50 Years, 50 Books: Alliance and Illusion

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2022


As a way to celebrate our anniversary, Acquisitions Editor Randy Schmidt reached out to fifty UBC Press authors and asked them to talk about their favourite UBC Press book. This is what we heard.

Written by John English


When speaking and writing about Canada’s place in the world from Mackenzie King to Pierre Trudeau, some Canadians gloated and glorified while others deplored and depreciated.  What nearly all commentators shared in common was a remarkable lack of knowledge about what Canada had achieved and where it had failed and fallen short.   Before 2007, such ignorance was perhaps excusable. After the publication of Robert Bothwell’s Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945-1984 in 2007, there could be no excuses. Based upon a lifetime of meticulous documentary research and interviews with the major diplomats and politicians who were present when decisions were made, Alliance and Illusion is a masterful and elegant analysis and description of Canada’s foreign policy from the dawn of the Cold War until the Cold War’s sunset in the 1980s.

The subject of two fascinating roundtables on its significance, Alliance and Illusion garnered praise from academics for its exceptional documentary depth, awareness of historiographic controversies, sophisticated discussion of economic circumstances and policies, and intellectual and stylistic clarity. Allan Gotlieb, a roundtable participant as well as one of the major diplomats of the period, described the book as “deeply researched, comprehensive, well-written, incisive, witty and balanced.” The overall conclusion of the roundtables was that Alliance and Illusion was a book that would attract and inform both diplomats and academics and that it would endure. It did, it has, it will. 

John English is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo and Founding Director of The Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He has served as the General Editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and has published numerous historical books and articles.

Posted in 50Years50Books
Posted by Megan M.
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