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The Worldly Years

The Life of Lester B. Pearson, 1949-1972

by John English

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list price: $25.00
published: 1993
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada

"His life changed that of his nation." 

John English illuminates the years of Lester Pearson's greatest eminence, and vividly explores his life and times. His period as prime minister was to prove one of the most decisive in our history, and his policies helped shape Canada’s foremost international statesman. The Lester Pearson who emerges from the account of these momentous years—from the Korean War, through the tumultuous sixties to his death in 1972—is a complex, paradoxical figure.
A man uneasy with ambition, who shunned the flamboyance of his arch-rival Diefenbaker, Pearson nevertheless competed for the most glittering prize in Canadian political life. World recognition brought him the Nobel Peace Prize, yet in his battle to maintain independence for his country he deliberately incurred the wrath of its powerful traditional allies, particularly Lyndon Johnson whom he heartily disliked. He was oddly unprepared personally to take on Canada’s highest political office, and led the Liberal Party to the worst defeat in its history, yet went on to sponsor astonishing, far-reaching changes in Canadian society—bilingualism, biculturalism, medicare, modern Canadian nationalism, and co-operative federalism--all innovations of the Pearson years. And while he has been called our greatest prime minister, other see him as the leader of a government that created many of Canada’s discontents, and crises and scandals that swirled about him. Most paradoxically of all perhaps, this unassuming man became a national icon, winning a lasting place in the hearts and minds of a generation of Canadians.
In this second volume of his award-winning biography, John English has had remarkable access to Pearson’s personal and political papers, drawing on the letters and diaries and private papers of a host of his contemporaries, and on personal interviews with his family and friends, rivals and foes alike. The result is a compellingly readable—a richly detailed portrait of Canada and of a remarkable Canadian whose impact was immense.

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Editorial Review

"John English captures all Pearson's accomplishments in wonderful readable detail.  This unassuming man had the idea for the United Nations peacekeeping force, won the Nobel Peace Prize and dared to take a line internationally that didn't parrot, and sometimes angered, the Americans.  No Canadian since has approached Pearson's accomplishments in foreign affairs... The Worldly Years is pure pleasure and pure insight." --Calgary Herald
"What is fascinating is the way in which English gives you the impression that he is breathing in your ear all these new secrets...The result is a thorough examination of the man, with keen and surprising insights." --Windsor Star
"An outstanding biography.  The Worldly Years should be at the top of any list of Canadian biographies." --H. Blair Neatby, Ottawa Citizen

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