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Rewews CANADA Mike: The Memoirso[ theRight HonourableLesterB. Pearson. II •897-•948. Toronto,University of TorontoPress, I97•. Pp. xxii, 3o•, illus.$•.5 o. Mike isan unusual title for a primeministerial autobiography, and itsauthor wasan unusualman who modestly revealshimselœ as one in whom common virtueswereelevatedto uncommon heights. His versatility attractedoffersas disparate asthe directorship of a university athletics programme and the presidency of theRockefeller Foundation, all beforehe became a cabinetminister. Almostwithouttryinghewontheconfidence of a widerangeof worldleaders, andheknewwhy.Whenhereached thesummit ofthediplomatic service in 1946 heassessed hisprogress: 'I haddoneit byhardworkandlonghours, bymaking it evidentthat I wasavailable for whateverwasto bedone;bywelcoming every opportunity for newandmoreresponsible duties;andby accumulating all the experience possible in all thevariedaspects of my profession.' If Mackenzie King hadwrittenthat sentence, anyreaderof hisdiarymight feela certainscepticism; thesame wordsin Mike impress oneastheunadorned truth, for amongthe subjects he viewedwith a good-natured and irreverent objectivity washimself. King (whoappears asanexacting andsometimes inscrutable master) more than onceconfidedto his diary how Pearson's practical idealism ontheinternational scene, leadingasit sooftendid to saying or, worse, doingsomething, madehim nervous; and thisbook,amongotherthings, shows why. (As late as i948, indeed,King feared that Pearsonwas 'much too immature .') Pearson, a civilservantthroughout mostof thisvolume,heldviewsa generation aheadof thegovernment he served, and oneof the fascinating elements in hischronicle ishistireless patience in seeking goals that seemed impossibleof attainment. His non-political careerspanned World War •, anda longer sequence of the yearswhenCanadafreedherselffrom the Britishweb onlyto REVIEWS 195 become enmeshed in theAmerican;in all cases Pearson playeda leadingpart in insisting onCanada's independence anddistinctiveness. Butfromfirstto lasthe believed, ashesaidinoneofhisaphorisms: 'International co-operation forpeace isthemostimportantaspect of nationalpolicy.' Manyoftheevents hewritesaboutaresofamiliarthatit isnotalways easy to isolateeither Pearson's or Canada'scontributions. This is not necessarily the author's fault, for Pearson wasan observer of acuteperceptions, and hiscomments evenonthefamiliararemarkedbyawit andcompassion thatputhisautobiography almost in a class byitself.His approach is largelychronological, his proseeffortless and lucid; it is onlytowardsthe end,indeed (a word Pearson liked), whenhe triesto catchup onseveral major topics in a summary fashion thatbreaks into hischronology, that the bookbecomes ratherunevenand episodic . The lastchapter,wherehepicksup theroutineof a deputyministership in Ottawa'sintroverted circles afterexcitingtimesin London,Washington, San Francisco, and elsewhere, issaved from beinga let-downby hiselevationto a portfolio- a promotionPearson would not have acceptedfrom King, but welcomed from St Laurent. He movedinto the politicalsphere(in considerable ignorance,as he freely records, of what it waslike) because of thewiderauthorityand opportunity it offered topursue hisgoals(andtherearediscreptancies between hisowndescriptionof hismotives, andKing's). Pearson at fifty-one,despite the achievements whichled to hisnomination assecretary generalof the United Nations(a post hewouldhavetaken) had enjoyedhisbrilliantcareerin the successive shelters of academe andthecivilservice. His eminence in thediplomatic world wassuch that it is difficultwhenreadinghisaccountto rememberhislater beleaguered years asprimeminister(a second elevation foreseen and favouredby thewily King). In amannerreminiscent ofMeighen's career, Pearson's risetotheheights wasoneofalmost unbroken success, andmajorsetbacks camelater;butPearson's skills in themanagement ofmenandtheappreciation of issues, andhistolerance ofthehumanfrailties thatgiveevenhighdiplomacy itspettyside, weretomake him the more resilient. Severalpassages in the booklook forward to later volumes,and the whole of this first volume leads a reader to do the same. It is clear that when Pearson chose a diplomatic career theworldlosta finewriter,andit waslucky.Despite thefrustrations andhorrors through whichMike threaded hiswayasa diplomat of themid-twentieth century, hisjoyous spiritleadsoneto feelthat theremay yetbehopeformankind. NORMAN WARD University o[ Saskatchewan The Storyo[ Toronto.c.1,.D•.T.C•.aZ•.•ROOK. Toronto,Universityof Toronto Press, x97 x.Pp.xii, 3xo,maps, illus.$x3.75. Thewritingofa one-volume survey of thehistory of a metropolitan centre,even oneasyoung asToronto,presents several formidable problems whichcaneasily ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 194-195
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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