________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Pierre Elliott Trudeau: The Fascinating Life of Canada’s Most Flamboyant Prime Minister. (Amazing Stories).

Stan Sauerwein.
Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing (Distributed by Knowbuddy Resources), 2004.
134 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55153-945-4.

Subject Headings:
Trudeau, Pierre Elliott, 1919-2000.
Canada-Politics and government-1963-1984.
Prime ministers-Canada-Biography.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** / 4


He took up residence at 24 Sussex Drive, the dwelling on a cliff overlooking the Ottawa River that became available to the head of government in 1955. It was probably a good thing it came with the job because going by his history, the new Canadian prime minister may otherwise have decided to live in a hotel room. Throughout his adult life, Trudeau had lived like a vagabond.

The life and legacy of one of our "Greatest Canadians" is explored in this "Amazing Stories" biography. Early chapters provide information on Trudeau's childhood. Even as a young boy, he displayed characteristics that would later become his trademarks, such as protesting against injustice, never backing down from a dare, and eagerly confronting bullies.

     An overview is given of Trudeau's early forays into political activism, from being a "zealous orator" for Quebec miners during labour strikes, to developing his ideas about federalism while editing Cite Libre. Sauerwein traces Trudeau's quick rise in the ranks of the Pearson government and the resulting "Trudeaumania." The highs and lows of his prime ministerial career, such as the Official Languages Act, October Crisis, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are outlined. Trudeau's flaws are also discussed, including his ego, penchant for sarcastic comments, and his stormy relationship with Margaret Trudeau.

     Sauerwein condenses a lot of information into 10 readable chapters. Quotations from memoirs and published accounts add an immediacy to the narrative. The final chapter, "The Statesman Departs," describes the public reaction to Trudeau's death in 2000.

     Only four black and white photographs are included: the 1967 Pearson Cabinet with Trudeau, John Turner, and Jean Chretien; Trudeau signing autographs at the height of Trudeaumania; Margaret Trudeau; and Queen Elizabeth II signing the Constitution. More photographs would have enhanced the text.

     A bibliography at the back cites 14 books, all of which are at an adult reading level. Written for a younger audience, this biography of a man whom "the nation both abhorred and adored," is a worthy addition to public and school library collections.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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