost daily during his time in Washington, and its entries are filled with anecdotes about meetings and parties with the capital’s social, media, and political elite. Katharine Graham, Jesse Helms, and Sandra Day O’Connor are just a few who appear in its pages, as are such Canadian visitors as Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark, and even Wayne Gretzky.
With frankness and self-deprecating wit, Gotlieb recounts the absurdities and pretensions of life in Washington and his fight to make Canada’s voice heard. His diaries chronicle not only the major international issues of the time — such as the forging of the Free Trade Agreement — but also his own growth from Washington outsider to sophisticated power-broker.
Allan Gotlieb has written widely on international law and diplomacy. He holds an M.A. from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and a law degree from Harvard. A prominent member of Canada’s business community, he serves on numerous boards and is a Companion of the Order of Canada. Gotlieb and his wife now live in Toronto, where he is a senior adviser in the law firm Bennett Jones.
A Maclean’s bestseller
“The Gotliebs had a busy social life, filled with engagements with some of the most influential people in 1980s Washington. . . . This is quite likely the first book where Zbigniew Brzezinski, Edmund Muskie, and Burt Reynolds are the subject of footnotes on the same page.”
— Quill & Quire
“He is a keen observer and a sharp writer, and the combination is beguiling, amusing and revealing.”
— Canadian Jewish News
The book is so fascinating, so gracefully observed and so politically astute that once begun it is impossible to set aside. . . . A terrifically interesting, informative and rewarding read.”
— London Free Press
“The Diaries offer that rare glimpse from a Canadian senior diplomat into the real world of politics. This alone makes it a must-read for the Canadian political voyeur.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“This is the most insightful book about how Washington works since Henry Adams's classic Democracy, which didn't skimp on the vicissitudes of Washington's social life either. These Washington diaries reveal the U.S. capital's narrowness, pettiness and self-absorption in all its raw beauty and horror.”
— Globe and Mail
“[A] compulsively readable memoir stuffed with anecdotes about the movers and shakers of the Reagan/ Mulroney era.”
— National Post
“A virtuoso performance of style and insight. Anyone who cares about Canada-U.S. relations, Canadian foreign policy and the nature of U.S. government should read it. . . . The mundane, ridiculous, significant and crucial, issues long forgotten and still around, weave their threads through the tapestry of The Washington Diaries, a riveting record of him, them and us.”
— Jeffrey Simpson, Globe and Mail
“As gripping . . . as a John le Carré spy thriller.”
— Ottawa Citizen