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Writers' Trust Announces Year's Best Books: Biographies, Beetles, and Borders Populate Shortlist

TorontoFebruary 22, 2012 – The Writers’ Trust of Canada announces the finalists for the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The winner will be named in Ottawa on April 25, 2012, at the Politics and the Pen Gala.

Finalists include a recounting of the fractious debates and secret negotiations of Canada’s most important political conference since Confederation; a biography of our first prime minister’s pivotal years in office; a rethinking of the intellectual development of Pierre Trudeau, from his postgraduate years abroad to his ascension to the prime ministership; an investigation into the pine beetle epidemic that has destroyed 30 million trees across western North America; and a chronicle of the border between New Brunswick and Maine, which serves as a microcosm for relations between Canada and its neighbour. Each nominated author will receive $2,500.

The finalists, selected by the jury of journalist David Akin, historian Charlotte Gray, and political scientist Janice Gross Stein, are:

(Click on cover for more info)

Ron Graham | The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada
Published by Allen Lane Canada

Richard GwynNation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times; Volume Two: 1867-1891
Published by Random House Canada

Max and Monique Nemni (authors), George Tombs (translator) | Trudeau Transformed: The Shaping of a Statesman, 1944-1965
Published by McClelland & Stewart

Andrew Nikiforuk | Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests 
Published by Greystone Books/David Suzuki Foundation

Jacques Poitras | Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border
Published by Goose Lane Editions

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize is sponsored by Bell Media and supported by the Politics and the Pen gala. 

About the Prize
Now in its twelfth year, the prize is awarded annually to a nonfiction book that captures a political subject of interest to Canadian readers and enhances our understanding of the issue. The winning work combines compelling new insights with depth of research and is of significant literary merit. Strong consideration is given to books that, in the opinion of the jury, have the potential to shape or influence Canadian political life.

About Shaughnessy Cohen
The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing was established in honour of the outspoken and popular Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario, who died on December 9, 1998.

About Politics and the Pen
Politics and the Pen is the highlight of the capital’s spring social calendar and an important annual fundraising event benefiting the Writers’ Trust. Held at the Fairmont Ch√Ęteau Laurier, the event attracts 500 guests from the city’s political and literary circles. Microsoft Canada sponsors the Politics and the Pen dinner, and MTS Allstream Inc. sponsors the Politics and the Pen pre-dinner and post-dinner receptions. To date, the Politics and the Pen Gala has raised more than $1.75 million to support the programs of the Writers’ Trust.

About the Writers’ Trust
The Writers’ Trust of Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to advance, nurture, and celebrate Canadian writers and writing through a portfolio of programs, including literary awards, financial grants, scholarships, and a writers’ retreat. Writers’ Trust programming is designed to champion excellence in Canadian writing, to improve the status of writers, and to create connections between writers and readers. Canada’s writers receive more financial support from the Writers’ Trust than from any other non-governmental organization or foundation in the country.


For further information:
Becky Toyne (416-871-0502,

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