Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Volume 1: 1919-1968
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One of the most important, exciting biographies of our time: the definitive, major two-volume biography of Pierre Elliott Trudeau – written with unprecedented, complete access to Trudeau’s enormous cache of private letters and papers.
Bestselling biographer John English gets behind the public record and existing glancing portraits of Trudeau to reveal the real man and the multiple influences that shaped his life, providing the full context lacking in all previous biographies to-date.
As prime minister between 1968 and 1984, Trudeau, the brilliant, controversial figure, intrigued Canadians and attracted international attention as no other Canadian leader has ever done. Volume One takes us from his birth in 1919 to his election as leader in 1968.
Born into a wealthy family in Montreal, Trudeau excelled at the best schools, graduating as a lawyer with conservative, nationalist and traditional Catholic views. But always conscious of his French-English heritage, desperate to know the outside world, and an adventurer to boot, he embarked on a pilgrimage of discovery – first to Harvard and the Sorbonne, then to the London School of Economics and, finally, on a trip through Europe, the Middle East, India and China. He was a changed man when he returned – socialist in his politics, sympathetic to labour, a friend to activists and writers in radical causes. Suddenly and surprisingly, he went to Ottawa for two mostly unhappy years as a public servant in the Privy Council Office. He frequently shocked his colleagues when, on the brink of a Quebec election, for example, he departed for New York or Europe on an extended tour. Yet in the 1950s and 60s, he wrote the most important articles outlining his political philosophy.
And there were the remarkable relationships with friends, women and especially his mother (whom he lived with until he was middle-aged). He wrote to them always, exchanging ideas with the men, intimacies with the women, especially in these early years, and lively descriptions of his life. He even recorded his in-depth psychoanalysis in Paris. This personal side of Trudeau has never been revealed before – and it sheds light on the politician and statesman he became.
Volume One ends with his entry into politics, his appointment as Minister of Justice, his meeting Margaret and his election as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada. There, his genius and charisma, his ambition and intellectual prowess, his ruthlessness and emotional character and his deliberate shaping of himself for leadership played out on the national stage and, when Lester B. Pearson announced his retirement as prime minister in 1968, there was but one obvious man for the job: Pierre Trudeau.
In 1938 Trudeau began a diary, which he continued for over two years. It is detailed, frank, and extraordinarily revealing. It is the only diary in Trudeau’s papers, apart from less personal travel diaries and an agenda for 1937 that contains some commentary. His diary expresses Trudeau’s own need to chronicle the moments of late adolescence as he tried to find his identity. It begins on New Year’s Day 1938 with the intriguing advice: “If you want to know my thoughts, read between the lines!”
–from Citizen of the World
The danger, he warned himself, was that he would fall in love and marry before he completed his education. He concluded his self-assessment: “The moral of all this is that I must continually work for perfection and become likable, obliging, and gallant (what a word! ). ” The trip continued, and, as he realized, it was as difficult to rule his family as Canada itself. In Edmonton they stayed at the grand Macdonald Hotel, where they met up with his Brébeuf friend Jean-Baptiste Boulanger and his family.
The Trudeau story is more wondrous than imagined. ” —The Globe and Mail “English’s work is very readable, balanced in judgment and of course deeply informed…. Trudeau’s energy, passion, ambition, wit, and intellectuality leap off the page, leaving this reader once again with a sense of the extraordinary nature of his life and character. ” —Winnipeg Free Press “John English has written a brilliant biography of the early life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau … Citizen of the World will be as commanding a book as Trudeau was himself.
Gérard Filion of Le Devoir called him a bohemian, but it was a peculiar bohemianism. He lived in his mother’s gracious house, where she or the servants looked after all his daily needs. He wore expensive clothes, drove a Jaguar first and then a treasured Mercedes 300SL convertible, courted stunningly beautiful young women, and travelled to foreign locales whenever he felt like it. He frequented the bars on Crescent and the galleries on Sherbrooke, and, after his mother became president of the Montreal Symphony women’s association in 1951, he often joined her in the finest seats at the concerts.
In 1992 Ron Graham asked Trudeau whether it was true that Claude Ryan had once told him to give up his wealth and that he had considered renouncing his inheritance at Harvard. He dismissed the rumour, though he added that, at Brébeuf, he had realized it was unfair that some students “were doing their homework … on the kitchen table with mother cooking the food and the rest of the family milling around and so on. And I felt it was a bit unfair that I should have a private room in my house to do work.
53 Lomer Gouin’s other son, Léon-Mercier Gouin, a prominent Montreal lawyer and Thérèse’s father, accepted an appointment to the Senate as a Liberal in 1940 and served as a deliberate Liberal contrast to Paul, who opposed the war and became associated with the Bloc populaire canadien in 1942. Rich, brilliant, attractive, and a student of psychology, Thérèse responded to Pierre’s loneliness. She was a godsend to him during his two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the spring of 1945, just as his despair about Harvard deepened, Thérèse replied to a despondent letter from Pierre by telling him that she would see him in Boston on a study trip in early June.