Dimensions: 576 pages, 9.23 × 6.41 × 1.66 in
Published: October 14, 2008
Publisher: Knopf Canada
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0676975216
ISBN - 13: 9780676975215
Read from the Book
Chapter One Two Worlds The Great War was over; the times tasted bitter. Influenza came back with the soldiers and killed more at home than had died in the trenches. Like the war, it preferred the young to the old. Death usually came quickly as the victims suffocated in a blood-tinged froth that sometimes gushed grotesquely from their faces. As winter became spring in 1919, theatres stayed empty. Men and women entered public places warily, concealing their faces behind gauze masks. The plague invaded private spaces, compelling isolation and reflection. What, then, did Grace Elliott Trudeau and her husband, Joseph-Charles-Émile, think when she learned she was pregnant in Montreal in mid-winter 1919? Pregnancy was dangerous in normal times, but the influenza surely terrified her as her body began to swell with her second child. The twentieth century had so far been a great disappointment – especially for francophone Canadians. There was some excitement and hope when it began with Canada’s first French-speaking prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier, in power, and an increasingly prosperous economy. The great transformation of Western society that occurred as electricity, steamships, telephones, railways, and automobiles upset the balance of the Victorian age profoundly affected the world of the young Trudeaus. In Quebec, as elsewhere, people were in motion, leaving the familiar fields of rural life and traditional crafts for the cities that were exploding beyond their
From the Publisher
One of the most important, exciting biographies of our time: the definitive, major two-volume biography of Pierre Elliott Trudeau – written with unprecedented, complete access to Trudeau’s enormous cache of private letters and papers.
Bestselling biographer John English gets behind the public record and existing glancing portraits of Trudeau to reveal the real man and the multiple influences that shaped his life, providing the full context lacking in all previous biographies to-date.
As prime minister between 1968 and 1984, Trudeau, the brilliant, controversial figure, intrigued Canadians and attracted international attention as no other Canadian leader has ever done. Volume One takes us from his birth in 1919 to his election as leader in 1968.
Born into a wealthy family in Montreal, Trudeau excelled at the best schools, graduating as a lawyer with conservative, nationalist and traditional Catholic views. But always conscious of his French-English heritage, desperate to know the outside world, and an adventurer to boot, he embarked on a pilgrimage of discovery – first to Harvard and the Sorbonne, then to the London School of Economics and, finally, on a trip through Europe, the Middle East, India and China. He was a changed man when he returned – socialist in his politics, sympathetic to labour, a friend to activists and writers in radical causes. Suddenly and surprisingly, he went to Ottawa for two mostly unhappy years as a public servant in the Privy Council Office. He frequently shocked his colleagues when, on the brink of a Quebec election, for example, he departed for New York or Europe on an extended tour. Yet in the 1950s and 60s, he wrote the most important articles outlining his political philosophy.
And there were the remarkable relationships with friends, women and especially his mother (whom he lived with until he was middle-aged). He wrote to them always, exchanging ideas with the men, intimacies with the women, especially in these early years, and lively descriptions of his life. He even recorded his in-depth psychoanalysis in Paris. This personal side of Trudeau has never been revealed before – and it sheds light on the politician and statesman he became.
Volume One ends with his entry into politics, his appointment as Minister of Justice, his meeting Margaret and his election as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada. There, his genius and charisma, his ambition and intellectual prowess, his ruthlessness and emotional character and his deliberate shaping of himself for leadership played out on the national stage and, when Lester B. Pearson announced his retirement as prime minister in 1968, there was but one obvious man for the job: Pierre Trudeau.
In 1938 Trudeau began a diary, which he continued for over two years. It is detailed, frank, and extraordinarily revealing. It is the only diary in Trudeau’s papers, apart from less personal travel diaries and an agenda for 1937 that contains some commentary. His diary expresses Trudeau’s own need to chronicle the moments of late adolescence as he tried to find his identity. It begins on New Year’s Day 1938 with the intriguing advice: “If you want to know my thoughts, read between the lines!”
–from Citizen of the World
About the Author
John English, a professor of history at the University of Waterloo and former MP, is the author of the acclaimed two-volume biography of Lester Pearson, The Worldly Years: The Life of Lester Pearson, Vol. 1:1949—1972, and Shadow of Heaven: The Life of Lester B. Pearson Vol. 2, along with several other books on Canadian politics.
“A sensitive, thoughtful, and beautifully written biography of one of Canada''s most intriguing figures by a leading Canadian historian. This first installment shows that if anyone can unpick the puzzle of Pierre Trudeau and help us to understand both his many-faceted personality and his impact on his times, it is surely John English.”
—Dr. Margaret MacMillan
“[This biography] is brilliant, so perceptive about Trudeau, so well informed on the context, so beautifully written..” —Ramsay Cook, General Editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography