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David Wilson

David Wilson

Best Book in Political History Prize


David WilsonThomas Darcy McGee, Volume 2: The Extreme Moderate, 1857-1868. (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011).

David Wilson’s account of Thomas D’Arcy McGee’s Canadian years examines the character of a man and of a country, culminating in Canada’s birth and McGee’s murder. Wilson’s McGee was a person with a background of extremes who forged a passionate middle ground in his campaign against ethnic particularism and religious extremism in the politics of early Canada, a vision of and a lesson in a tolerant, generous, and diverse society that the author explicitly links to the challenges and dangers of a post-11 September world. Wilson eloquently champions the study of political history as fundamental to an understanding of what it means to be Canadian. He brings to life the thrill, the stench, and the importance of mid-to-late nineteenth century British North American politics. Yet he finds the person amid the politics. Despite the paucity of personal McGee correspondence, Wilson reveals the size of the man and his emphatic humanity, the aching failings as well as the heady successes, effectively and sensitively linking McGee’s private and public worlds. David Wilson’s biography is a triumph of multinational and multidimensional research fused to a wonderful, direct prose that drives the narrative and the reader forward. It is a book for every scholar, and for every Canadian.