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Being Prime Minister

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Behind the politics, discover the lives of Canada's leaders. “What a life it is to be prime minister!” — John Diefenbaker Canada has had twenty-three prime ministers, all with views and policies that have differed as widely as the ages in which they lived. But what were they like as people? Being Prime Minister takes you behind the scenes to tell the story of Canada’s leader Behind the politics, discover the lives of Canada's leaders. “What a life it is to be prime minister!” — John Diefenbaker Canada has had twenty-three prime ministers, all with views and policies that have differed as widely as the ages in which they lived. But what were they like as people? Being Prime Minister takes you behind the scenes to tell the story of Canada’s leaders and the job they do as it has never been told before. From John A. Macdonald to Justin Trudeau, readers get a glimpse of the prime ministers as they travelled, dealt with invasions of privacy, met with celebrities, and managed the stress of the nation’s top job. Humorous and hard working, vain and vulnerable, Canada leaders are revealed as they truly were.


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Behind the politics, discover the lives of Canada's leaders. “What a life it is to be prime minister!” — John Diefenbaker Canada has had twenty-three prime ministers, all with views and policies that have differed as widely as the ages in which they lived. But what were they like as people? Being Prime Minister takes you behind the scenes to tell the story of Canada’s leader Behind the politics, discover the lives of Canada's leaders. “What a life it is to be prime minister!” — John Diefenbaker Canada has had twenty-three prime ministers, all with views and policies that have differed as widely as the ages in which they lived. But what were they like as people? Being Prime Minister takes you behind the scenes to tell the story of Canada’s leaders and the job they do as it has never been told before. From John A. Macdonald to Justin Trudeau, readers get a glimpse of the prime ministers as they travelled, dealt with invasions of privacy, met with celebrities, and managed the stress of the nation’s top job. Humorous and hard working, vain and vulnerable, Canada leaders are revealed as they truly were.

30 review for Being Prime Minister

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ferguson

    Disclosure: I read this book as an ARC from Dundurn Press, who is also my publisher. Being Prime Minister is a light-hearted look at the private lives of all 23 Canadian prime ministers since Confederation — John A MacDonald to Justin Trudeau. Researched using journals, diaries, media reports and, more recently, interviews with the PMs who agreed and their staff/colleagues. Author, J.K.M.Stewart considers the PMs family life, friendships, pastimes, pets, and how they de-stressed, amongst other rel Disclosure: I read this book as an ARC from Dundurn Press, who is also my publisher. Being Prime Minister is a light-hearted look at the private lives of all 23 Canadian prime ministers since Confederation — John A MacDonald to Justin Trudeau. Researched using journals, diaries, media reports and, more recently, interviews with the PMs who agreed and their staff/colleagues. Author, J.K.M.Stewart considers the PMs family life, friendships, pastimes, pets, and how they de-stressed, amongst other relevant topics. I found it mildly interesting, but this is because I've read many biographies about PMs. If a reader hasn't, the book will be fascinating. I found some sections repetitive like the ones on golf and fishing. But throughout, I did learn more about the PM's characters from the observations that never showed in previous accounts. They were almost all different people in private. The book also demonstrated what an exhausting and demanding job being prime minister of Canada really is, especially today. Recommended to readers who enjoy peeking into private lives of public figures.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Interesting read about prime ministers' lives explained through different themes: schedules, sports, health, privacy, travels, pets (!) ect... The book goes back and forth in time according to the focus of each chapters. The bibliography ranges from memoirs, interviews with the author and newspapers to political biographies and policy books. I learned a great deal about obscure PMs.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    We have had 23 prime ministers since 1867 when the Dominion was created and I have never really wondered what the job was that they were doing. Our prime minister is the elected head of his or her party and becomes the head of government when that party receives a majority in a national election. The politics of it all is found in the daily news but the daily grind of the job is rarely seen. This book sheds a light on various aspects of life as the head of government: routine, travel, security, p We have had 23 prime ministers since 1867 when the Dominion was created and I have never really wondered what the job was that they were doing. Our prime minister is the elected head of his or her party and becomes the head of government when that party receives a majority in a national election. The politics of it all is found in the daily news but the daily grind of the job is rarely seen. This book sheds a light on various aspects of life as the head of government: routine, travel, security, personal health, privacy, residence, pets, and sports. Mr. Stewart deals with each topic as it involves each of the incumbents, comparing and contrasting each. The reader is led through the years so that you can see how things and people have changed. A good example is security. Sir John A. Macdonald would not have understood the word as we do. There was no police presence in his life and of the various adjustments necessary when he took the helm of the nation he was helping to create concern about his personal safety was marginal in spite of the assassination of Thomas Darcy McGee in 1868. In this chapter, however we learn that there has always been concern about the possibility of violence and that there have been attempts which have been minimised to the public. The protection which now surrounds the PM is so much denser than we even imagine and that constant presence in the daily life of the families as well as the PM himself creates its own pressure as well as removing the PM further from people (Justin Trudeau notwithstanding). One chapter of concern to taxpayers is the whole matter of 24 Sussex Drive, the official home of the PM. The house dates back to the 1860s and the changes, additions, and re-dos have not helped it to weather the years. Because the media and the Opposition have detailed expenditures as if they were financial crimes, the house has been allowed to reach a state of decrepitude. Prime Ministers have hesitated to insist on work from fear of being accused of reckless spending of public money so that Chretien only dared to agree to a new roof after the ice storm damaged the old one. The electrical system dates to the 1950s and the plumbing may well be older. Justin Trudeau will not bring his family into it and he grew up in the house. Proper decisions will have to be made and soon. Other topics are dealt with as fully with the result being a revealing look at the 22 men and 1 woman who have held the position of prime minister, their various characters, and the particular and general problems with which they've had to deal. A fascinating read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Being Prime Minister is a collection of anecdotes and stories collected and edited by JDM Stewart. This anthology collects anecdotes from all twenty-three Prime Ministers of Canada over her one-hundred and fifty years of existence. Unlike most specialized biography, or high school text for John A. Macdonald's drinking, William Lyon Mackenzie King's spiritualism, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau's irreverence, J.D.M. Stewart's Being Prime Minister is entirely devoted to the daily lives of Canada's prime Being Prime Minister is a collection of anecdotes and stories collected and edited by JDM Stewart. This anthology collects anecdotes from all twenty-three Prime Ministers of Canada over her one-hundred and fifty years of existence. Unlike most specialized biography, or high school text for John A. Macdonald's drinking, William Lyon Mackenzie King's spiritualism, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau's irreverence, J.D.M. Stewart's Being Prime Minister is entirely devoted to the daily lives of Canada's prime ministers. Stewart tells us much that is new in a number of thematic chapters about the twenty-two men and one woman who have so deeply shaped our country. To weave together the many stories, Stewart has read widely, delved into the archives, and even amazingly interviewed six former prime ministers. It is rather striking of all the long hours worked by all the leaders, as well as the incredible stamina – especially many of the earlier Prime Ministers. Almost every waking moment was devoted to some task or meeting, or to responding to other politicians, the cabinet, civil servants, or the mass of well-wishers, donors, or patronage seekers. Several of the Prime Ministers – Macdonald, Robert Borden, and Richard Bennett — almost died from overwork. Stewart offers captivating stories ranging from the prime ministers' breakfasts and reading material, to the places they took their vacations, to their interactions with celebrities. Speed-reading through papers, absorbing briefing books, finding time to send the kids off to school, or sneaking in a swim between meetings were all part of the ritualized and rigidly planned day-to-day activities of these leaders who were rarely alone. Stewart finds humor in all the greats and not-so-greats, ranging from Lester Pearson's folksy charm with American counterparts to Louis St. Laurent’s gentle words with workers at Parliament, and from John Diefenbaker's exuberant charisma on the hustings to Stephen Harper's piercing jokes with his inner circle. Being Prime Minister was researched and written extremely well. Stewart has found an angle to explore the Canadian Prime Ministers that the typical biographies over looked and focused less on the political office, but the person in the political office. Overall, it is a positive book with little venom to any of the Prime Ministers written. One criticism I had was that the anecdotes were not chronically into each section one for each Prime Minister. Instead, it was categorized into logical sections and it has indicated whatever Prime Minister did what and how. There was nothing wrong with this technique – I was just surprised and was expecting to have twenty-three chapters one for each Prime Minister and I could go to the corresponding chapter to read about that particular person. All in all, Being Prime Minister is a wonderful collection of anecdotes pertaining to the highest position of the land.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Colin Hynes

    A fun jaunt through Canada’s highest office. This book is a refreshing take on political life that steers cleat of political controversies for the most part—aside from Pierre Trudeau’s salute in Salmon Arm and Chrétien’s Shawinigan handshake. The only thing I would have like to have seen, and perhaps this is something which couldn’t be due to restrictions with archives, would have been whether or not decisions PM’s made through their tenure affected them later in life. For example, I’m sure the m A fun jaunt through Canada’s highest office. This book is a refreshing take on political life that steers cleat of political controversies for the most part—aside from Pierre Trudeau’s salute in Salmon Arm and Chrétien’s Shawinigan handshake. The only thing I would have like to have seen, and perhaps this is something which couldn’t be due to restrictions with archives, would have been whether or not decisions PM’s made through their tenure affected them later in life. For example, I’m sure the many PM’s who created or championed residential schools thought it was the right thing to do, but I would have like to have seen if they ever regretted and if that affected their personal lives. Did their spouses agree with what they were doing? Kids? Friends? Perhaps that subject matter/content was too cheerless for the rest of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richard Worden

    A very interesting book with insights into the lives of Canada's Prime Ministers. There were only a couple references to spirituality and religion and no stories of religious practices or lack of them, conflicts, and contacts with religious leaders.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex Abboud

    A number of interesting anecdotes and stories, which politicos will enjoy. Decent book, but the overall narrative failed to engage me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Johnathan Rix

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dundurn Press

  10. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Gagné

  11. 4 out of 5

    Colby Pridham

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brian Huynh

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jon Goetz

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jared

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dodek

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beau Rusk

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dani

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Natalia HA

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Mailhot

  22. 5 out of 5

    Duckpondwithoutducks

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This book offered a glimpse at the private lives of the 23 people that served as Prime Minister to Canada. These people were interesting and the author showcased the differences between their public and private personas. You can tell that the author utilized as many resources as he could to write this, as it is rich in facts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    JEAN-PAUL CROTEAU

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cledger

  27. 5 out of 5

    JDM Stewart

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Wilson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

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