Trudeaumania in 2009

29 10 2009

Trudeau 1980

Trudeau Speaking in Montreal, 1980

Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000, the second volume of Professor John English’s authoritative biography of the great Prime Minister, has been published. The book’s revelations about Trudeau’s personal life have gotten a great deal of attention in the Canadian media. See here, here, here, and here.

The Quebec newspapers have had little to say about this book. Perhaps this will change next month, when the French translation appears. For a rare newspaper article in French about the book see here.

Paul Wells of Maclean’s Magazine thinks that Canadian historians pay too much attention to Trudeau.


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1 11 2009
Matthew Hayday

I finished Just Watch Me yesterday, and although my assessment of the book is more positive than Wells, he’s right that the post-84 period is insufficiently covered – and a few other issues, such as Canadian involvement in the Vietnam war, are completely overlooked!

However, it’s not the historians that have paid too much attention to Trudeau – at least if we’re talking professional historians – almost everything up until the English biographies has been written by political scientists, sociologists, journalists, and the like (with a few notable exceptions). I’m extremely pleased to see, from my own experience, that Trudeau has inspired an interest in political history among grad students. I’d be even more happy if that translates into a broader interest beyond the Trudeau years, which I’m already starting to see with students interested in the Mulroney years.

I realize that I don’t have to convince you, Andrew. But I think English has done a good job demonstrating that political biography can be compelling, and integrate both intricate cabinet-level discussions, and broad-based analyses of social trends, popular culture and economic history. Now if only Arthur Meighen had been involved with Fay Wray…

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