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Biography & Autobiography General

Working the Dead Beat

50 Lives that Changed Canada

by (author) Sandra Martin

foreword by William Thorsell

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
General, Cultural Heritage
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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Longlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize and selected as a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and an iTunes Store Best Book

Globe and Mail columnist Sandra Martin honours the lives of Canada's famous, infamous, and unsung heroes in this unique collection of obituaries of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Here are Canadian icons such as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, social activist June Callwood, and urban theorist Jane Jacobs. Here are builders such as feminist and editor Doris Anderson, and businessman and famed art collector Ken Thomson. Here are our rogues, rascals, and romantics; our service men and women; and here are those private citizens whose lives have had an undeniable public impact. Finally, Martin interweaves these elegant and eloquent biographies with the autobiography of the obit writer, offering an exclusive and intimate view of life on the dead beat.

Beautifully written, compelling, and vivid, Working the Dead Beat is a tribute to those individuals who, each on their own and as a collective, tell the story of our country, and to the life of the obit writer who chronicles their extraordinary lives.

About the authors

Sandra Martin is the obituary columnist at the Globe and Mail. She has won the Atkinson and Canadian Journalism Fellowships and multiple National Magazine Awards. She is the editor of the critically acclaimed collection The First Man in My Life: Daughters Write about Their Fathers, and was also the co-editor of the annual Oberon Best Short Stories and Coming Attractions anthologies, and is the co-author of three books, including Rupert Brooke in Canada and Card Tricks: Bankers, Boomers, and the Explosion of Plastic Credit, which was shortlisted for the Canadian Business Book Award. A past president of PEN Canada, she lives in Toronto with her husband and her cat, Alice.

Sandra Martin's profile page

William Thorsell's profile page


  • Long-listed, Charles Taylor Prize
  • Commended, iTunes Store Best Book of 2012
  • Commended, Globe and Mail Top 100 Book

Editorial Reviews

... wonderful ... recent public life in Canada has included many fascinating and worthwhile characters.

Winnipeg Free Press

... a dizzying, dazzling, ultimately affirming collection ... stirring and heartbreaking.

Quill and Quire

Working the Dead Beat is the most engaging and enlivening book about Canada that I've come across this year.

National Post

Martin’s is a select history of Canada told through extended obituaries of both the known and the unknown, researched energetically and written graciously by one of the country’s leading journalists.

Globe and Mail

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