April 1, 2009

Bargain Book Alert
Lord Stanley: The Man Behind The Cup

Sir John A. MacDonald. Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley. Two men equally important in the history of Canada?

Okay, not quite, not in history's eyes anyways.

MacDonald, of course, was Canada's very first Prime Minister, masterfully undertaking the difficult task of nation building despite the influence of at least three major cultural backgrounds and an enormous geography to work with. He really is one of the 10 greatest Canadians.

That's tough to match. But Lord Stanley's impact on Canada is far more important than most of us realize. We all know him as a man born into privilege, who worked his way up the road paved with gold right to the governor general of Canada post. There he donated a $48 trophy that, in no direct thanks to Stanley himself, became far more important than he ever was.

Well, authors Kevin Shea and John Jason Wilson set out to clear up this myth. In their book Lord Stanley: The Man Behind the Cup, the duo look deeply into his life and career, specifically while here in Canada.

Bargain Book Alert: Available At Chapters For $4.99

Through academically thorough research the two authors paint Stanley as one of MacDonald's most important allies and a loyal Canadian. Through his embracing of sport, particularly the new Canadian sport of ice hockey, Stanley was an imperative piece of MacDonald's nation-building program.

Not only did sports bring the country together, but it helped solve a "crisis in masculinity." With the Americans determined to annex Canada, the country was lacking in military might and will. By building up masculinity through sports, Stanley was actually increasing Canada's ability to defend itself.

And you thought he was just happy to get out of Canada and back to England and that his cup was nothing more than a token gesture.

I mentioned the two authors are thorough in their research. They actually gained access to Lord Stanley's archival collection, retelling much of the material there. For a guy from the 19th century, it turns out there was lots to work with here.

The book contains a short forward by another governor general, Adrienne Clarkson, as well as The 19th Earl of Derby, who is the great-great-grandson of Lord Stanley. The book includes a nice selection of photographs of Lord Stanley and his family along with images related specifically to the history of the Cup.

Stanley also was noted for his diplomatic handling of the United States and Western Canada in several contentious issues. He was a very important politician, not just a sports fan with a token job.

The book is an academic read, which for me means it was laborious. I found some pieces repeated too much through the book. The book is also very long, which is scary in that it basically looks at just five years of Stanley's life.

Still, the authors need to be acknowledged for clearing up the tiny capsule of information we have been satisfied to know about Lord Stanley of Preston all of these years. While the brief history of the sixth governor general still exists, now we have the ability to truly know just who was the man behind the cup.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP