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Sawatsky, John
ISBN Toronto, McFarlane Walter & Ross, 1991. 576pp, cloth, $34.95, ISBN 0-921912-06-4. CIP

Grades 12 and up/Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Thomas F. Chambers

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

This is a biography of Brian Mulroney from his boyhood years in Baie Comeau to 1984, when he became Canada's prime minister. It is a fascinating story, which even those who strongly dislike the Prime Minister will find difficult to put down.

The portrait we get from John Sawatsky is of a man eager for success, but with no goal in life other than that. Brian Mulroney appears to have had few, if any, principles in either his business or his political careers. His success can be attributed to his remarkable communication skills and his ability to network with and use the people he came in contact with throughout his life.

Sawatsky, who has written a number of popular books, including Men in the Shadows: The RCMP Security Service, has been a political journalist since the mid-1970s. For this book, he and his associates conducted over 600 interviews. The result is a very good biography, well written and fair. It tells us a great deal about the Prime Minister and a lot more about Canadian politics than many introductory texts. Anyone wanting to learn more about the political process will find this a most rewarding book.

Even though Mulroney has done some questionable things along the road to 24 Sussex Drive, and these are all laid bare, we can't help but admire his gall and self-confidence. He has had the same influence on those who know him. The best example is former prime minister Joe Clark, who lost his leadership of the Conservative Party largely as a result of Mulroney, yet became one of his most loyal ministers.

The only weakness in this book is that Sawatsky did not list his written references. To do so would have increased its scholarly value.

Thomas F. Chambers teaches politics, economics and history at Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology in North Bay, Ontario.

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