Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945–1984.


464 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-7748-1368-6
DDC 327.1009'045





Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a history professor at Laurentian University and
author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable Kingdom.


Robert Bothwell’s well researched and well written book inevitably overlaps some of Bothwell’s earlier ones, most notably Canada Since 1945 (1981) and Pirouette: Pierre Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Policy (1990). However, it includes subsequently released information on such matters as the Korean War, Canadian wheat sales to China, the Cuban missile crisis, de Gaulle’s infamous 1967 visit to Canada, and the Israeli-Arab war of the same year. Coverage of anything to do with nuclear technology is superb, as Bothwell is a leading authority on the subject.


Bothwell’s opinions usually coincide with conventional wisdom. He admires the St. Laurent government and its Minister of External Affairs, Lester Pearson. The Diefenbaker government’s understanding of the world was much weaker, but Diefenbaker probably salvaged the Commonwealth by taking a tough stand on South Africa’s continued membership. Canadian diplomacy with regard to Vietnam was hardly stellar. Paul Martin was not an effective Minister of External Affairs. Joe Clark’s Jerusalem Embassy effort was a fiasco. Yet, Bothwell considers Trudeau’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China as “one of the most inconsequential of Trudeau’s foreign policy initiatives.”


There are errors and omissions. Bothwell mistakenly places Pusan on South Korea’s southwest coast, and he says nothing about the perceived Soviet pressure on Norway, which contributed to the creation of NATO. He might have elaborated upon the justified opinion of Canadian diplomat John Holmes that the Korean War was an avoidable conflict. He does not mention Diefenbaker’s 1958 round-the-world tour nor Trudeau’s controversial 1976 trip to Havana. Stephen Azzi did not, as Bothwell indicates, provide an incorrect publication date for George Grant’s Lament for a Nation. Lyndon Johnson refused to confirm his attendance at Expo ’67 before the last minute because he correctly believed that war in the Middle East was imminent, and he wanted to be in Washington when it happened. It was not that he feared hostile demonstrations.


Nevertheless, this is a highly useful one-volume summary of Canada’s foreign relations from 1945 until 1984.


Bothwell, Robert., “Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945–1984.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,