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Humorous look at Stephen Harper nabs Cohen Prize

Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a Q and A session in The Hague, Netherlands, on Monday, March 24, 2014.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A "viscerally funny and often biting" account of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's time in office has taken home one of Canada's major literary prizes.

In an announcement Wednesday evening, journalist Paul Wells was awarded the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing for his 2013 book The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada. Mr. Wells was one of five finalists for the award, administered by the Writers' Trust of Canada and now in its 14th year.

Mr. Wells, who is the political editor at Maclean's magazine, was selected by a three-member panel that included The Globe and Mail's Doug Saunders.

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The book is a "fast-paced, romping great read about a Prime Minister who is frequently described by the Parliamentary Press Gallery as dull, plodding, and inscrutable," the panel's citation said. "Though viscerally funny and often biting, this book is never partisan or unfair. Impeccably researched, gorgeously written, and deeply insightful, The Longer I'm Prime Minister is an essential read for all political junkies."

In an earlier interview with The Globe, Mr. Wells said he wanted his book to be a work of empathy, one of interest to the Prime Minister's critics and fervent supporters alike. "I was trying to write a book that people could enjoy, and it would feel truthful to them, whatever they think about Stephen Harper," he said.

Four other finalists will receive $2,500 awards. They include: Margaret MacMillan, for The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914; Charles Montgomery for Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design; Donald J. Savoie for Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher? How Government Decides and Why; and former Globe writer Graeme Smith for The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan.

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