Book has a small amount of wear visible on the binding, cover, pages. Selection as wide as the Mississippi.
From the Publisher
The first full-scale biography of Canada's first prime minister in
half a century by one of our best-known and most highly regarded
The first volume of Richard Gwyn's definitive biography of John A.
Macdonald follows his life from his birth in Scotland in 1815 to
his emigration with his family to Kingston, Ontario, to his days as
a young, rising lawyer, to his tragedy-ridden first marriage, to
the birth of his political ambitions, to his commitment to the
all-but-impossible challenge of achieving Confederation, to his
presiding, with his second wife Agnes, over the first Canada Day of
the new Dominion in 1867.
Colourful, intensely human and with a full measure of human
frailties, Macdonald was beyond question Canada's most important
prime minister. This volume describes how Macdonald developed
Canada's first true national political party, encompassing French
and English and occupying the centre of the political spectrum. To
perpetuate this party, Macdonald made systematic use of patronage
to recruit talent and to bond supporters, a system of politics that
continues to this day.
Gwyn judges that Macdonald, if operating on a small stage,
possessed political skills-of manipulation and deception as well as
an extraordinary grasp of human nature-of the same calibre as the
greats of his time, such as Disraeli and Lincoln. Confederation is
the centerpiece here, and Gywn's commentary on Macdonald's pivotal
role is original and provocative. But his most striking analysis is
that the greatest accomplishment of nineteenth-century Canadians
was not Confederation, but rather to decide not to become
Americans. Macdonald saw Confederation as a means to an end, its
purpose being to serve as a loud and clear demonstration of the
existence of a national will to survive. The two threats Macdonald
had to contend with were those of annexation by the United States,
perhaps by force, perhaps by osmosis, and equally that Britain just
might let that annexation happen to avoid a conflict with the
continent's new and unbeatable power.
Gwyn describes Macdonald as "Canada's first anti-American." And in
pages brimming with anecdote, insight, detail and originality, he
has created an indelible portrait of "the irreplaceable man,"-the
man who made us.
"Macdonald hadn't so much created a nation as manipulated and
seduced and connived and bullied it into existence against the
wishes of most of its own citizens. Now that Confederation was
done, Macdonald would have to do it all over again: having conjured
up a child-nation he would have to nurture it through adolescence
towards adulthood. How he did this is, however, another
"He never made the least attempt to hide his "vice," unlike, say,
his contemporary, William Gladstone, with his sallies across London
to save prostitutes, or Mackenzie King with his crystal-ball
gazing. Not only was Macdonald entirely unashamed of his behaviour,
he often actually drew attention to it, as in his famous response
to a heckler who accused him of being drunk at a public meeting:
"Yes, but the people would prefer John A. drunk to George Brown
sober." There was no hypocrisy in Macdonald's make-up, nor any
-from John A. Macdonald
From the Hardcover edition.