By: John Boyko
Forget all you think you know about the Kennedy years. With narrative flair and sparkling storytelling, acclaimed historian John Boyko explores the crucial period when America and its allies were fighting the Cold War’s most treacherous battles, Canadians were trading sovereignty for security, and everyone feared a nuclear holocaust.
At the centre of this story are three leaders. President John F. Kennedy pledged to pay any price to advance his vision for America’s defence and needed Canada to step smartly in line. Fighting him at every turn was Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker, an unapologetic nationalist trying to bolster Canada’s autonomy. Liberal leader Lester Pearson, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, sought a middle ground.
Boyko employs meticulous research and newly released documents to present shocking revelations. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Canadian warships guarded America’s Atlantic coast and Canada suffered a silent coup d’état. Canada was involved in Kennedy’s sliding America into Vietnam. Kennedy knew the nuclear missiles he was forcing on Canada would be decoys, there only to draw Soviet nuclear fire. Kennedy’s pollster and political adviser travelled to Ottawa under a fake passport to help defeat the Canadian government. And, perhaps most startlingly, if not for Diefenbaker, Kennedy may have survived the bullets in Dallas.
Published on 2 February 2016.