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Nino Ricci biography of Pierre Elliot Trudeau

I recently finished Ricci`s bio of Trudeau, which is a part of JR Saul`s Extraordinary Canadians series, which is itself, i think, an offshoot of Saul`s most recent book/thesis that Canada is a “Metis nation.”

While I found this an interesting read, I found it odd and a little annoying how Ricci purported to be breaking down the mythology surrounding Trudeau, when in actuality seemed to do more to enhance and glorify the image (as opposed to the reality) of Trudeau. Ricci successfuly presents the fascinating narratuve of Trudeau’s gifted and previledged youth. This youth included things both strange (Trudeau’s admission in his journal’s that he was not writing his true thoughts, but rather the thoughts that he wanted the future archivists of his famous life to read), to the frightening (his denial of Nazi attrocities, his anti-semitism, and his membership in an anti-democratic, pro- quebec nationalism cell).

But, Ricci throughout the book seems to be in awe of Trudeau, from the introduction where he claims that as an immigrant kid in grade two he remembers his first sense of being Canadian coming after hearing Trudeau, to somewhere in the middle of the book where he compares Trudeau to Jesus, all the way to the final page of the book where Ricci walks longingly past the Montreal home of the recently deceased Trudeau. This mood of adoration to me undercuts the seriousness of Ricci’s attempt to discover what Trudeau means to us as an iconic Canadian.

Overall the book is a psychological biography, and not a political one, which is perhaps disappointing to me as it doesn’t spend much time describing and evaluating Trudeau’s policies.