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A Political Biography

By John Sewell

$29.95 Hardback
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History has often dismissed William Lyon Mackenzie as a comical figure, or as the political hothead who bungled the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Former Toronto mayor John Sewell suggests he may actually be the best model this country has ever had of a responsible politician.
In Mackenzie: A Political Biography of William Lyon Mackenzie, Sewell brings the fiery politician to life. He describes his subject's early years in Scotland, speculating about the political experience Mackenzie may have gained during the 1820 uprisings in Glasgow. He tells us about Mackenzie, feisty journalist and publisher of the Colonial Advocate; Mackenzie, first mayor of Toronto, who diligently served the city; Mackenzie, leader of the Rebellion of 1837, a man paradoxically more inclined to discussion than insurrection. Most importantly, he paints a vivid portrait of a passionate champion of a still inchoate idea -- democracy. Throughout, Sewell traces Mackenzie's attempts to grasp and understand the concept of democracy and the obligations it demands of its adherents.
Mackenzie, his political beliefs, and his experiences more than 150 years ago remain relevant to us today. This stimulating and insightful political biography comes from one of Mackenzie's spiritual descendants and a man himself well known as a Toronto reform politician.

"... A fascinating read. The lessons to be learned (from this book) are: 1) Never send a journalist/politician to run a rebellion -- send a soldier with a clear game plan, command structure and enough ready, willing and able troops; 2) The present neo-conservative predominance of politics, media and business in Canada is the Family Compact of Mackenzie's day."

- Mike Harcourt

"It is a brave book."

- Carol Goar Toronto Star

"A fantastic biography of William Lyon Mackenzie, who was Toronto's first mayor, and who I think might end up as a model for a new political passion in this country."

- Ian Brown CBC Radio's Talking Books

"To paint a portrait of a great democrat, Sewell makes much use of stirring passages from Mackenzie's pen."

- The Globe and Mail

"[Mackenzie makes for very good reading, indeed. Citizen Sewell, it turns out, has a real feel for his subject and adroitly communicates the excitement he himself experienced in such a concentrated exploration of the past."

- John Fraser National Post

"It is a delight to read activist Sewell on activist Mackenzie. The two men are linked in so many ways -- both mayors, both activists, both writers, and both adamant that the interests and rights of the common citizenry take precedent over whatever elite power each generation is prone to throw up. Good politics. Good read."

- R.H. Thompson

"Sewell's [Mackenzie is probably the best concise biography of his storied predecessor in the mayor's chair that you're likely to find."

- The Toronto Star

"This is a biography of William Lyon Mackenzie situated in the charged political atmosphere of Upper Canada in the 19th century. This book offers an excellent analysis of the struggle for a truly responsible government. Sewell points out the parallels between the Family Compact and today's government structure. He clearly illustrates our present need for comprehensive reform."

- Marion Dewar

"This exciting, well-told account of Mackenzie and the 1837 rebellion is a powerful reminder that Canadian democracy didn't just happen; people fought and died to put it in place."

- Linda McQuaig

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Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 252 pages
Publication Date: 1st October 2002
ISBN: 9781550287677
Format: 8.5in x 5.5in

BISAC Code:  BIO006000, HIS006000
Imprint: Lorimer


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