Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times

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Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times

by Richard J. Gwyn

Random House of Canada | September 27, 2011 | Hardcover

Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times is rated 5 out of 5 by 1.
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

An exciting story, passionately told and rich in detail, this major biography is the second volume of the bestselling, award-winning John A: The Man Who Made Us, by well-known journalist and highly respected author Richard Gwyn.

John A. Macdonald, Canada''s first and most important prime minister, is the man who made Confederation happen, who built this country over the next quarter century, and who shaped what it is today. From Confederation Day in 1867, where this volume picks up, Macdonald finessed a reluctant union of four provinces in central and eastern Canada into a strong nation, despite indifference from Britain and annexationist sentiment in the United States.

But it wasn''t easy. The wily Macdonald faced constant crises throughout these years, from Louis Riel''s two rebellions through to the Pacific Scandal that almost undid his government and his quest to find the spine of the nation: the railroad that would link east to west. Gwyn paints a superb portrait of Canada and its leaders through these formative years and also delves deep to show us Macdonald the man, as he marries for the second time, deals with the birth of a disabled child, and the assassination of his close friend Darcy McGee, and wrestles with whether Riel should hang.

Indelibly, Gwyn shows us Macdonald''s love of this country and his ability to joust with forces who would have been just as happy to see the end of Canada before it had really begun, creating a must-read for all Canadians.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 688 pages, 9.5 × 6.38 × 1.64 in

Published: September 27, 2011

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307356442

ISBN - 13: 9780307356444

Found in: History

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Making Sir John A come alive Sir John A Macdonald did something amazing. In 1867, he and his fellow Fathers of Confederation knit together four separate British colonies into the Dominion of Canada. That in itself was an exceptional accomplishment, as detailed in Volume 1 - "The Man Who Made Us" by Richard Gwyn. Gwyn’s second volume, “Nation Builder” is even better. Gwyn is able to show us the steps that Macdonald, an outstanding negotiator and very clever builder, undertook to turn Canada from four provinces in eastern North America into a nation from sea to sea and north to the Arctic Ocean. There were bumps along the way: the Pacific Scandal that put Macdonald into opposition for 5 years; Macdonald’s troubled home life; his regrettable addiction to alcohol; his decision to execute Louis Riel after the second Riel rebellion. However, Macdonald drove the agenda that saw the CPR finished in 1885 with an all-Canadian route; developed the manufacturing and the settlement policies that provided the foundations; and steadily built the foundations for Canada’s eventual independence from Great Britain. I have previously read Donald Creighton’s two volumes on Macdonald (“The Young Politician” and “The Old Chieftain” and they were good. However, Richard Gwyn, with a wonderful style and a great storyteller’s knack for planning and referencing his tale, makes Sir John A., nation builder; stand out as an individual to whom all Canadians owe a debt of gratitude. What is certainly interesting is that Macdonald accomplished so much with his skills in persuasion, his intellect and his ability to form coalitions that were willing to work together. He wa, except for George Brown, founder of “the Globe” newspaper, rarely vengeful. It was not war that built Canada, a nation of peace, order and good government, but an amazing combination of the right ideas, at the right time, in the right circumstances, diplomatically proposed and implemented. In such troubled times, when Canada is seen as a beacon to the world, this biography tells us about Macdonald, the man who conceived and coordinated the foundations of the Canada we know. I treated myself to this book as an early birthday present, and have given it as a gift. My only suggestion is that Random House consider putting more large illustrations in a future edition, given there is such a treasure trove of available material.
Date published: 2011-11-13

– More About This Product –

Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times

by Richard J. Gwyn

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 688 pages, 9.5 × 6.38 × 1.64 in

Published: September 27, 2011

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307356442

ISBN - 13: 9780307356444

Read from the Book

In thirty days, for weal or for woe, the Confederate Government will be inaugurated. By the exercise of common sense and a limited amount of the patriotism which goes by the name of self-interest, I have no doubt the Union will be good for the Country’s weal. —Macdonald to Newfoundland politician Ambrose Shea, June 3, 1867 Confederation Day, on July 1, 1867, passed tolerably well. All across Ontario, large crowds turned out to watch the parades and fireworks, listen to concerts by military bands, eat free steaks carved from oxen roasting on spits, sit through speeches by politicians, and cheer on games of cricket or croquet, with sack races for the children. The excitement was equally high in the English sections of Montreal. In Nova Scotia, though, several newspapers bordered their front page in black, and the government forbade distribution of the governor general’s proclamation. In Quebec, the crowds were sparse, Montreal’s powerful Bishop Ignace Bourget delayed expressing even grudging approval for Confederation until the day had passed, and George-Étienne Cartier’s own newspaper, La Minerve , informed readers that Confederation provided a direct route to “l’indépendence politique.”   All that really mattered was that Confederation had happened. For the first time ever, colonials had written their own constitution. They had done so despite having only two federal models as guides, in Switzerland and the Un
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From the Publisher

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

An exciting story, passionately told and rich in detail, this major biography is the second volume of the bestselling, award-winning John A: The Man Who Made Us, by well-known journalist and highly respected author Richard Gwyn.

John A. Macdonald, Canada''s first and most important prime minister, is the man who made Confederation happen, who built this country over the next quarter century, and who shaped what it is today. From Confederation Day in 1867, where this volume picks up, Macdonald finessed a reluctant union of four provinces in central and eastern Canada into a strong nation, despite indifference from Britain and annexationist sentiment in the United States.

But it wasn''t easy. The wily Macdonald faced constant crises throughout these years, from Louis Riel''s two rebellions through to the Pacific Scandal that almost undid his government and his quest to find the spine of the nation: the railroad that would link east to west. Gwyn paints a superb portrait of Canada and its leaders through these formative years and also delves deep to show us Macdonald the man, as he marries for the second time, deals with the birth of a disabled child, and the assassination of his close friend Darcy McGee, and wrestles with whether Riel should hang.

Indelibly, Gwyn shows us Macdonald''s love of this country and his ability to joust with forces who would have been just as happy to see the end of Canada before it had really begun, creating a must-read for all Canadians.

About the Author

RICHARD GWYN is an award-winning author and political columnist. He is widely known as a commentator for the Toronto Star on national and international affairs and as a frequent contributor to television and radio programs. His books include two highly praised biographies, Smallwood: The Unlikely Revolutionary on Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood, and The Northern Magus on Pierre Elliott Trudeau. His book, Nationalism Without Walls: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian, was selected by the Literary Review of Canada as one of the 100 most important books published in Canada. The first volume of Gwyn''s biography of Macdonald was published in 2007, became a national bestseller and won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.

Editorial Reviews

WINNER 2012 – Writers’ Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing WINNER 2012 – Dafoe Book Prize FINALIST 2011 – Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction FINALIST 2011 – BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction FINALIST 2011 – Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction FINALIST 2011 – Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction A Globe and Mail Best Book “Having digested prodigious quantities of research, and woven his knowledge into a seamless and stylish whole, Gwyn…has given us a first prime minister for the 21st century…. A towering achievement, a glittering career-capper, and it may prove impossible to beat.” —Ken McGoogan, The Globe and Mail   “All the key historical characters are deftly described, which contributes hugely to making this book such an engaging read…. Nation Maker brings a fresh, welcome perspective to the life of our founding father. Anyone who reads it will no longer be able to take this powerful, charismatic, and dedicated man for granted.” —Quill & Quire (starred review)   “Gwyn knows how to tell a good story…. This is John A., warts and all.” —Winnipeg Free Press “It was widely expected that the veteran journalist Richard Gwyn would write an extremely readable biography of Sir John A. Macdonald, and he has. It was expected that his books would address
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