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Schull, Joseph.

Toronto, Macmillan, 1965, 1987, 658pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-7715-9567-0 CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Jerry McDonnell

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

Joseph Schull's biography of Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been re-issued in paperback for the first time since it was published in 1965 and one can only say with enthusiasm that it has certainly stood the test of time.

Schull, who died in 1980, grew up in Moose Jaw and was educated at the University of Saskatchewan and Queen's University. After serving in the Canadian navy, he was a writer, radio dramatist, journalist, and author of a two-volume biography of Edward Blake, Laurier's predecessor as leader of the Liberal Party. All of these experiences have contributed to his fine literary style; his work remains very readable.

Like his biographer, Laurier came to mature pursuits with an interesting and varied past. His family was, of course, French Canadian and Roman Catholic, but Laurier spent part of his student career away from home attending an English school and living with a Protestant family. This was the beginning of his sympathy for British institutions and literature.

Another facet of Laurier's character was shaped by the family tradition of anti-clericalism. This would be a continuing problem and feature of a politician with Parti rouge connections. He always had an uneasy relationship with the Quebec clergy but it probably made easier the compromises necessary to keep Confederation together.

This book is as relevant now as in 1965 and if the earlier hardbound version is not already on the shelves, every secondary school, college, university and public library in Canada should purchase the paperback. It will be of interest to senior students and adult readers and useful for the study of Canadian history and politics.

Jerry McDonnell, F.E. Madill S.S., Wingham, Ont.
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