Categories for Feature

Publishers Weekly: Recipe for Hate “riveting…an unflinching page-turner”!

Publisher’s Weekly is the book trade publication in the United States.  As Wikipedia notes, it is the “American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents. Published continuously since 1872, it has carried the tagline, “The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling”.

And I have never had one of my books mentioned in it.  Like, ever.

But here’s what they have said about my new one, Recipe for Hate:

“Riveting…Tension starts high and stays there in this unflinching page-turner, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the early punk scene and a moving testament to the power of friendship.”

Link is here.

Quill and Quire, now Publisher’s Weekly.

For those of you who have asked, yes: Daisy and Dundurn are working on a book launch in Toronto, to which all of you will be (somehow) invited.  And we are also putting together book events/media in different places in Canada in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, feel free to order your copy (or copies!) here and here!


Go neg, sure. But don’t lie.

Here’s a little snippet from next week’s column, about this ad.

Because the media scrutinize attack ads like no other form of political communication – and because voters don’t want to admit they’ve been motivated by an attack – attack ads must be 100 per cent accurate.  There can’t be anything in them that is factually wrong.  Nothing.

In the 2000 federal Liberal campaign, for example, a colleague and I spent an entire day agonizing over whether the placement of an ellipsis in a quote in an attack ad was going to get us in trouble.  And it did.  The impact of the ad was lost to a ton of process stories.

The campaign crew helping out Kathleen Wynne are the ones who cooked up the federal Grits’ “soldiers in the streets” spots in 2006.  Those ads, more than any other factor, contributed to Stephen Harper’s subsequent victory.  Because they were bullshit.

The Working Families ad is bullshit.  The notion that Patrick Brown – who has voted with the Liberals on every single tolerance/diversity issue in the Legislature – is Donald Trump is, well, crazy.  And anyone making that claim, with a straight face, is either a liar or stupid.  Or both.


#RecipeForHate featured in Publisher’s Weekly!

Their story below – and their review, which called my new book a “riveting, unflinching page-turner,” here.

YA Novel Inspired by 1980s Punks Who Brought Down Neo-Nazis

Warren Kinsella has been a persistent figure in Canadian politics and media for decades, as a strategist for various Liberal Party politicians, and even working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He has also been a commentator in newspapers including the Globe and Mail and the National Post, and is now a partner with Daisy Consulting Group, a consulting and crisis management firm in Toronto. But as a teenager in mid-’70s Calgary, Kinsella was deeply entrenched in the punk music scene, as a member of a band called the Hot Nasties. 

He has written a handful of adult nonfiction books over the years — Web of Hate: Inside Canada’s Far Right Network and Fury’s Hour: A (sort-of) Punk-Rock Manifesto, among others — whose titles form a logical path to his newest book, his first young adult novel. Recipe for Hate (Dundurn), available now in Canada and next month in the U.S., is a murder mystery set in Portland, Maine, about a group of punks in the ’70s dealing with their community’s “anti-punk hysteria” and the fallout after two of their friends are murdered by a gang of neo-Nazis.

According to Kinsella, the book is inspired by the Silent Brotherhood, a white supremacist terrorist group that he covered in the 1980s as a reporter for the Calgary Herald. The theme of neo-Nazis, however, is one that he’s unfortunately seeing echoes of again today. 

“The election of Trump and the passage of Brexit have obviously made it easier for these hate groups to be active and prominent. They’re bolder now than ever before,” Kinsella said. “And that’s because, in my opinion, Trump is a white supremacist and a bigot, and many of the people who supported him and are involved with him have the same views. The book’s timing is perfect to warn people about how these groups work and how they are a danger to civil society.”

Recipe for Hate — named for a Bad Religion song — launches a trilogy of books, with the second title, New Dark Ages, expected next fall. Kinsella said it takes place with the same group of people at a later period in time, and features a character “who looks and sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump.”


The intangible, impracticable, irrational National: ten reasons it fails

The missus was away.  The dogs had been let out.  I had a Man Cold. I’d finished the Holocaust Week panel at the ROM.  So I collapsed on the couch at Chez Kinsella and turned on the new and improved National on CBC.

So.

Here are my ten observations, in no particular order.

  1. Four anchors?  Seriously?  That’s not a newscast, that’s a sequel to Split, the movie.  Multiple personality disorder makes for memorable horror flicks, but not so much a serious newscast.
  2. The sum of the four is less than one part.  I’m sorry, CBC, but Ian Hanomansing is not just better than the other three – he’s actually one of the best newsreaders on Earth. He is authentic, he is authoritative.  The others simply aren’t.  Sorry.
  3. It’s too busy.  It feels disjointed and disorganized.  It feels chaotic. Just when you get the hang of one of the anchors, another one would pop up on your screen.  That’s not a newscast – that’s 90s-era MTV, folks.  Which, um, no longer exists.
  4. The graphics bugged me.  They are too big, and too simplistic. I could almost picture the moderator at the CBC focus groups: “Hey! Our viewers are vision-impaired mental defectives, so let’s communicate with them with two-syllable words in 100-point fonts!”
  5. It was seriously unserious.  Why did viewers stick with folks like Walter Cronkite or Lloyd Robertson or Knowlton Nash or Lisa LaFlamme?  Because, per above, those people radiate authenticity and authority.  They are serious people, talking about serious stuff.  They have gravitas. Precious few people have that – and Hanomansing is one.
  6. It was CNN-y. And possibly not in a good way.  On CNN, everything is BREAKING NEWS, which eventually means that nothing is BREAKING NEWS.  CBC isn’t making that mistake, yet, but it has already adopted another regrettable CNN tactic: journalists interviewing journalists, instead of having journalists doing, you know, journalism.  The segments with Paul Hunter, Keith Boag and Gillian Findlay were like that, and therefore kind of meh.  Ipso facto: stop talking about the news.  Show me the news.
  7. The set looks like it was designed by Sprockets.  (Am I dating myself? You remember Sprockets, don’t you? Mike Myers on SCTV, black turtlenecks, all Bauhaus-y. Funny. Okay, I am dating myself.)  It was all blacks and blues and angular and about as inviting as a two-day celebration of Blank Verse.  Probably cost a jillion dollars.
  8. Click schtick.  Early on, CBC seemed to be intent on making the National a revolutionary new content provider for its myriad online platforms.  They may still be planning to do that, but – to be sure – I clicked over the main CBC web page this morning, and it looks the same as it did yesterday.  No change.
  9. TV is pictures. That’s what George Frajkor taught me long ago at Cartoon U., and I never forgot it.  TV IS PICTURES, he’d holler, and we’d all nod.  TV is an emotional medium, one that works best when it is delivering powerful visuals.  Not, I note, journalists talking with journalists about the news, instead showing us the news.
  10. It didn’t blow me away.  And, with their ratings plummeting ever-downward, it needed to.  The new and improved National looked like the tall foreheads at CBC didn’t want to make any actual decisions – about one anchor, about one format, about one feel to it all – so they just threw everything into the blender, and are expecting us all to consume the results.

My hunch?  We won’t.


In the Sun: the Recipe For Hate

Life imitates fiction, sometimes, and not in ways that you’d expect.

This week, for example, I published a book called Recipe For Hate. It’s a novel.

Without giving away the plot, I can reveal that Recipe For Hate is about fanatics insinuating themselves into positions of power and influence. It’s about radicals clashing in the streets. And it’s about some people believing that extremism can be a virtue.

Sound familiar?

As I was writing the book, I would love to say that I foresaw Brexit, President Donald Trump, and the rise of extremism on the Left and the Right – extremism that resulted in murder in places like Charlottesville. But I didn’t. 

Last week, when touring to promote Recipe For Hate, I ran into my friend Adrienne Batra, editor-in-chief of the Toronto Sun. She suggested I write a column about how, nowadays, life is indeed imitating art.  
There are three reasons for the political and social upheaval we are seeing across the Americas and Western Europe. Three reasons for why our assumptions about politics have been upended.

One, the racist Right – whose leaders this newspaper has long been at the forefront of exposing, by the way – have gotten smarter. Starting with Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, far Right haters have dispensed with the Klansmen’s robes and the cross burnings. They have changed their public image. Now, they march in polo shirts and carry Tiki torches – and they offer slogans that are “pro white” and not “anti” minorities.

These racist leaders have studied, and copied, the proven PR techniques of mainstream political parties. They have presented a kinder, gentler face to the media and the voting public, and it has paid off (see Trump, Brexit, above).

Two, their timing has been impeccable. In the Seventies, the extremists railed against fluoridation and the metric system. In the Eighties, it was abortion and gay rights. In the nineties and beyond, however, the racist Right have targeted immigrants and refugees. And it’s paid dividends, in a big, big way.

It isn’t racist, of course, to oppose higher levels of immigration. It isn’t intolerant to want to debate how many refugees a country wishes to welcome.

But a variety of factors – Middle Eastern wars, Islamic extremism, severe climate change – have resulted in millions of immigrants and refugees looking for better places to live. Many North Americans and Western Europeans have grown uneasy about the immigrant wave. And that, more than any other factor, has resulted in stunning political change – from Brexit in the U.K., to the National Front in France, to Trump in the U.S. 

Thirdly and finally, the fanatics at the fringes know that solutions, these days, are pretty hard to come by. In 2017, the challenges we all face are complex, as are the solutions. So, the “alt-Rightists” and the “white nationalists” offer simple and seductive promises. They push emotional buttons, not moral ones.

And that’s why the haters are on the march, everywhere.

I wish I had foreseen all of that when I wrote Recipe For Hate, but I didn’t.

Now that Western society is being shaken to its foundations, however, all of us will be affected, in one way or another.

And that’s not fiction.

Warren Kinsella is the author of Recipe For Hate, published across North America and Europe by Dundurn Press.


Holocaust Education Week event, in pictures


Sold dozens of books, and had the great honour to meet some extraordinary people, including Holocaust survivors. Quite a night.


Tonight at the ROM: confronting Holocaust denial

Please come!  I will be there after the discussion with a limited number of copies of Recipe For Hate!  The panel starts at 7 p.m. in the Eaton Theatre.  Link here.

Holocaust Education Week Program
Confronting Holocaust Denial: A Canadian Experience

Just over thirty years ago, the infamous Holocaust denier and rabble rouser Ernst Zündel (1939 – 2017) published and disseminated pamphlets promoting Holocaust denial from his home in Cabbagetown, Toronto. Zündel was eventually charged under the Canadian Criminal Code, section 181, of spreading false news through his notorious publications. The lengthy and complex legal proceedings of the 1980s galvanized the Canadian Jewish community and defined an era characterized by social justice, an increased awareness of Holocaust education and the fight for the truth. To explore this pivotal moment in Canadian history, the Neuberger in partnership with the Royal Ontario Museum presents a panel of esteemed speakers who witnessed these events unfold and were part of the history making process. Panel moderator Bernie M. Farber, former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) was at the forefront of fighting Holocaust denial in Canada and is a recognized expert on hate crime. Among his many publications is From Marches to Modems: A Report on Organized Hate in Metropolitan Toronto (1997), a seminal work on the changing landscape of Holocaust denial in Toronto. Panelists include Gerda Frieberg, Holocaust survivor, business woman, activist and former chair of the CJC’s Ontario Region; Warren Kinsella, a Toronto-based journalist, political adviser and commentator; and Bill Dunphy, a veteran investigative journalist who extensively covered the trials.

Program Partner:
Holocaust Education Week
Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre


The gun lobby are terrorists

Good morning, Your Honour. We appear before you this morning to argue for the proposition that the defendant, the National Rifle Association of America, hereafter referred to as the NRA, is properly classified as a terrorist organization. And, accordingly, that the NRA’s directors and officers have been engaged in a campaign of terror against civilian populations.

Our indictment of the NRA, as you know, arises out of section 802 of the USA Patriot Act, No. 107-52, which has expanded the definition of terrorism to cover “domestic,” as opposed to international, terrorism.

Therein, the Patriot Act, which was overwhelmingly supported and passed by all parties in Congress, sets out that a person has engaged in domestic terrorism if they do something that is “dangerous to human life,” which the NRA has in fact done since the earliest days of its 1871 charter in New York State.

To be successful in prosecuting a crime under the Patriot Act, it must be shown that the NRA, one, intimidated or coerced the civilian population — which they have done, ceaselessly, for generations.

Two, that they have influenced the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion — which they have done, with armies of millionaire gun lobbyists threatening elected representatives with defeat and disgrace if they do not do the NRA’s bidding.

And, three, most crucially, we must show the NRA has attempted to affect the conduct of our government by “mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”

We cannot state for a fact, Your Honour, that the NRA has actively engaged in assassinations or kidnappings. We can state, however, that the NRA will be shown to have energetically advocated measures that are bound to lead to mass destruction, even in the wake of the killings of 20 children in Newtown.

Their most recent advertising campaign, which offers up the former president’s own children as rhetorical fodder, is ample evidence of the NRA’s willingness — like any terrorist organization — to terrorize children and parents to achieve its political goals.

We also take the view that at the time Thomas Jefferson and other founders ratified the Second Amendment, they did not intend it to be applied to the mass murder of six-year-olds using assault weapons.

We are aware that the definition of terrorism is broad, Your Honour, and there is a robust debate about when it applies.

But under section 802 of the Patriot Act, we remind you that this court need only find the NRA has — within the territorial confines of the United States — engaged in a campaign of intimidation or coercion of our government, and our citizens.

You need only find that the NRA seeks to affect the conduct of government by advocating “mass destruction.”

Lobbying for guns in schools is that, Your Honour. So is threatening members of Congress into lifting the ban on assault weapons. So is helping teenagers to purchase AK-47 assault weapons at gun shows. So is calling law enforcement “jack-booted government thugs.”

So is suggesting the president of the United States facilitates murder. So, most of all, is assassinating minimal efforts to prevent something like Newtown from ever happening again.

All these things the NRA has done, Your Honour. All of these acts of intimidation and coercion are not dissimilar to the campaigns of the Taliban or al-Qaida. They may wear expensive suits, Your Honour, but the NRA is not much different from the terrorists. They deserve to be treated as such by this court.


Making fun of people who you think are beneath you

One night, we were gathered around the kitchen table in Calgary, me and my pals were, and my Dad was listening to us. The conversation turned to astrology. I started making fun of people who believed in it. 

“What a bunch of idiots,” I said. “They actually believe their personalities can be determined by the position of stars jillions of miles away. Morons.”

My chums joined in. Soon, we were loudly making fun of psychics, homeopathic medicine and the religious, too. 

My Dad, who was a scientist, spoke up. “Gentlemen,” he said, in that quiet way he had, “there is nothing more cruel than mocking others for their harmless personal beliefs.”

And that stopped us cold. 

Anyway. We have a new Governor-General, and she is a scientist too. In recent days, she got together with some fellow scientists and mocked people who believe in God, homeopathy and astrology. 

Here’s direct quotes of what she said:

“Can you believe that still today…we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, a random process.

…[or that] taking a sugar pill will cure cancer if you will it good enough and that your future and every single one of the people here’s personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations.”

According to the CBC, here, the folks there all had a good laugh. They thought people who believe those things are idiots, too, and  are therefore worthy of ridicule. Ho, ho. 

But, you know, they’re not. And, just for the record, I’ve always thought astrology was kooky and that holistic medicine was goofy, too. I’ve always lacked proof that God, you know, exists. 

But. 

Since that long-ago day my Dad taught us a lesson, I’ve religiously believed this: if a person believes something imaginary is real, and they’re not hurting anyone else, they should be left alone. If someone thinks they’re a “Leo” (as I apparently am), who fucking cares? Would it kill anyone to let them keep believing that?

People get through tough times by believing in imaginary things. For example, can you believe there is actually someone in Canada  who believes her title is “Her Excellency, the Right Honourable, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M, C.D.”? Can you believe that this unelected person believes she is the “vice-regal” emissary of a family in Britain who are “royal” because God personally chose them?

Ho, ho. Can you believe that? Don’t you want to mock a person who believes that? 

Personally, I don’t intend to. If she wants to believe in harmless fictions, let her.