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John English

Toronto, Lester & Open Dennys, 1989. 428pp, cloth, $28.95
ISBN 0-88619-165-3. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

I used to think that former prime minister Lester B. (Mike) Pearson was dull - at least he seemed to be, com­pared with his successor, Pierre Trudeau. After reading Shadow of Heaven I have changed my mind. Mike Pearson, at least in his early years, was one of the most interesting Canadians I have ever read about.

Pearson was the son of a Methodist minister, and his childhood was quite ordinary. But after he entered university, his life was rich and rewarding. Life at both the University of Toronto and Oxford University was full of excitement. Pearson lived life to the full at both, spending far more time at sports and other extra-curricular activities than he did on his studies. Even though he often ignored his books, he was intelligent enough to pass his exams easily. Outgoing and popular, he made friends with many interesting people. This ability to make friends with stimulating people stayed with him after he left university.

The pattern of living he established at university stayed with him in later years. He tried a number of jobs, including teaching at the University of Toronto, but his career didn't take off until he joined the Department of External Affairs in 1928. Here, his unique blend of talents perfectly fitted the needs of Canada's young but growing civil service. While at External Affairs Pearson found his job challeng­ing, and he made a significant contribu­tion to Canada's foreign policy. He was also involved in many important events before, during and after World War II.

John English teaches history at the University of Waterloo. His book is well researched and a pleasure to read. To make it more interesting, he has in­cluded many fascinating anecdotes about Pearson. These will, I am sure, help to establish Pearson's reputation as one of our more unusual leaders.

Thomas F. Chambers, Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology, North Bay, Ont.
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