Shortlisted, John W. Dafoe Book Prize
Saturday, November 3, 1956
The United Nations, New York City
about 10 p.m.
Lester Pearson, Canada's foreign minister (and future prime minister) stands before the United Nations General Assembly. He is about to speak, reading from a proposal composed of seventy-eight painstakingly chosen words. These words, shaped by caution and hope, are a last-ditch attempt to prevent a conflict in Egypt from igniting a conflagration throughout the Middle East. Pearson, in perhaps his finest hour, is about to carve out a razor's edge of common ground to bring together angry allies and bitter enemies by suggesting and making possible the creation of the first UN peacekeeping force.
Pearson's diplomacy throughout the Suez Crisis launched a bold experiment in international security and cemented Canada's reputation as "a moderate, mediatory, middle power." And yet, until now, no one has told the full story of how this Canadian diplomat led the world back from the brink of war. In a unique blending of biography and political history, Antony Anderson's The Diplomat draws from diplomatic cables, memoirs, diaries, anecdotes, official memoranda, and exclusive author interviews to create not only a compelling portrait of Pearson, the man at the centre of the negotiations, but also a nuanced analysis of the political maze navigated by Pearson to avert a bloody war.
" In 1957 Lester Pearson won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his diplomacy during the Suez Crisis. But what brought Pearson to Suez, and what explains why he acted as he did? Antony Anderson, in a work of stunning originality, traces the threads that linked Pearson and Canada to the Middle East, not just for a few months in 1956, but over the previous half century. This is a book that should be on the shelf of every Canadian interested in our foreign policy, and public policy generally."
"Anderson delivers a brisk, gripping yarn making excellent use of his research, including multiple interviews with surviving actors in the drama. Meanwhile Pearson ... is front and centre throughout. That Anderson captures him so well is a tribute to his metier as a storyteller."
"What [Anderson] has given us is not only a penetrating character analysis of Mike Pearson but also a clear-headed analysis of the evolution of Canadian foreign policy and a riveting narrative of the Suez crisis itself ... at a time when many are talking about a return to 'Pearsonian values' in our foreign policy, it is a truly welcome addition to our understanding of both the man and the era in which he worked."
"Anyone not already familiar with Pearson’s life will learn the essentials here. And anyone familiar will appreciate how Anderson sets Pearson’s life contextually in the changing role of Canada and its evolving foreign policy."
"Antony Anderson describes a moment when Canada mattered internationally. Lester Pearson's extraordinary diplomatic skills, which were demonstrated fully during the Suez Crisis of 1956, won the respect of his colleagues at the United Nations and increased the pride of Canadians in their nation's; role in the world. In a clearly written and often gripping account, Antony Anderson describes how Pearson's experience and Canada's reputation as a fair interlocutor placed him in a position to make a significant contribution to international peace."
"Anderson’s book delivers an interesting Pearsonian perspective on mid-twentieth century Canadian and international history."