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Trudeau Albums

by Mordecai Richler

However earnest the essays in Trudeau Albums might be in their occasional criticism of the late Pierre Trudeau, nothing can shake the reverent, hagiographic tone of this boxed coffee-table accessory. Organized into six albums, each documenting a significant period of Trudeau’s life, the collection brings together more than 300 photographs of the man and his times, along with essays by his admirers (including historian Jack Granatstein, broadcaster Peter Gzowski, and documentary maker Catherine Annau).

With so much visual evidence of Trudeau’s hand in Canadian history, it is difficult to feel anything but awe and a tinge of nostalgia while reading the book. The essays shed a tear for that once-in-a-lifetime glance into his twinkling eyes, and for the glory of working on Trudeau’s first campaign for the Liberal leadership. The least self-indulgent reminiscence comes from Mordecai Richler, who gives a vivid account of Trudeau’s 1980 return to office and the referendum scare that followed. It isn’t the essays, though, that give this collection its energy. Rather it is the detailed captions that accompany the photos, and act as an uncluttered guide to the life and times of a complicated, inspired man.