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JOHN BUCHAN Hardcover – 20 Sep 2013

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An accomplished Scottish journalist, soldier, head of intelligence, and Member of Parliament, John Buchan (1875-1940) is best known for penning thrillers such as "The Thirty-Nine Steps." However, as Canada's 15th governor general (1935-40), Buchan

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Galbraith does Buchan (Tweedsmuir) and Canada proud 9 Oct. 2013
By Nebuly - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Galbraith's book is in my view a tour de force.
*the divisions of the chapters into themes/roles works. At the minor expense of the occasional, but inevitable repetition or "as I have mentioned earlier" (John Buchan did this himself in Sir Quixote/John Burnet etc.), the chapters can stand alone, allowing the reader to take stock after each one.
*the cumulative effect is two-fold: what an amazing amount of effort and time John Buchan put into the role and, what is equally remarkable, that he did it mostly as an ill man. One feels he drove himself to his early death.
*it should be (I am sure, will be) required reading for present/future G-Gs. as well as Canadians as a whole. Canada, and the World, have moved on since 1940, but the essence of the role is the same. As is rightly, almost gently, pointed out the Quebec/French issue has not gone away; the value of education and 'humanitas' is as vital today as ever.
*I read somewhere/was told by someone that Susan suffered mild depression whilst in Canada. I didn't realise how often she returned to England and, clearly, one reason for the projected return in 1940 was for her sake (pp.395-6).
*Tweedsmuir comes across as a remarkable man: absolutely dedicated to both Canada and the UK; at ease with the great and the humble; treating each speech/event as important; willing to 'lend a hand whenever'.
*those critics over the years who have not been so positive about him could argue that he had almost a passion for 'collecting friends'. His use of superlatives, both in his writings (especially fiction) and in his comments, can grate occasionally; and arguably he could be naïve (the informal group of Americans who were to keep a 'watching brief' would not be out of place spinning yarns at the Runagates Club), but it was the naivety of the eternal optimist.
* my only criticism is that, particularly for the non-Canadian, there should have been at least one map. A general one of Canada at the start would have been helpful - I know, without looking, where Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are BUT many of the other places, even those that I had heard of, are geographically a mystery to me. In particular, Part IV needed a map and Chapter 14 cried out for one!!
Galbraith has produced a valuable book - Buchan's last years were not a tailing off but an invaluable period of his life.
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