Book of the Week: Crazy Town by Robyn Doolittle

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Normally, a book about Toronto civic politics would be of virtually no interest to anyone outside the GTA (and, honestly, of very limited interest even to those within the city).

But in the age of Mayor Rob Ford, and his drug and alcohol-fueled antics, “normal” doesn’t really apply.

Robyn Doolittle’s Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story is one of the most hotly anticipated books of the winter,  not just in Toronto but in the rest of Canada and beyond. Doolittle, in fact, is scheduled to appear on The Daily Show with John Stewart this week to talk about the book.

The attention is richly deserved: Doolittle, who has been covering the Ford saga for the Toronto Star since its earliest stages (she was one of the journalists to view the infamous “crack tape” before it was offered up on Gawker) has produced, in Crazy Town, not only an account of Mayor Ford’s rise and fall, but a rich contextualization of the municipal and provincial forces which conspired to assist his assent.

It’s a useful primer on contemporary Toronto culture and politics, served up with all the verve one would expect of a working journalist.

At the heart of the story is the Ford family, and Doolittle’s background to Ford-as-politician is compelling, and provides insight into the dynamics which shaped both Rob and Doug Ford.

Drawing on dozens of interviews, and thousands of pages of police reports and other documents, Doolittle chronicles the investigations into Ford’s misconducts with admirable journalistic rigor and fairmindedness. As last week’s allegations of Ford’s involvement in the jailhouse beating of his sister’s common-law partner Scott MacIntyre (allegedly to ensure MacIntyre’s silence regarding his knowledge of Ford’s drug involvement), this is a story very much in progress: Crazy Town serves as a crucial primer as events continue to unfold.