Escott Reid: Diplomat and Scholar


144 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2713-3
DDC 327.71'0092




Edited by Greg Donaghy and Stéphane Roussel
Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


Escott Reid—diplomat, gentleman, and scholar —was truly ubiquitous.
Wherever Canada was in the post–World War II world, there he was as
well: participating in conferences to organize the United Nations and
NATO, serving as Canadian High Commissioner to newly independent India
during the Korean War (when the advice of Indian authorities influenced
their Canadian counterparts) and as Canadian Ambassador to West Germany,
helping to found York University’s bilingual Glendon College. After
retirement, he gave generously of his time to CBC reporters and to
scholarly conferences so that professors, writers, and interested
members of the public could have a better understanding of the recent

Donaghy and Roussel have assembled a first-rate team of scholars to
examine different aspects of Reid’s life. Before World War II, says
Jack Granatstein, Reid was an isolationist. Hector Mackenzie reports
that when Reid was part of the Canadian delegation to the founding
session of the United Nations, he wanted to play a more active role than
Prime Minister Mackenzie King would permit. David Haglund and Roussel
rightly emphasize that Reid was suspicious of U.S. motives, even at the
1948 conference that created NATO, but they do not mention a point that
Reid made during a 1987 conference at Ryerson University on that event.
“Sad as the Communist coup d’état of February 1948 in
Czechoslovakia had been,” he said, “we were more concerned about
Norway than about Czechoslovakia.” Perceived Soviet pressure on Norway
appeared a greater danger to Western interests than Czechoslovakia’s
disappearance behind the Iron Curtain.

Events confirmed that the world would have been wise to heed Indian
officials during the Korean War. Kavalam Panikkar, India’s ambassador
in Beijing, warned that if the United States Command occupied any part
of North Korea, Chinese forces would enter the war. Indian diplomats
offered the formula that became the basis of the 1953 ceasefire
agreement. Ottawa appreciated advice from India when Washington and
London did not. Donaghy describes Reid’s role in persuading the St.
Laurent government to listen. Diefenbaker’s indifference prompted
Reid’s retirement from diplomacy.


“Escott Reid: Diplomat and Scholar,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 18, 2024,