Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie Kings Secret Life

Category: Book
By (author): Dummitt, Christopher
Subject:  HISTORY / Canada / General
  HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  NON-FICTION / Canadian
  POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Published: May 2017
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 352
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in x 1.20in
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*When Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King died in 1950, the public knew little about his eccentric private life. In his final will King ordered the destruction of his private diaries, seemingly securing his privacy for good. Yet twenty-five years after King's death, the public was bombarded with stories about "Weird Willie," the prime minister who communed with ghosts and cavorted with prostitutes. Unbuttoned traces the transformation of the public's knowledge and opinion of King's character, offering a compelling look at the changing way Canadians saw themselves and measured the importance of their leaders' personal lives. Christopher Dummitt relates the strange posthumous tale of King's diary and details the specific decisions of King's literary executors. Along the way we learn about a thief in the public archives, stolen copies of King's diaries being sold on the black market, and an RCMP hunt for a missing diary linked to the search for Russian spies at the highest levels of the Canadian government. Analyzing writing and reporting about King, Dummitt concludes that the increasingly irreverent views of King can be explained by a fundamental historical transformation that occurred in the era in which King's diaries were released, when the rights revolution, Freud, 1960s activism, and investigative journalism were making self-revelation a cultural preoccupation. Presenting extensive archival research in a captivating narrative, Unbuttoned traces the rise of a political culture that privileged the individual as the ultimate source of truth, and made Canadians rethink what they wanted to know about politicians.
From The Publisher*How Canadians reimagined what a politician should be.
Review Quote*"Christopher Dummitt takes a tremendously imaginative approach. By following the controversy around King's diaries, he creates a unique story, unlike any other I have seen in Canadian historical writing." Doug Owram, University of British Columbia
Review Quote*"More than a revealing portrait of Canada's longest-serving prime minister, Dummit's (The Manly Modern) cultural critique insightfully examines the way changing perceptions of William Lyon Mackenzie King reflect broad changes in North American culture." Publishers Weekly
Biographical NoteChristopher Dummitt is associate professor of history in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University.