Hubris – and the inevitable comeuppance that follows – is what comes to mind when reading Arthur Porter’s memoir, penned with Canadian author T.R. Todd.
The Man Behind the Bow Tie, we are told, was written so “we can all look back and see more clearly how Arthur Porter – doctor, businessman, statesman, spy watchdog, husband and father – went from the halls of power to the hell of La Joya.” Porter is an intelligent man from an accomplished background, but his ego seems to have blinded him to the reality and inappropriateness of the situations in which he has found himself – namely, his involvement in mega-million-dollar projects in Canada and the U.S. and the allegations of fraud and conspiracy for which he is currently incarcerated in Panama.
In its zealous effort to impress, the book instead reveals Porter to be a consummate name-dropper who is starved for recognition, vulnerable to praise, pathetically transparent, and prone to exaggeration. Underestimating the intelligence of his readers, Porter frequently mentions the “diplomatic passport” he inexplicably carries, then finally reveals he is an international goodwill ambassador, a position that has more in common with a Kentucky colonel than with those who ride around with little flags attached to their car fenders. He also tells us that, had he become U.S. surgeon general, he would have been the “boss” of the Secret Service agents ultimately sent to interrogate him.
The Man Behind the Bow Tie is a convoluted, self-serving diatribe that clumsily attempts to justify a morass of shady dealings and relationships. Intended as the study of a unique individual, it should instead be considered a warning against an all-too-common human failing. – Laurie Glenn