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One on One: Favourite Conversations and the Stories Behind Them

by Peter Mansbridge

In One on One, Peter Mansbridge, one of Canada’s best-known TV journalists, collects his most illuminating, engaging, and inspiring interviews from the past 10 years with more than 30 of the world’s most prominent politicians, celebrities, athletes, and cultural leaders.

Mansbridge succeeds in providing readers with a diverse range of interview subjects, often caught at timely moments: Conrad Black in 1999, during his fight with then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien regarding Black’s appointment to Britain’s House of Lords; Karlheinz Schreiber in 2007, two days before Brian Mulroney’s testimony at a parliamentary committee investigating Schreiber’s allegations against him; and Marc Garneau in 2000, on the eve of his third and final space flight.

Though the wide variety of interview subjects means that One on One is liable to attract a broad range of readers, it also means it’s unlikely that individual readers will find themselves enthralled by every interview. And while the interviews are conducted in Mansbridge’s distinct and engaging style, it’s hard for a reader to forget that these are merely printed transcripts of television recordings, many of which are better suited to the screen than to the page.

Fortunately, Mansbridge’s behind-the-scenes recollections, which bookend each interview, provide an added boost. From a tale about jazz singer Diana Krall being too nervous to introduce herself in a grocery store to a story about almost wearing a mismatched suit jacket and pants to an interview with newly elected President Barack Obama, Mansbridge proves that he truly knows how to spin a good yarn.

In the introduction to his interview with musician Randy Bachman, Mansbridge writes, “I feel that if an interview can leave viewers with one good story to repeat to friends, then it’s been a success.” Despite the collection’s minor flaws, Mansbridge does prove himself one of Canada’s best interviewers and provides his readers with many good stories to remember and retell.