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King: William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny Hardcover – Sep 16 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 552 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 16 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781553655602
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553655602
  • ASIN: 1553655605
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 821 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #188,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Here we have Allan Levine, one of the aces of Canadian historical chronicles, channelling Mackenzie King. And what a story they have to tell: our longest-serving prime minister, getting advice from his dog and having two-way conversations with his long-dead mother. If Canadian history was ever dull, it isn't now. Get this book." (Peter C. Newman 2011-06-27)

"Allan Levine had no shortage of peculiar personal details to make use of in his biography of Canada's longest serving P.M." (Quill & Quire 2011-09-01)

"If the world needed evidence to disprove the notion we need to know as much as possible about our political leaders, it's between the covers of Allan Levine's new biography of William Lyon Mackenzie King...William Lyon Mackenzie King: A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny must therefore be treated as a skillful introduction to one of the most important and perplexing personalities to hold the highest political post in Canada." (Kelly McParland National Post 2011-09-30)

"Allan Levine gave himself the mission of turning this dull but eccentric Canadian into a subject worthy of contemporary discussion. He succeeds, bringing to life the inner thoughts of his subject as best anyone can." (Donald Benham Winnipeg Free Press 2011-10-01)

"In this endeavour, Levine has succeeded masterfully...By examining King's personality and politics as two sides of the same coin, Levine has produced a wonderfully comprehensive portrait of this intensely disagreeable -- yet critically important -- Canadian."

(Quill & Quire 2011-12-01)

"...until now no one has ever done as magisterial a job as Levine in fusing King's many parts into a complex but comprehensible whole..."

(Maclean's Magazine 2011-11-28)

"If anyone doubted that King spent a lot of time in la-la land, they need only read Mr. Levine's intriguing account, one that fleshes out new material from his voluminous diaries."

(Globe & Mail 2011-11-07)

"...his book is perceptive and eminently readable. Levine's discussion of King's personality is excellent...(Levine) has ably shown that King was important and remarkable." (Literary Review of Canada 2011-12-01)

"This first major biography of Mackenzie King in 30 years is a guide to the deep and often moving inner conflicts that haunted Mackenzie King. With animated prose and a subtle wit, Allan Levine draws a multidimensional portrait of this most compelling of politicians." (Canada's History 2012-01-01)

" outstanding biography of Canada's longest-reigning prime minister." (Marian Scott Montreal Gazette 2012-01-20)

"In King, Allan Levine gives us a readable, comprehensive account of a prime minister we ought to know about. He also reminds us that, in ever-changing ways, King haunts us still." (Allan Levine Globe & Mail 2012-02-14)

"...This is an informative, authoritative study that's also entertaining and even witty...The book has some delightfully waspish comments from Levine...This is a worthy biography of an important individual. If he could, I'm sure William Lyon Mackenzie King would read and enjoy it, in Levine's phrase, with 'as much humility as he was capable of showing.'" (Uptown Magazine 2012-03-22)

"King fairly trips along, serving up great dollops from King's legendary diary to explain the lonely Victorian romantic behind the politics...Levine is a careful historian, and his judgments usually reflect the detailed work of earlier, more expert scholars, whom he credits generously in his text...Moreover, Levine's text is accessible and readable..." (Greg Donaghy Humanities and Social Sciences Net 2012-05-01)

"Allan Levine's King: William Lyon MacKenzie King is more a biography of King the man than King the politician...Levineís biography of King is very much worth reading. Levine is skilled with his prose and entertaining in his conclusions." (Craig Westcott The Business Post 2012-05-23)

About the Author

Allan Levine is an award-winning author and historian who has written ten books. He is a historical consultant on the documentary Jewish Partisans currently under production by Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker Julia Mintz. A diverse author who moves easily between popular non-fiction and fiction, he has written four historical mysteries. His first mystery, The Blood Libel, won the Margaret McWilliams Medal for Best Historical Fiction and was nominated for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Arthur Ellis First Mystery Novel Award. He lives in Winnipeg.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm surprised that no one has reviewed this book yet, so here goes. This is a very good biography. It is well-written and judicious, and the narrative moves along briskly, never getting bogged down in details. If you only want to read one biography of King, this should be it.
As Levine makes clear, King was not a very likeable human being. He was extraordinarily vain, prissy, petty, vindictive, and often cruel to subordinates. He also shared many of the prejudices of his time, like anti-Semitism. And there's his obsession with spiritualism and his dead mother, which, although perhaps understandable in a lonely man with few friends or family, is hard to swallow at times. Still, Levine does not reduce King to a caricature, and reminds us that, for all his faults, he was a gifted politician. After all, you don't survive in politics as long as King without an extraordinary degree of talent.
Kudos to Levine for a fine effort.
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Format: Hardcover
Allan Levine---the author of ten additional books , many op-ed pieces, and other publications---has delivered a 515 page (including 24 pages of pictures) comprehensive biographical annount of one of Canada's most important, accomplished, and successful Liberal prime ministers. King, who enjoyed a workaholic intellect, also established the Liberal Party as Canada's "natural governing party" ; and is the only Canadian prime minister to hold a doctorate from Harvard University.This Levine book is generally considered to be the most extensive and comprehensive work on King published to date in Canada.
By all accounts, King---Canada's longest serving prime minister---was also one of Canada's most distinctive and curious prime ministers; suffered from a lifetime of depression; and was a Christian humanist , and a civil libertarian. Levine carefully notes that King, who was a pragmatic and acceptionally partisan politician, was also a "...walking textbook example of an insecure passive-aggresive male...". The book is a provocative amalgam of King's successful politics, personal life, and mystical spiritualist practices. Levine argues that, in reading King, readers should not separate his mystical side from his role as the prime minister of Canada. In this regard Levine states that " understanding of his public career and private interests can be achieved without considering the whole crazy package...". Crazy package indeed.
King, a bachelor, was well known for his unusual mystical practices ; gazing into crystal balls; and what is commonly called "channeling" today. King belived he was in regular "communication" with his dead mother, among many others. He was also autocratic, and selfish, albeit a huge political success.
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Format: Hardcover
Levine's biography of King walks a fine line between exposing and understanding the man's faults and eccentricities and displaying the gifts that made him Canada's most successful and greatest prime minister. The reasons for King's successes are hard to fathom, nonetheless. The great strengths of other notable leaders just seem to be absent. But King was deceptive and contradictory that way. He was a gifted man who nonetheless was able to put gifted men in his cabinet and was ready to make the key alliances necessary for sustained success in Quebec. And sometimes, of course, especially with his opposition, he was just lucky. Maybe we just have to call it destiny and leave it at that.

A fine biography that may not unlock King's mystery, but at least lets us look at him from all angles.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Way too much of the author's time was spent focused on King's belief in the occult and listening to fortune-tellers. I would have liked to have had more detail about what was happening in government at the time; who said what, why, when, and where.

Perhaps just having finished "The Last Lion" sequence, I expected too much
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa44ca5e8) out of 5 stars 1 review
HASH(0xa44a0438) out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant March 6 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
A balanced look at the life of one of Canada’s most significant leaders. It may be hard to like the man but you can’t deny his accomplishments and longevity in politics during a period of time when politics appeared more ruthless and uncontrolled than today’s environment.
The author has done a wonderful job of assembling a plethora of relevant information and weaving it into an interesting account of Canada’s history. A great portrayal of the individuals whose names we toss around in reference to the second half of Canada’s first century.
I found it fascinating to read about the early history of people whom I knew as elder statesmen in my younger years.
This is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the country’s past.