- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Random House Canada; 1 edition (Sept. 25 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067931475X
- ISBN-13: 978-0679314752
- Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.8 x 24.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 794 g
- Average Customer Review: 21 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #58,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
John A: The Man Who Made Us Hardcover – Sep 25 2007
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“Judging by the first half, his two-volume biography will no doubt be ranked with Donald Creighton’s two-book landmark from the 1950s…Gwyn provides a more dispassionate analysis of this complicated man and his times…A welcome addition to the national library.” -The National Post
“Gwyn has performed a service to 21st-century Canadians by recreating a man of the 19th so well…This is a book that [Donald] Creighton, and perhaps even Sir John A. himself, could pick up and learn something.” -Winnipeg Free Press
“A vivid, multi-dimensional portrait of a fascinating character and his times…Gwyn, his trademark wry wit enlivening his text, brings a lifetime of political punditry to bear on his subject, surely one of the most intriguing political figures Canada even produced” -Montreal Gazette
“Gwyn’s book is also a hymn of praise to what he sees as a miraculous country, miraculous in its peacefulness, its diversity, its tolerance and its determined un-Americanness…Those positive national qualities can be traced back unmistakably to its first leader. This is the personal and contemporary insight that distinguishes this biography.”- Toronto Star
“Through historical documents, Gwyn gives great insight into this complicated character and his turbulent life… John A comes alive in these pages on many levels, including his most fallible.”HaH - Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“In a lively but thorough biography of John A. Macdonald up to the day of Confederation in 1867, Richard Gwyn brings to life the young Scottish-born lawyer who found himself unexpectedly entering politics in Kingston in 1844. Gwyn writes from a twenty-first century perspective while painting for his readers a vivid image of nineteenth century Canada: its society, customs, characters and politics. Gwyn helps us understand Macdonald’s genius and vision, which would shape the nation that grew to the north of the United States."
- Charles Taylor Prize Jury
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, The Unlikely Revolutionary on Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood, and The Northern Magus on Pierre Elliot Trudeau. His most recent 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. Volume two of Gwyn’s biography of Macdonald will be published in 2009.See all Product description
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1. It's interesting for anyone who likes history, biographies or politics, and is very well researched.
2. It portrays Macdonald as very human. Not only does it point out his weaknesses (all too well known and discussed) but points out the reasons for his successes and offers reasons that he suffered.
3. It reminds me of Canadian history that I had forgotten and it helps explain why some of the current political events feel like they're going against the grain.
4. It is so clearly written that it can be put down for a while if work or life gets in the way, and then picked up again when time allows, and continued without too much difficulty.
Canada was unique and continues to be unique. It is sometimes a good thing to be remind of how good it is.
After reading the first volume, getting a hold of the second is a no-brainer.
He manages to make pre-Confederation parliament interesting. Usually in books about this time we get a lot about the Family Compact, but Gwyn has kept the focus on developments and personalities that I do not remember being featured in other Canadian history books.
I found the book bogged down slightly during the pages about Confederation which is why I only gave it 4 stars. It's hard to make political wrangling interesting, although I did find it fascinating that we were not quite the valued colony I had thought; Britain was pretty happy to let us go. Anti-Americanism literally made Canada a country but our fear of the American military after the U.S. Civil War never came to fruition. I have a keen interest in the U.S. Civil War so appreciated some analysis of how that affected Canada.
I can't wait for volume two!!! I'll be interested to compare Pierre Berton's writing about Macdonald in The National Dream and The Last Spike to what Richard Gwyn has to say about those times. This is an excellent book and it's wonderful to see a fresh treatment of this period in Canadian history.
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