Egotists and Autocrats: The Prime Ministers of Canada


558 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-670-88081-7
DDC 971'.009'9




H. Graham Rawlinson is co-author of The Canadian 100: The 100 Most
Influential Canadians of the 20th Century.


Part history, part polemic, part newspaper column, this weighty book
isn’t sure what it wants to be. B.C. writer George Bowering considers
each of Canada’s prime ministers in turn, and, in a series of brief
essays on each, roughly sketches their history, their highs, their lows,
and their legacies. The resulting effort is a mish-mash. Bowering covers
only the topics of interest to him, and therefore, as history, the book
is eclectic and incomplete. More-over, he shows no evidence of
undertaking his own research, so there is little here that has not been
published elsewhere.

As commentary, the book is a little more successful. To his credit,
Bowering is obviously passionate about his subjects; he finds Canadian
political history a rich source of vivid personalities, and no one would
argue that Canadian political writing is not the richer for Bowering’s
tart judgments and blunt criticisms. Nevertheless, his well-written
stories of life at the top of Canada’s greasy pole ultimately failed
to sustain this reader’s interest for one simple reason: for an author
who has dedicated over 500 pages to Canadian politicians, he seems to
dislike all of them.


Bowering, George., “Egotists and Autocrats: The Prime Ministers of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 1, 2022,