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From the archives

Paper Rout

Postmedia in the gutter

Past Trauma

Richard Wagamese and an Indigenous literary resurgence

Family Pride

Profiles in gay life

John English

John English has recently published Ice and Water: Politics, Peoples and the Arctic Council (Allen Lane, 2013). He has written biographies of prime ministers Robert Borden, Arthur Meighen, Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Articles by
John English

Bio Politics

What election-season biographies reveal about two elusive candidates October 2015
Louis St. Laurent served as Canada’s prime minister from November 1948 until June 1957, but not a single biography appeared until his former secretary published one in 1968. Robert Borden was prime minister even longer, but lacked a biography until his nephew collated some chapters Borden had written and published them a year after Borden’s death in…

A Tribunal Born of Fear and Hope

How a Canadian judge forced Slobodan Milosevic to face his accusers April 2004
At the dawn of the Cold War’s end, old dreams of an effective multilateral system based upon the rule of law and democratic public opinion returned. Senior United Nations officials and Scandinavian foreign ministers, as well as George Bush Sr’s speechwriters, pored over dusty volumes of Woodrow Wilson’s speeches. The first Gulf War, unlike the…

Heroes and Windbags

A search for political meaning, from Machiavelli to Weber and beyond December 2013
Long ago, when Pierre Trudeau arrived as prime minister and Liberal Party leader at 24 Sussex Drive, he met the fabled Liberal political wizards gathered at his dining room table. Recalling his Conservative father’s rants about the terrifying Liberal machine, he asked the admen, pollsters and plotters before him, “Is this all there is?” Michael Ignatieff probably should have asked the same question when “the Toronto Three”—two Bay Street…

A Profitable Pen

Winston Churchill’s other career November 2012
When the British Houses of Parliament honoured Winston Churchill on his 80th birthday in 1954, he told the lords and members of Parliament that “if I found the right words, you must remember that I have always earned my living by my pen and by my tongue.” In Mr. Churchill’s Profession: The Statesman as Author and the Book That Defined the “Special Relationship,” Peter…

An Unsentimental Portrait

From its realism, intensity and wrinkles emerges a Macdonald for our times December 2011
Upon finishing Richard Gwyn’s excellent biography Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times, I know our first prime minister much better. Surprisingly, I like him less. Gwyn himself admires Macdonald and describes those qualities that attracted Macdonald’s contemporaries and Canadians more generally to him: his generosity of spirit; his ability to move easily among kings and…