Volumes I and II of The Mackenzie King Record presented the story of Mackenzie King as wartime Prime Minister of Canada; volume III recorded the immediate aftermath of the war in Canada and beyond. Volume IV records Mackenzie King's final period in office and ends with a long and absorbing account of the Liberal convention at which Louis St. Laurent was chosen his successor as leader of the party and with the last months before his retirement as Prime Minister.
The period covered in this volume is one of mounting crisis in international affairs: Berlin, Palestine, Korea are sources of conflict and of immense concern, leading on to the formation of NATO and with a background of the efforts to help western Europe recover economically. Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, and, increasingly, Lester Pearson are involved in the discussions of these events as they affect the world in general and Canada in particular, and at times there are a significant differences of opinion about Canada's role on the international scene between the Prime Minister and his advisers. The sombre mood of the account of cold war tensions is lightened by such events as the Prime Minister's attendance at the Royal Wedding.
Within Canada the Cabinet has to face such problems as the foreign exchange crisis, and there are important shifts in its membership as Mackenzie King prepares for his withdrawal. He receives manifold tributes on his long tenure of public office and the Liberal convention of 1948 in welcoming the successor he had desired gives full due to a record begun so many years before under the guidance of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
The authors have let the diary tell the story in greatest part, and have provided connection passages for any necessary background. This volume, like volumes I, II and III, has had the benefit for Mr. Pickersgill's special knowledge of its events gained in his service at this time in the Prime Minister's office. It will be of the highest interest for both amateur and specialist students of Canadian government and history.
The Record, completed in this volume, is to be distinguished from the official biography begun by R. MacGregor Dawson and being completed (up to the outbreak of the Second World War) by Blair Neatby. Its special importance lies in the fact that it makes accessible large uninterrupted sections of a dairy unique in Canadian history.
About the authors
J.W. PICKERSGILL is now retired from a career in the civil service and politics that spans almost fifty years. He still lives in Ottawa.
D.F. FORSTER is Associate Professor of Political Economy, Vice-Provost and Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Toronto. Hei s a regular contributor to the Canadian Annual Review.