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Biography & Autobiography Medical

Phoenix

The Life of Norman Bethune

by (author) Roderick Stewart & Sharon Stewart

Publisher
McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2011
Category
Medical, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780773538191
    Publish Date
    May 2011
    List Price
    $39.95
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780773540811
    Publish Date
    Aug 2012
    List Price
    $29.95
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780773586406
    Publish Date
    May 2011
    List Price
    $39.95

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Description

Restless, dynamic, conflicted, a surgeon, an artist, and a writer, Norman Bethune was an extraordinary Canadian. Brilliant, yet erratic, Bethune's life was characterized by cycles of achievement and self-destruction and his adventurous spirit led him from the operating rooms of Montreal to the battlegrounds of Spain and China. In Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune Roderick and Sharon Stewart provide the intriguing details of Bethune's controversial career as a surgeon, his turbulent personal life, his passionate crusade to eradicate tuberculosis, and his pioneering commitment to the establishment of medicare in Canada. They also examine the reasoning that led Bethune to embrace Marxism and show the depth of his faith in the triumph of communism over fascism - a commitment that drove him to take risk after risk and ultimately led to his death from an infection caught while performing battlefield surgery in remote northern China. Based on extensive research in Canada, Spain, and China, and in-depth interviews with Bethune's family, friends, colleagues, and patients, Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune is the definitive Bethune biography for our time.

About the authors

Roderick Stewart is the author of three books on Norman Bethune: The Mind of Norman Bethune (1990), Norman Bethune (1974), and Bethune (1973). He has written high school history textbooks and edited books for major Canadian publishers. He currently lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Roderick Stewart's profile page

Sharon Stewart was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, in the shadow of World War II. During her childhood, the breathtaking beauty of the British Columbia landscape informed her earliest attempts at writing, particularly nature poetry. Her earliest memories were of the beach at Gonzales Bay where she spent every moment pottering about on the sand. When her father returned from the war in Europe, the family moved to Vancouver and later to the Fraser Valley and then to the Okanagan Valley. To this day, Sharon has trouble deciding which she loves best: sea or mountains” Sharon’s innermost literary fantasies were early stoked by her victory in her junior high school’s short story competition. However, she was soon sucked into the whirlwind of study and work. Her first high school job was in the West Vancouver Memorial Library and she was one of the first students in attendance when Simon Fraser University opened in 1965. She began her university studies in English and Modern Languages, but by third year, she had fallen completely in love with history. She found, however, that the more she got into academic writing, the less creative writing she did. In 1969 she won a Commonwealth Scholarship to do graduate work at University College of the University of London, England. After marriage and a move to Toronto, she also did graduate work at the University of Toronto where she completed a Master’s degree in French history, her Ph.D course work and became a teaching assistant. Midway through her thesis and the promise of publication in a scholarly journal, she realized she was no longer interested in strictly academic writing and research. She left the university sphere to become a Social Sciences editor at Gage Publishing. A second marriage to Roderick Stewart, biographer of Norman Bethune, gave her the opportunity to live and work in China’s far north, the city of Harbin, formerly in Manchuria. Adapting to life in a severe climate with no central heating, she learned to live with two layers of thermal underwear while pedalling to her work as a teacher of English to Chinese teachers. She and her husband wrote a series of articles on China which were published in newspapers across Canada in 1983-84. After the year in China, Sharon returned to editorial work at Ginn and Co. and is now a senior project editor in Language Arts at Prentice Hall Ginn where her job is to research, compile and write content for Language Arts anthologies. Many of her poems and articles have appeared in Ginn and Prentice Hall anthologies. Sharon’s employment as an editor re-ignited her passion for writing and her long-dormant ambition to write for young people. Napoleon Publishing’s The Minstrel Boy (1997) was Sharon’s first published piece of young adult fiction, although it is in fact her second novel. The first, The Dark Tower, was published by Scholastic Canada in 1998 and her third, Spider’s Web, by Red Deer College Press, also in 1998. Aside from writing, Sharon’s interests include reading (of course!), playing the piano, gardening and training squirrels to come when she whistles.

Sharon Stewart's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The Stewarts have done an extraordinary job in their new biography. They travelled to many of the places where Bethune lived and worked, talked to old Party members who remembered him, and assimilated much new material into their narrative. The book is beautifully written, with a clear narrative. Providing excellent background information on the times, they keep Bethune in the foreground and make him a much more complex, exasperating, and admirable man than the pottery statue of Chinese propaganda." The Tyee

"Phoenix ... accomplishes in magisterial fashion what any good biography should do: it reveals the complexity of its subject." The Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Phoenix makes a compelling read. Phoenix is both readable and authoritative. It dispels many of the myths which have grown around Bethune, and presents him warts and all. The book will be a valuable contribution to history's view of Bethune." Spectrum

"At long last, the whole Bethune—flaws and contradictions intact, making the extraordinary accomplishments of this troubled and near tragic figure all the more remarkable to unravel. I was riveted, from beginning to end." Ken Gass, Artistic Director, Fact

"Thorough, objective, well-written, exhaustive and highly readable, Phoenix should become the definitive basis for all serious discussion of Bethune." The Globe and Mail

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