Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Thumper: The Memoirs of the Honourable Donald S. Macdonald

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Thumper: The Memoirs of the Honourable Donald S. Macdonald

Article excerpt

Donald S. Macdonald, Thumper: The Memoirs of the Honourable Donald S. Macdonald (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), 292 pp. Cased. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4469-7.

The memoirs of Donald Macdonald ought to be something to look forward to. Macdonald was a young hopeful in the Lester Pearson government, and one of the most important ministers in the governments of Pierre Trudeau. His role as head of the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada led to a recommendation for free trade with the United States, an idea the next Conservative government took up, of course. Readers of this journal might also remember him for his role as Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. His career left perhaps only one achievement unfulfilled, the prime ministership.

Yet the most interesting parts of this memoir, written with the assistance of Rod McQueen, deal with Macdonald's life before entering politics. We learn of his privileged yet uniquely challenging childhood, and the story of his accomplished civil servant mother. There is also his early legal career with its focus on international economy, and the tantalising foreshadowing between this background and his later stance on free trade. Readers hoping for other more significant insights into Macdonald's political career, however, are likely to leave unsatisfied. …

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