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The Diplomat
Lester Pearson and
the Suez Crisis
Antony Anderson

Shortlisted for the 2016 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize

“This is a book that should be on the shelf of every Canadian interested in our foreign policy, and public policy generally.”
Professor Robert Bothwell, author of Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945-1984

Saturday, November 3, 1956. Lester Pearson, Canada's foreign minister, stands before the United Nations General Assembly. In his hands is a proposal made up of seventy-eight painstakingly chosen words, a last-ditch attempt to prevent a conflict in Egypt from becoming a world war fought throughout the Middle East. In this hour, Pearson is probably the most famous Canadian in the world, and in this crisis he has become the pivotal player. Pearson is an experienced master of the political game. He knows his country has neither the economic power nor the military muscle to threaten, enforce, or intimidate. He can only suggest, inspire, or perhaps persuade.

Pearson’s diplomacy throughout the Suez Crisis launched a bold experiment in international security and cemented Canada’s reputation as “a moderate, mediatory, middle power.” And yet, until now, no one has told the full story of how this Canadian diplomat led the world back from the brink of war. In a unique blending of biography and political history, Antony Anderson’s The Diplomat draws from diaries, memoirs, anecdotes, diplomatic cables, official memoranda, and exclusive author interviews to create not only a compelling portrait of Pearson, the man at the centre of the negotiations, but also a nuanced analysis of the political maze navigated by Pearson to avert a bloody war.


“Antony Anderson describes a moment when Canada mattered internationally. Lester Pearson's extraordinary diplomatic skills, which were demonstrated fully during the Suez Crisis of 1956, won the respect of his colleagues at the United Nations and increased the pride of Canadians in their nation's role in the world. In a clearly written and often gripping account, Antony Anderson describes how Pearson's experience and Canada's reputation as a fair interlocutor placed him in a position to make a significant contribution to international peace.”
John English
CM, FRSC, author of
The Life of Pierre Elliot Trudeau
and The Life of Lester Pearson

“Antony Anderson, in a work of stunning originality, traces the threads that linked Pearson and Canada to the Middle East, not just for a few months in 1956, but over the previous half century. This is a book that should be on the shelf of every Canadian interested in our foreign policy, and public policy generally.”
Robert Bothwell
author of Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945-1984

“Anderson delivers a brisk, gripping yarn making excellent use of his research, including multiple interviews with surviving actors in the drama. Meanwhile Pearson . . . is front and centre throughout. That Anderson captures him so well is a tribute to his métier as a storyteller.”
David M. Malone
Literary Review of Canada
December 2015

“A penetrating character analysis of Mike Pearson but also a clear-headed analysis of the evolution of Canadian foreign policy and a riveting narrative of the Suez crisis itself . . . at a time when many are talking about a return to "Pearsonian values" in our foreign policy, it is a truly welcome addition to our understanding of both the man and the era in which he worked.”
Bob Rae
Canada's History
February March 2016

“Someone should suggest to Justin Trudeau that he read this book…This is not a work of Canadian (or Liberal) hagiography or a paean to peacekeeping…Another of the strengths of this book is how Anderson carefully explains what Pearson did not do during the crisis.”
Prof. Joseph Jockel
The Dorchester Review
Spring Summer 2016

ANTONY ANDERSON has written and produced for numerous Canadian and international broadcasters, including CBC Radio, the Discovery Channel, History Television, and TVOntario. His independent documentaries for Global Television include Foreign Fields, a critical look at Canada’s fading role on the world stage. His articles have appeared in the Dorchester Review, the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Hamilton Spectator, and the Vancouver Province.

Follow Antony on twitter @canadahistory1 or email