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Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Volume One: 1919-1968 [Paperback]

John English
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 28 2007
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

From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Volume One: 1919-1968 + Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume Two: 1968-2000
Price For Both: CDN$ 31.28

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Product Description


“A sensitive, thoughtful and beautifully written biography of one of Canada’s most intriguing figures by a leading Canadian historian. This first instalment 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, author of Paris 1919

Citizen of the World is more than just another volume on an already overcrowded shelf. It offers
the most intimate look at the most dominant of Canadian political figures in modern times.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“The most illuminating Trudeau portrait yet written. . . . John English was given full access to the gold mine–all of Mr. Trudeau’s diaries, letters and papers. It is from that kind of entrée that truths emerge. The Trudeau story is more wondrous than imagined.”
The Globe and Mail

“English’s work is very readable, balanced in judgment and of course deeply informed. . . . Trudeau’s energy, passion, ambition, wit and intellectuality leap off the page, leaving this reader once again with a sense of the extraordinary nature of his life and character.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“[A] magisterial biography drawing on many previously unpublished letters and diaries.”
National Post

Praise for The Worldly Years: The Life of Lester Pearson:

“A magnificent biography.”
The Globe and Mail

“John English captures all Pearson’s accomplishments in wonderful, readable detail. . . . Pure pleasure and pure insight.”
Calgary Herald

Ottawa Citizen

“A multi-dimensional portrait that rings true from beginning to end. A pleasure to read.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read March 22 2013
By Dr. Mo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Complementing “Just Watch Me” this Biography is an excellent work. Things that Trudeau did for Canada should not be forgotten.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pierre's route Sept. 12 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A most interesting read on the evolving of Pierre Trudeau's philosophy from separatist to Prime Minister of Canada..
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Biography of a fascinating man Nov. 23 2007
John English has written a detailed and fascinating biography of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the most remarkable Canadian of the 20th century. English was granted access to Trudeau's huge personal archives and is thus able to produce a rich and detailed study of this fascinating man. English's account of Trudeau's evolution from a conservative Quebec nationalist to a
very liberal Canadian federalist is the most important contribution of this impressive book. As an American who admires Trudeau, this book is a god-send!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Nov. 30 2009
This book is an excellent review of Trudeau's life before entering politics. John English's access to Trudeau's private archives gives a full picture of the man, looking both at his private and public life, his impressive studies, world trips as well as his ultimate ascension into the realm of politics. A great book for any Canadian interested in this great political figure.

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