Pearson's Prize: Canada and the Suez Crisis.


207 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 978-1-55002-611-9
DDC 962.053092






Reviewed by Andrew C. Young

Andrew C. Young is an assistant historian at the Canadian War Museum in


John Melady’s book on the Suez Crisis of 1956 is a popular work of history. It relies almost exclusively on secondary sources, except for one interview with Lester Pearson’s son (Geoffrey). Newspaper articles and opinion pieces from 1956 are also greatly referenced in this work.


Pearson’s Prize follows a narrative path across several continents as the events surrounding the nationalization of the Suez Canal, by the Egyptian President Gamal Nasser, are outlined. The collusion between Israel, France, and Britain to invade Egypt and drive Nasser from power are specifically detailed. Pearson does not figure in any of these events; indeed, entire chapters of the book find him absent.


This work offers nothing new. The 100-plus books written on the Suez Crisis tell a similar story. Not surprisingly, the idea that Lester Pearson “invented” peacekeeping is presented as an established fact of history. Unfortunately, while the role of Lieutenant General Tommy Burns (another Canadian) in commanding the new United Nations Emergency Force in the Sinai is mentioned at the end of the book, his pivotal role in this crisis has yet to find an author. The Department of National Defence is, however, at last working on an official history of the UNEF.


While this book would be suitable for a high school library, there is nothing in it that adds to the historiography on the Suez Crisis. An examination of the archival material, especially the Canadian military records, might have yielded a book that could have shed some new light on this subject.


Melady, John., “Pearson's Prize: Canada and the Suez Crisis.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 18, 2024,