Private Demons

Private Demons

The Tragic Personal Life of John A. Macdonald

Book - 2006
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The first book to expose the turbulent personal life of this fascinating Father of Confederation. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald once remarked, I had no boyhood, an understatement if there ever was one. Indeed, John A.'s Dickensian childhood, filled with poverty, alcoholism, and the beating death of his five-year-old brother at the hands of a drunken babysitter (a friend of his father, Hugh's), set the stage for a political power grab that has seen no equal in Canadian history. In Private Demons, bestselling author Patricia Phenix explores through Macdonald's family journals, diaries, and never-before-seen letters the troubled man behind Canada's most successful politician. Phenix describes a man of myriad contradictions: patient, yet prone to settle fights with his fists; ethical, yet capable of pilfering corporate profits to pay private debts; shy, yet wildly flirtatious; sociable, yet so desirous of solitude he built escape hatches into the walls of his homes. She also examines reports that Macdonald's depression became so deep that he once attempted suicide. Ultimately, in an obsessive need to escape his childhood demons, he sacrificed friends, family members, and financial security to achieve his single greatest ambition -- to design and control the destiny of Canada. Private Demons paints a vivid portrait of nineteenth-century society while exploring the amazingly tumultuous domestic life of our most famous prime minister.
Publisher: Toronto : M&S, [2006]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9780771070440
Branch Call Number: 971.051092 Macdo -P
Characteristics: ix, 328 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Sep 28, 2010

I confess that I have never read anything about Sir John A.

Again here was a book that is plagued by numerous typographical errors that I wonder where the editor was.

Also I found a horrendous error. Although no date appears in the paragraph but it would appear the incident occurs in the 1840s.
Ms Phenix describes an event when "a sweet pretty woman" called at their boardinghouse presumably in Philadephia where John A and his wife Isabella were staying. He recognized the lady's name "rather than feel relief at avoiding an awkward social situation, a few days later John A. set about trying to find her address, going so far as to ostentatiously riffle through the pages of the local telephone directory in Isabella's presence."

How could he? There were no telephones or telephone directories in the 1840's!

No doubt John A. Macdonald led a full and successful life but as Ms Phenix tells her story one must be appalled at the home life John A, experienced.

Isabella appears to have been a hypochondriac who became addicted to opium and spent much of her married life in bed and out od sight. Not exactly the political wife. Her behaviour would have tried a saint and John A. Macdonald was no saint. It is no wonder that Macdonald openly chased women, worked himself so hard and took to drink in a big way.

Needless to say there were tradgedies in his family. He may have witnessed the murder of his brother, he and Isabella lost their first child and with Agnes, his second wife there was a mentally challenged daughter. It could not have been easy to ignore these knocks.

As the subject of Ms Phenix's book is the personal life of Macdonald she does not assess his career although she gives ample information for the reader to decide this.

Aprt from the typos and the error in detail which I tended to verlook, Ms Phenix presents a well researched, well written and nicely paced book on the private life of our first prime minister. I would like to read more about our first PM and his successors.

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