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New Book by Trent Professor Shortlisted for Dafoe Book Prize

Award-winning author and historian Dr. Robert Wright pens another blockbuster in Trudeaumania: The Rise to Power of Pierre Elliott Trudeau


As a new wave of Trudeaumania sweeps the country and Justin Trudeau settles into his second year as our nation’s leader, a new historical account of Trudeau Sr. has been penned by Trent University Durham - GTA history professor Dr. Robert Wright. Trudeaumania: The Rise to Power of Pierre Elliot Trudeau is drumming up enthusiasm reminiscent of the Canadian political scene in the late 60s during Trudeau’s leadership race.

Since its release, late last year, Prof. Wright’s book has been garnering rave reviews from national news outlets, blogs and journalists, including Maclean’s Magazine, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and others and has just been shortlisted for the J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, an award devoted to non-fiction excellence about Canada, Canadians and the Canadian nation in international affairs.

 “Justin's recent rise to power was part of the inspiration for a fresh look at what the first version of Trudeaumania looked and felt like,” noted Prof. Wright when asked why he decided to delve into Trudeau’s political history for his latest book. “We're still living in Pierre Trudeau's Canada, in many important respects.  The Charter, for example, has grown into one of Canadians' most powerful identity markers, so when Canadians turn their minds to lofty questions about what kind of country they imagine for themselves and their children, many hearken back to Trudeau and his ideas.”

The best-selling author of an impressive eight books, including others that explore aspects of Trudeau’s political past, Prof. Wright takes a distinctively unique approach to his latest work. Prof. Wright argues that the social and cultural “mania” that ensued during Trudeau’s race for leadership was not what led him to victory, but rather that it was his political intellect and carefully crafted ideals that ushered him in to the House of Commons in 1968.

The book’s prologue frames Prof. Wright’s main argument, describing Trudeau’s fanfare as, “Canada’s own Camelot myth. It embodies the quirkiness, the passion and the youthful exuberance we ascribe to the 1960s even now. Many of us cherish it. Unfortunately, it is almost entirely wrong. In 1968 Trudeau put forward his vision for Canada’s second century, without guile, without dissembling and without a hard sell.”

As his book continues to amass glowing reviews, Prof. Wright also shines a light on our current political climate in Canada, using the research he gathered while crafting his book. “Justin Trudeau has a well-earned reputation for being gregarious and populist in a way that his father never was.  But beneath this veneer, he has imbibed his father's fundamental political convictions.  Justin has said that the nation can never form the basis of the state, and also that group rights can never trump the rights of individuals. These are Pierre's signature ideas.”

The Dafoe book prize winner will be announced later this spring at a special dinner celebration in Winnipeg.

The book prize memorializes John Wesley Dafoe, a 20th century Canadian editor. In his tenure at the Manitoba Free Press, later renamed the Winnipeg Free Press, from 1901-1944, Dafoe was known for his advocacy of western development, free trade, and national independence. His case for adoption by Britain of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 advanced the severance of formal ties with Empire and created the eight dominions, which became the nucleus of the present 54-nation Commonwealth.

Posted on Friday, March 31, 2017.

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