John A: The Man Who Made Us (The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald - Volume One: 1815-1867)

John A: The Man Who Made Us (The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald - Volume One: 1815-1867) The First Full Scale Biography Of Canada S First Prime Minister In Half A Century By One Of Our Best Known And Most Highly Regarded Political WritersThe First Volume Of Richard Gwyn S Definitive Biography Of John A Macdonald Follows His Life From His Birth In Scotland InTo His Emigration With His Family To Kingston, Ontario, To His Days As A Young, Rising Lawyer, To His Tragedy Ridden First Marriage, To The Birth Of His Political Ambitions, To His Commitment To The All But Impossible Challenge Of Achieving Confederation, To His Presiding, With His Second Wife Agnes, Over The First Canada Day Of The New Dominion InColourful, Intensely Human And With A Full Measure Of Human Frailties, Macdonald Was Beyond Question Canada S Most Important Prime Minister This Volume Describes How Macdonald Developed Canada S First True National Political Party, Encompassing French And English And Occupying The Centre Of The Political Spectrum To Perpetuate This Party, Macdonald Made Systematic Use Of Patronage To Recruit Talent And To Bond Supporters, A System Of Politics That Continues To This Day Gwyn Judges That Macdonald, If Operating On A Small Stage, Possessed Political Skills Of Manipulation And Deception As Well As An Extraordinary Grasp Of Human Nature Of The Same Calibre As The Greats Of His Time, Such As Disraeli And Lincoln Confederation Is The Centerpiece Here, And Gywn S Commentary On Macdonald S Pivotal Role Is Original And Provocative But His Most Striking Analysis Is That The Greatest Accomplishment Of Nineteenth Century Canadians Was Not Confederation, But Rather To Decide Not To Become Americans Macdonald Saw Confederation As A Means To An End, Its Purpose Being To Serve As A Loud And Clear Demonstration Of The Existence Of A National Will To Survive The Two Threats Macdonald Had To Contend With Were Those Of Annexation By The United States, Perhaps By Force, Perhaps By Osmosis, And Equally That Britain Just Might Let That Annexation Happen To Avoid A Conflict With The Continent S New And Unbeatable Power Gwyn Describes Macdonald As Canada S First Anti American And In Pages Brimming With Anecdote, Insight, Detail And Originality, He Has Created An Indelible Portrait Of The Irreplaceable Man, The Man Who Made UsMacdonald Hadn T So Much Created A Nation As Manipulated And Seduced And Connived And Bullied It Into Existence Against The Wishes Of Most Of Its Own Citizens Now That Confederation Was Done, Macdonald Would Have To Do It All Over Again Having Conjured Up A Child Nation He Would Have To Nurture It Through Adolescence Towards Adulthood How He Did This Is, However, Another Story He Never Made The Least Attempt To Hide His Vice, Unlike, Say, His Contemporary, William Gladstone, With His Sallies Across London To Save Prostitutes, Or Mackenzie King With His Crystal Ball Gazing Not Only Was Macdonald Entirely Unashamed Of His Behaviour, He Often Actually Drew Attention To It, As In His Famous Response To A Heckler Who Accused Him Of Being Drunk At A Public Meeting Yes, But The People Would Prefer John A Drunk To George Brown Sober There Was No Hypocrisy In Macdonald S Make Up, Nor Any Fearfrom John A Macdonald


☃ John A: The Man Who Made Us (The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald - Volume One: 1815-1867) PDF / Epub ✑ Author Richard Gwyn –
  • Hardcover
  • 528 pages
  • John A: The Man Who Made Us (The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald - Volume One: 1815-1867)
  • Richard Gwyn
  • English
  • 23 July 2019
  • 9780679314752

10 thoughts on “John A: The Man Who Made Us (The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald - Volume One: 1815-1867)

  1. says:

    Gwyn wastes no time in admitting that he is not the eminent Canadian historian Donald Creighton and never hopes to fill those shoes He does use some of Creighton s work and a plethora of other historical documents to lay the foundation for what is sure to be a great biographical voyage, set in two volumes, as Creighton did for John A as well 60 years ago These pieces of history documents, photos, speeches, legislative records, personal letters help bring Macdonald to life, assisting with a thorough depiction of the man most know as Canada s first Prime Minister and the literal face of the ten dollar bill.Gwyn uses Volume One to give the great story of Macdonald s life and how he came to be titled the first Prime Minister of the new Dominion of Canada From his immigration to Upper Canada at age five to the establishment of a law firm and eventual marriage, Gwyn personifies Macdonald s story, which is complex that either the deity or a drunkard complex presented to many who have opened a Canadian history textbook Gwyn does not shy away from Macdonald s love of drink, in fact he pulls up many documents that show others noted his character change during such times and how it left him unable to function normally However, Gwyn also exemplifies the precise political know how Macdonald possessed and his ability to read people at first glance Climbing the ladder upon entry into the United Canada legislature, Macdonald forged a way to the top rung and made a name for himself as well as an enemy or two along the way.Volume One is solely pre Confederation, save the latter part of the final chapter, and does obviously spend a great deal of time on the matter of the British North American colonies, as well as the predicament in which they find themselves in the 1860s Arguing both of the hunger by the United States before and during their Civil War to annex the colonies and Britain s tepidness towards them humming and hawing about how to cut their financial and military ties , Gwyn presents the conundrum that leaves Macdonald and his fellow legislators in a precarious spot Gwyn does an excellent job summarising some of both sides of the argument, as well as introducing key players in the process It was a Macdonald belief that in order to remain British, we have to become Canadian Gwyn s research and evidence leads the reader towards this inevitable need as well.Even for the political history nut, Gwyn s text explains some of the key happenings and mergers that help make Macdonald the politician he became The book presents itself in a lively and interesting manner, free of age old boring rhetoric or textbook dryness History comes to life at Gwyn s light hearted retelling of numerous tales and the narrative remains highly neutral, giving the reins of decision over to the reader, where they may decide in which camp to place Macdonald on the Canadian history spectrum.Kudos Mr Gwyn on the first Volume I am sure the second, where Canadian politics gets much dirtier, will be just as entertaining.

  2. says:

    Well, the struggle for Confederation still isn t likely going to be made into a blockbuster action film, but I enjoyed Gwyn s elegant and revealing portrait of this flawed but wily and tenacious leader He comes through as an enigmatic but fascinating and likable character Of course I knew the ending at least of the first Volume but I had little idea how few people were really behind this idea of creating a nation from a collection of colonies Most fascinating were the many instances of how the process, and in particular Macdonald s influence over it, have shaped the nature of our political discourse ever since I am quite keen to read the second volume, including the triumph of the railway and the disaster of the Metis conflict.

  3. says:

    Incredibly detailed biography on the founder and first prime minister of Canada Covers than Macdonald himself but also the history of geopolitics that made up the various provinces and what led them to confederation.

  4. says:

    Well, it s not light reading, but it is worth the effort I intended to get it, and its sequel Nation Maker , read last year for Canada s 150th birthday, but life had other plans so I m getting them done now.It s very readable, not always something you can say about history books, and though I did get bogged down in the politics now and then, most of it was interesting It s full of great anecdotes about the development of Canada though the 1800s, descriptions of how our cities got started and what life was like in those places at that time There was so much I didn t know about our relationship with the U.S through those years and up to Confederation, and I found that eye opening It also showed me, up close, the personalities I ve only known as the Fathers of Confederation Now I see them as real people, with strengths and talents, and foibles and flaws, and the result is they are far interesting to me I m looking forward to the sequel.

  5. says:

    Biography of Sir Macdonald earlier family years, his education and his entry in the politics was very interesting Initially Macdonald started as a lawyer and entered politics much later.In Nineteenth century writer shows how difficult it was for immigrants to survive in Canada compared to the immigrants of the later years Lack of roads, houses which were made of logs, no sewage system, no power or heating and hard labour made it very difficult for families survival In those times life span was very short Recent immigrants have it far easier life.In last 200 years there are differences still existing between Quebec and rest of English Canada Also the sad fact remains that Aboriginals of Canada have become under privileged and mistreated in the very land that belongs to them while immigrants who call Canada their home have gained the most out of confederation. Richard Gwyn is a very good history writer I enjoyed Gwyn s Vol II than Vol.I that may be due to my mistake in reading Vol II first and Vol I later Anyone who enjoys biography and history would definitely love reading Sir Macdonald.

  6. says:

    I made the mistake of partially reading Vol II before I read Vol I of this 2 volume set of books by Richard Gwyn However, I didn t find it too disorientating to go back and forth between the 2 I feel these books should be required reading for anyone attempting to understand Canada, its political system and how we got to where we are today both in our national accomplishments and problems that are within the country today.Gwyn s research is extensive and his manner of writing clear and concise He doesn t make the subject dry or boring and holds your interest throughout the tome which in hard copy is very daunting in size I heartily recommend it

  7. says:

    I bought this book based on positive reviews I had read and I was looking forward to gaining some insight into the life of our notoriously fun loving first PM Sadly, this book didn t deliver Aside from a few anecdotes, the text focusses almost exclusively on Macdonald s political relationships and ideas against the backdrop of the political turmoil of the times I was hoping for of a social history of the man a biography, the jacket advertises this to be and got instead a lesson in politics Not a bad book, peppered with illustrations, but not what I was looking for.

  8. says:

    There s much to like about this first in Gwyn s two volume biography of Macdonald, which ends with the achievement of Confederation in 1867 The book nicely lays out Macdonald s reliance on personal charm, and on a remarkable memory and ability to think on his feet It reminds readers how attitudes and public life differed in the mid 1800s the popularity of public hangings the lack of a piped supply of fresh water in Ottawa even in 1867 the restriction of voting rights to perhaps 15% of the male population the naked use of political patronage etc It does a good job of laying out the state of political institutions in pre Confederation Canada and the details of progress toward a Confederation agreement It also injects some telling anecdotes the lavish use of secret funding Gwyn does not use the word bribes to ensure a safe outcome in the 1866 New Brunswick election the surprising origins of the famous phrase peace, order and good government But the many annoyances limit my most generous potential rating to a maximum 3.5 plus stars Gwyn is fond of making pronouncements that is to say, sweeping and sometimes arguable assertions with no evidence presented to support them There are a few too many faddishly ephemeral word choices such as the vision thing The story jumps ahead in fits and starts by a year or two to explore a particular subject, then goes back to take up where it left off with few reminders of what year is being discussed, the result can be confusing, and in fact the narrative seems to confuse chronology in at least two instances Gwyn insists that Macdonald seemed to support the idea of Confederation in the early 1860s purely for tactical purposes rather than out of deep belief, but undercuts that argument with his own descriptions of Macdonald s state of mind after 1865 And while the story, intended as popular history, is rich in well presented fact, it generally lacks the vigour and drive that a Pierre Berton would have brought to it Macdonald himself flares to life on a number of the pages but sinks back almost to the level of boring textbook name on others If I want to take on the post 1867 part of the story I ll probably look up Donald Creighton s 1952 biography, which Gwyn concedes both inspired and intimidated him.

  9. says:

    Really enjoyed this fascinating book It is the first half of a two volume set I will read the second book next.My knowledge of part of Canadian history was week and knew little about MacDonald This book is not just about the man but about why Canada is the way it is It shows why the British North America act BNA was drafted the way it was I know why Canada is a dominion Why the languages are protected the way they are How the senate was formed Having recently read The Return of George Washington and the drafting of the US constitution, it is interesting to contrast the process in each country MacDonald has a narrow window of time, while the US drafters had no deadline As I like both politics and history read about the process in both countries was very enjoyable.The book is also about the man His was mixture of contrasts A man who could stay focused on task with a laser focus A man who would routinely drink himself in a stupor for days In time when many drank heavily he was seen as a heavy drunk A charming man noted for being very comfortable around women, who had friends throughout Canadian society, with very few enemies who buried himself in his work or drank himself in into oblivion.I could keep going but instead I will just say read the book.

  10. says:

    This book covers the life of Sir John A Macdonald up to the achievement of Confederation in 1867 It is a much needed updated, full scale biography of Canada s first Prime Minister it has a volume two The book gives the reader a clear picture of a remarkably talented politician and leader The personal tragedies and complex political system Macdonald experienced prior to Confederation shaped the leader he became The author paints a picture of a wily, intelligent politician, who could connect with the people in a way unmatched in our history Macdonald had great gifts for politics and than anyone else, the long term vision to achieve Confederation Above all, he wanted to prevent British North America from falling into American hands The longer I think about Confederation, the I agree with the author that Canadians may not have avoided American annexation without an extraordinary leader like Macdonald.

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