This is the story of a remarkable interlude in the career of a Canadian statesman. The defeat of the Liberal government in September 1911 might well have meant the end of the political career of William Lyon Mackenzie King. It turned out to be rather the beginning of a long hiatus. For eight years he lived a life which varied from actual lack of employment to full and highly-paid activity as economic counsellor, guide, and close friend of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and as adviser on industrial relations to several of the largest corporations in the United States. The period ends with his return to political life in August 1919, when he was elected leader of the Liberal Party. This meant the end of one career and the resumption of another.
Eight years represent but a short span in the life of a man who lived for over seventy-five. Mackenzie King's life between September 1911 and August 1919, however, was so completely different from his life in the first ten and the last thirty years of his political career that a fairly detailed account of what he thought, said, wrote, and did within that period should add greatly to our understanding of the whole man. The possibility of a return to politics never left his mind, and contacts with Canadian political leaders were frequent, but for five years out of the eight, from 1914 to 1919, he was almost completely absorbed in the study of labour