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Richard Gwyn wins $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen prize

Richard Gwyn’s Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867 – 1891 (Random House Canada), the second volume in the two-part biography of Canada’s first Prime Minister, is the recipient of this year’s Writers’ Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Gwyn was awarded the $25,000 prize at the Politics and the Pen Gala in Ottawa on Wednesday night.

In a press release, the jury comprised of journalist David Akin, historian Charlotte Gray, and political scientist Janice Gross Stein praised Gwyn’s book as a fully rounded and compelling portrait of our prime minster’s public and private life.

The first volume of Gwyn’s biography, John A: The Man Who Made Us, was a finalist for the prize in 2007, and in 2011 was named one of the best Canadian political books of the last 25 years by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Nation Maker was a finalist for the 2011 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Nation Maker beat out Ron Graham’s The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada (Allen Lane Canada), Max and Monique Nemni’s Trudeau Transformed: The Shaping of a Stateman, 1944 – 1965 (McClelland & Stewart), Andrew’s Nikiforuk’s Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests (Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation), and Jacques Poitras’ Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border (Goose Lane Editions). Each of the four runners-up received $2,500.