Staking Claims to a Continent by James Laxer
John A. Macdonald, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and the Making of North America

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...if this is a quieter volume than its predecessor, and if it at times treads familiar ground, it nevertheless adds insight and texture to Laxer’s continuing tale of how a continent of bickering, mutually suspicious European settlers created the remarkably peaceable North America we enjoy today.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

Three political leaders presided over the reshaping of the North American continent during the fiery 1860s. Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln were both born in Kentucky, Davis in June 1808 and Lincoln the following February. John A. Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in January 1815. All were Protestants; none came from a wealthy family. In an earlier era, such men would not have risen to political heights. They personified an age of social and economic transformation, thrust to the top by the very forces that tore the continent apart.

Davis tried to create a country by ripping the South out of the United States and establishing the Confederate States of America. Lincoln’s crusade to save the Union honed the industrial-military power that would one day dominate the world. Macdonald led the drive to shepherd the diverse British North American provinces into a federal state that would secure the northern half of the continent and keep Canada out of American hands.

In a high stakes game, these three national projects competed to create viable nation states. And the success or failure of the projects would have consequences — not only for the long-term future of the continent but for the entire global order.
 

About James Laxer

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James Laxer is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including the #1 national bestseller Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812, Stalking an Elephant: My Discovery of America (published by the New Press in New York as Discovering America), and The Border: Canada, the U.S., and Dispatches from the Forty-Ninth Parallel. He is a professor of political science in the Department of Equity Studies at York University. He lives in Toronto.
 
Published September 13, 2016 by House of Anansi Press. 352 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Staking Claims to a Continent
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Bourne on Jul 08 2016

...if this is a quieter volume than its predecessor, and if it at times treads familiar ground, it nevertheless adds insight and texture to Laxer’s continuing tale of how a continent of bickering, mutually suspicious European settlers created the remarkably peaceable North America we enjoy today.

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Preston on Jun 21 2016

The life stories of Lincoln, Davis and Macdonald promise much but deliver little, and there are too few surprises in Laxer’s account of them. Perhaps this is because he’s done little research of his own, instead relying on a pretty narrow selection of books by other historians.

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