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Tommy Douglas

(Extraordinary Canadians)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Once voted the greatest Canadian of all time, Tommy Douglas was a prairie politician who believed in democratic socialism, the crucial role of civil rights, and the great potential of cooperation for the common good. He is best known as the “Father of Medicare.” Born in 1904, Douglas was a championship boxer and a Baptist minister who later exchanged his pulpit for a ...more
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published December 14th 2011 by Penguin Global (first published March 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  113 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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May 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, canadian
Really liked it but a previous biography by Doris Shackleton had more of his quotes and witty one liners
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vincent Lam offers a competent, relevant biography of a Canadian leader whose impact continues to benefit us today. Tommy Douglas may never have held much power in the federal government, but his nearly 2-decade run as premier of Saskatchewan, the example he set, and the party he founded continue to win by influencing policy and politics. As an immigrant (nearly 20 years now), I wanted to better understand the man who helped bring universal health insurance coverage to Canadians, the ideals he ...more
Ashleigh Mattern
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
No matter your political stripe, there are good reasons to read this book. Almost all Canadians know who Tommy Douglas was,but anyone who reads this book will truly understand why he is still discussed decades after his death. Whether or not you support the ideas behind the CCF and the NDP, it’s fascinating to see how and why it came together. A large part of the reason why this book is so successful is Vincent Lam’s writing. He breathes life into history, giving context to events and firmly ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A sweeping, clear, and easy-to-read biography about the political accomplishments of Tommy Douglas. Vincent Lam's writing shines - he masterfully shows how Tommy's vision of the CCF party (and his visionary accomplishments as Priemer of Saskatchewan) shaped the political landscape of the 60s without inserting any biases. Lam writes specifically about how Mr. Douglas became the driving force of the implementation of the ideas of the CCF and NDP parties, and ideas that we are still proud of today ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting and ideologically insightful highlight of Douglas’ life. Lam strives at making perhaps somewhat mundane political history enthralling for the reader and I found it was a quick read for that reason.

Any Canadian currently dismayed at the scope of our political landscape should definitely read this for inspiration of how democratic socialism can thrive in Canada.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, non-fiction
Seems like a pretty great man. If only politicians (and humans in general) were still like Douglas.
Jeannine Silvestrone
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found Vincent Lam's portrayal of Tommy Douglas's life full of revealing facts and humourous anecdotes that made the reading of it come alive. Also, Lam did an excellent job of extensive research on the topic which opened up the behind the scenes workings of the provincial and federal government systems of Douglas's era. Lam's concise writing style kept me involved and in suspense as to how Douglas was going to handle the meriad of. Of course, Tommy's direct approach and political smarts had a ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
To be honest, I could have done without some of Lam's extrapolations on the effects of Douglas' influence. I'm definitely not saying that I disagree with anything he wrote; I just prefer to come to these conclusions myself through the presentation of the facts. I suppose we can't trust all readers to make those connections, though?

Overall, I think Vincent Lam did great justice to Tommy Douglas' story. I loved getting to know the connections between Tommy's personal life and his political beliefs
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Vincent Lam provides a good thematic overview of the life and achievements of one of the most influential citizens in Canada's history. It provides a unique insight into the political history of my home province, and the profound impact the CCF/NDP had on the development of my country. I was inspired by Douglas's vision, his profound belief in social democracy, and his unwavering certainty that in the end, reason will trump hysteria. It is easy to be discouraged with the world we live in and be ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to learn more about Tommy Douglas, and the history of Saskatchewan. It was amazing to me to learn more about how the Saskatchewan I know and love came to be. I think Lam did a great job of researching and interviewing and connecting to people who were close to Douglas. I also liked how he didn't gloss over some of Douglas' shortcomings or weird idiosyncracies.

He really tried to understand the man, and what shaped his life. When I first started the
Erica B
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not sure I want to give it a 5, but for sure over just a 4. Should be essential reading for Canadians, and recommended for everyone. A short easy biography of a great man. Amazing to read about his insights on racism and sexism so long ago. Very much a visionary and am glad he achieved what he did. Sorry he could not be around forever, and wish more leaders and politicians were like him today. Also easy to see how in a round about way he "created" Jack Bauer. Too bad Keifer had that whole ...more
Donna B
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Douglas' stance on the imposition of the War Measures Act during 1970's October Crisis was highly derided at the time. He took a big gamble on his political future by standing up for his strongly held ideals, and he & the party paid a high price in the polls. However, seems that through the lens of history, he was precisely correct. This section of the book was the most gripping for me, even over the evolution of Medicare. I would recommend this book.
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada, biographical
I'm ashamed to say that when Douglas was voted the greatest Canadian of all time I had no idea who he was. So, now I do. This is the second book I've read from the extraordinary Canadians series and they are short books which provide an introduction to the person in question however this was a little dry.
Scott Neigh
A straightforward narrative biography of Tommy Douglas (not, contrary to the Goodreads entry, of LaFontaine and Baldwin) written in easy, energetic prose. The analysis is fairly superficial and uncritical but it's still an accessible and useful telling of one prominent life devoted to a particular form of social change in Canada.
Michelle Sangster
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every Canadian should read this book. It's an amazing journey that Tommy Douglas must take in order to integrate universal healthcare into Canadian society. There will never be enough credit given to The Greatest Canadian.
Michael Wiles
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it

Tsk a is a really good introduction to Tommy Douglas and a period of Canadian politics. There are certainly more in depth biographies, but this was a good Sunday afternoon read.
Harry Monk
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A quick easy and very enjoyable read for a .Sunday
Tim McLean
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Raimo Wirkkala
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the better entries in this series on "Extraordinary Canadians". Quick, easy, informative read that actually has led me to more expansive bios of Tommy Douglas.
Jeffrey  Sylvester
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Just like the rest of the series. Every Saskatchewanian, and Canadian should read this.
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Mar 01, 2012
Colleen Murphy
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May 14, 2018
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Nov 11, 2013
Nick Rollick
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Oct 07, 2017
Marshall Boyd
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May 26, 2015
Len Joncas
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