In 2012 when crime-writer Nate Hendley came to Five Rivers with the view to finding a home for the orphaned Prime Minister books from now defunct JackFruit Press, we were pleased to undertake breathing new life into the incomplete series.
The original series had been targeted to early primary school students, more of a graphic novel approach. We decided to expand the demographic for the series so the books would be readable by, and appeal to, senior primary through young adults, with more of a journalistic, biographical tone than a graphic novel, thereby giving the Prime Minister’s office the dignity and respect it should command, while still retaining engaging readability.
Anyone who thinks Canadian history is boring should read this series. There’s enough triumph and tyranny, subterfuge and noble (or Nobel) enterprise to interest even the most jaded reader.
So it is with great pride we’re releasing on March 1, 2015, the first book in the series, which is, in fact, Volume 14: Lester B. Pearson.
|ISBN 9781927400838 6 x 9 Trade Paperback $14.99
eISBN 9781927400845 $4.99
Canada’s 14th Prime Minister was a statement in contrasts. He was an academic, and an athlete. He was a politician who hated politics. He had powerful friends throughout the world – and he was an everyman who preferred the quiet solitude of home and hearth, and intimate gatherings with friends. He spoke with a lisp and favoured bow ties. And yet when he spoke, the entire world listened.
Lester Bowles ‘Mike’ Pearson never aspired to the mantle of Canadian government. And yet, when fate intervened and he found himself first as Leader of The Opposition and then later as Prime Minister, Pearson and his government achieved a remarkable number of significant reforms that went a long way towards shaping the country we know today. These include universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, official bilingualism, and the adoption of the distinctive Maple Leaf flag. Remarkably, the Pearson government achieved all this and much more with two, successive minority governments.
Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Lester Pearson’s background was in the Canadian Civil Service. He was present at the founding of the United Nations, and his vision for a UN Peacekeeping Force played a major role in averting the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956. Subsequently, Pearson was the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in concert with his international diplomacy.
Throughout his academic and political life he remained on a first-name basis with world leaders, and was easily the best-known Canadian on the world stage. And yet he was not given to the trappings of fame or status, and in tandem with his professional accomplishments he maintained his love for sports, and especially baseball.
A man of simple tastes, Pearson was selfless and unquestionably dedicated. His career required constant air travel, and yet he didn’t fly well. He preferred understated homes over opulent addresses. And while he would view the implementation of the Canadian flag as his proudest achievement, in most respects he viewed himself as little more than a regular guy, just doing his job.
He was also one of the best Prime Ministers of our time….
The author of Pearson’s biography is Gordon Gibb, a broadcaster and author based in Peterborough Ontario, a city where a young Lester Pearson and his family once called home.
A seasoned radio host, Gordon is in his 39th year at Corus Entertainment’s HITS 100.5 FM. Over the course of his writing career, Gordon’s byline has appeared in MacLean’s, Canadian Living, Chatelaine, Reader’s Digest, Cottage Life, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, the Peterborough Examiner and Peterborough This Week. ‘Gibberish: Tall Tales and Domestic Disasters from Beyond the Microphone,’ released in 2014, is a humorous collection of slice-of-life essays.
Along with this book, Gordon plans to release his first novel later this year. Gordon also serves as the in-arena announcer for the storied Peterborough Petes Canadian Junior hockey franchise in the winter months, and the Peterborough Sr. Lakers lacrosse franchise in the summer.
In his spare time, Gordon is an active volunteer and tinkers with online netcasting. Married with four grown children, Gordon divides his time between Peterborough, Ontario and a summer cabin in Haliburton. This is his third book.
The cover is by Five Rivers’ Art Director, Jeff Minkevics. Jeff undertook to create a look for the series which would lend a sense of gravitas to the biographies of Canada’s Prime Ministers. He chose a simple red and white motif to reflect our flag, along with a simple framing for black and white, almost Karsh-like, portraits.
There are a total of 21 books in the series, which will expand as Prime Ministers retire from office.
2015 will see the release of:
Pierre Elliot Trudeau, by Paula Johanson
Robert Borden, by Dorothy Pedersen
John S.D. Thompson, by Elle-Andra Warner
Charles Tupper, by Paula Johanson
Alexander Mackenzie, by Elle-Andra Warner
Arthur Meighen, by Dorothy Pedersen
William Lyon Mackenzie King, by Nate Hendley
Joe Clark, by Paula Johanson
John Diefenbaker, by Paula Johanson
Jean Chretien, by Nate Hendley
Paul Martin, by Elle-Andra Warner
John A Macdonald, by Mark Shainblum
Wilfred Laurier, by Mark Shainblum
2016 Five Rivers will release the remainder of the series:
R.B. Bennett, by Paula Johanson
John Abbott, by Dorothy Pedersen
Mackenzie Bowell, by Dorothy Pedersen
John Turner, by Dorothy Pedersen
Brian Mulroney, by Dorothy Pedersen
Kim Campbell, by Paula Johanson
Louis St. Laurent, by Dorothy Pedersen
Lester B. Pearson is now available for pre-order. School, library and bookstore inquiries welcome.