Richard Gwyn

Current Book

Copies of Nation-Maker, can be purchased at all bookstores, or by using the links below. Copies of the first volume of the biography, The Man Who Made Us, 1815-1867, can also be obtained this way.

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Richard J. Gwyn

Gwyn has long been widely-known as a political columnist for The Toronto Star and a frequent commentator on tv and radio. He is also well-known as the writer of award-winning books. These include highly-praised biographies of Pierre Trudeau, The Northern Magus, and of Newfoundland Premier Joey Smallwood, The Unlikely Revolutionary. His study of Canada as a post-modern, multi-cultural society, Nationalism With Walls; The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian, was cited by the Literary Review of Canadian as one of the country’s 100 most-important books.

His current contribution is as an historian. Since 2003, Gwyn has been writing a full-scale biography of John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first and most important prime minister—the first such study since the 1950s.

Gwyn’s first volume—its short title, The Man Who Made Us, covered John A. from his birth in Scotland in 1815 to his achievement of Confederation in 1867. It was published by Random-House in 2007. It received rave reviews and was a national best-seller. It won the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, in 2008, was short-listed for the Shaughnessy-Cohen Prize for Political Writing, while the Writers’ Trust of Canada selected it as one of the best political books of the last quarter-century.

The second volume, published by Random-House in September, 2011, covers Macdonald’s long stint as Prime Minister, broken by a spell after the Canadian Pacific Railway scandal, from 1867 to his death in 1891. The historian Michael Bliss has written: “In a tour de force of research, he has mastered the sources, weaves them beautifully into the text, and presents to use a more lifelike, more credible, Macdonald… John A. Macdonald for the twenty-first century.” The acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan has written: “Writing with his usual elegance and insight, Richard Gwyn has done full justice to the man whose own story is woven inextricably with that of Canada.”