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The Third Man

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It’s just a diary, right, how involved could it be?  We are not talking about a few sentences each evening for a few years, no it’s 30,000 typed pages that begin in 1893 and stops just three days before he dies in 1950.  He was Prime Minister of Canada on and off for twenty two years.   After reading this book and allowing for self-centeredness and perspective I do believe he was a very important man whose name should have been mentioned with Winston Churchill, President Theodore Roosevelt and World War II.   I would not try to list all Canada did for both wars but their contribution in money, and time seemed impressive.  The meetings, and friendship between the three leaders solidifies the impression of the Third Man.  Since I cannot vouch for the contents, the sheer uniqueness give it an automatic 5 for me.
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This is an interesting look at another world leader who was a contemporary of FDR and Churchill. I liked that Canada got a closer look and the personal relationship of its leader in WWII with the large personalities got a chance to shine. Too often Canada's role in WWII is overlooked, so much so that an alarming number of American high school students don't even know that Canada has a military or that they fought alongside America in WWI, WWI, Korea, and Vietnam. This might not have always been the most riveting read, but it is an important look at the contributions of our neighbors to the north.
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Neville Thompson's "The Third Man" highlights Mackenzie King's role during WWII. As a history major who learned a European-centric history of this time period and taught a U.S.-centric view of world history throughout primary and secondary school, I was surprised to learn the key role that King played during this critical time. 

Thompson's book gives us a detailed account of King's individual relationships with FDR and Churchill as well as their interactions as a group. What I found most fascinating, however, was the unique context that King's perspective brings to the complex relationship between FDR and Churchill. 

The Third Man provides so much detail about King and the relationship between these three men that it can be a slower read at times. While this is true, the context provided for the meetings and conversations between these three men was fascinating and made this account seem much more like "real life" than many history books lack when they fly at too high of a level.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII, Canadian history, FDR, or Churchill. It's likely not a book you could select for the casual reader, but I feel there's a lot in these pages that would be new and interesting to those with an interest in this specific historical period.
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This book tells the story of Canadian PM Mackenzie King's relationship with Churchill and Roosevelt before and during the war, and the part that he played in it, relying heavily on his extensive diary entries. I didn't know anything about Mackenzie King before reading this well-researched book, which was quite enlightening. An old-fashioned liberal with a classical education, King shared much in common with these leaders, but he had to stand up to them in the interests of Canada.

Although he was very much against war at first, disagreeing with Churchill, and he found Churchill impulsive and prone to make mistakes, they got on fairly well. However, he was a confidante of Roosevelt, although he often seemed to misunderstand him. Being Australian, I was also interested in his opinion of Menzies, and the author's analysis that King handled Churchill better than the Australians who were too agressive and not diplomatic.

Although this book is useful for students of Canadian history and WW2, it is rather academic and dry for general reading.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I am a big fan of biographies, memoirs & books about historical figures/events. This book seemed to be just my sort!
I am very aware of Churchill & Roosevelt’s friendship during the war, I knew of Stalin & De Gaulle but I had never heard of the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King. I was excited to find out about this mystery man who seemed to be a significant figure to both. 
Whilst I enjoyed learning about Mackenzie King and uncovering new insights into Churchill & Roosevelt through him, I found the book very heavy going and very academic rather than flowing nicely. Most books of this type have some additional narrative or perhaps description of an event as it appears to the outsider/press & then the “behind the scenes” story but this was fact after fact. As an piece of academic research, this book s excellent, as a book to read for interest not so much.
Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book free via NetGalley. Whilst thanks go to the publisher for the opportunity to read it, all opinions are my own.
#TheThirdMan #NetGalley
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's longest serving and 10th prime minister, was a go-between and occasional  confidant of both Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during WWII. This biography, making heavy use of King's own journals, chronicles the role he played. This is a meticulously researched, focused WWII book that I'm sure WWII aficionados and historians will enjoy. It is also quite focused for a book about WWII, somehow avoiding many rabbit holes and the need for lengthy asides.

As someone with rather basic familiarity about WWII and only moderate interest (I read 3 books about it last year, for example), I found this pretty hard to get through for pleasure reading. This is a book about a politician, and I wasn't surprised that it's primarily about politics. However, it's very much a "and then this happened" sort of telling rather than the historian imposing structure and interpretation on the events. This book made me realize I prefer the latter. The long descriptions of international meeting after meeting (broken up by King's comments about Churchill's siren suits or health) felt interminable. My three-star rating reflects this, but others will have their own experience. If I needed info about King for research, this would certainly be my go-to.

I was most interested in the politics of Britain's dominions during the war and how Canada fared. I had been expecting to see more about Canada's role in the war, perhaps with King functioning as a synecdoche of his state, or perhaps the occasional vignette about other important players or battles. Instead, this has a tight focus on King (who, alas, appears to have no vices other than perhaps a touch of sanctimony and a belief in mysticism). 

Mid-way through this, I asked a Canadian friend if she learned a lot about King in primary school, and she said "not really." Despite his work in WWII and his role in the development of a welfare state, he's considered rather boring as far as his personal legacy.  I don't think this book will change anyone's mind, but it does flesh out a less well-known aspect of history.
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Neville Thompson shines a brilliant, fresh light on the relationship between Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canada's 10th prime minister, the infamous William Lyon Mackenzie King. Mackenzie King and I have never gotten along much on a personal level, but this book changed some of how I saw and thought of him. Neville Thompson does a wonderful job of portraying how Canada's prime minister helped Churchill and Roosevelt navigate some of the most difficult times in world history's recent memory.
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