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Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner Hardcover – Oct 21 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 536 pages
  • Publisher: UBC Press; Canadian First edition (Oct. 21 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0774822643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0774822640
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 998 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #270,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


If John Turner had been elected prime minister, Canada would be an entirely different country ... there would never have been a Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the Bloc Quebecois and Reform parties would likely not have been formed and 'the fiscal base for Canadian social democracy would have been stronger and social programs better preserved under a Turner administration,' according to a new biography on the former prime minister by Carleton University professor Paul Litt. -- Bea Vongdouangchanh The Hill Times A compelling biography of a tragic political figure ... [and] an important history of Canadian politics in the 1970s and 1980s and, most important, chronicled the first years of the decades-long self-immolation of a once-great political party. -- John Ibbitson The Globe and Mail New biography of Turner ... is a valuable, new addition to that recorded history ... the book chronicles Turner's political career through some powerful Liberal highs and lows of the latter half of the 20th century. -- Susan Delacourt The Toronto Star Exhaustively detailed and based on interviews with key people, including Turner himself, the book provides the first complete account of a man whose rise and fall still stands as one of Canada's most intriguing political stories. -- Mark Kennedy Postmedia News Former prime minister John Turner's life and career receive appropriate recognition in Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner, one of the best Canadian political books of the year. -- L. Ian MacDonald Montreal Gazette Is it time to revisit the record of John Turner? Thanks to biographer Paul Litt, and his new book on John Turner, the answer is yes. -- Michael Harris iPolitics


There is much in this biography that I witnessed personally - from John Turner's friendship with my father to his very successful tenure as finance minister; from his leadership of the Liberal Party to his integrity, his belief in the political process, and his love of country. There is also much that I viewed only from afar. The insights to be gained from reading this book will be important to anyone interested in the events and debates that signposted the evolution of postwar Canada. John Turners' is a life well worth knowing and this fascinating book is well worth reading.


This is an important book, presenting not only a former prime minister but also a man who was at the centre of many of the defining issues of the 1980s in Canada, including Meech Lake and the free trade debates. The narrative is compelling and contains rich new material of interest to scholars and general readers alike. Clearly John Turner is a man who found himself in the right place at the wrong time - brought down partly by personal failings, but more significantly by a combination of bad luck and the deliberate acts of rivals.

(Brooke Jeffrey, former Liberal adviser and author of Divided Loyalties: The Liberal Party of Canada, 1984-2008)

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