Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream

Beverley Baxter’s Reports from London through War and Peace, 1936–1960

Reviewed by Deborah Morrison

October 23, 2013

As Canada approaches key commemorations for the first and second world wars, the country’s British heritage has taken on renewed interest. Respected historian Neville Thompson delivers a compelling narrative of the last great years of the Anglo-Canadian connection, which is carefully woven together from the accounts of Canadian-born journalist and British Parliamentarian Beverley Baxter.

From 1939 to 1960, Baxter’s Letters from London was one of Maclean’s magazine’s most well-read and influential columns. Although Thompson draws heavily upon this treasure trove of first-hand accounts of British political life during the eras of prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, this is not a book of excerpts. Only brief quotes from selected letters are used. Instead, in Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream, Thompson expands upon them, providing a rich context to the times in which Baxter wrote.

It’s a great political history book that provides an insider’s guide to the people and events that shaped wartime and post-war Britain as well as Anglo-Canadian relations at a crucial time when world powers and allegiances were shifting and Canada was confidently coming into its own.

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