Allan LevineWelcome to the home page of
historian and author

Allan Levine

"[Levine] has an easy style and can pack a wealth of information into a brief essay."
Publishers Weekly

TORONTO: BIOGRAPHY OF A CITY
(Douglas & McIntyre, 2014)

William Lyon Mackenzie Kind

In the last sixty years, Toronto has been transformed from a provincial town to significant urban heavyweight. Few cities have experienced such sustained growth, and the packed streets of North America’s fourth-largest city are a far cry from the origins of the city as “Little York,” which was comprised of the lieutenant-governor’s muddy tent—which he shared with his wife and many children—and some barracks. Between then and now, fervent Orangemen have imposed strict morals on the growing provincial town, and an influx of immigrants changed the face of the city.

Allan Levine delves into the character of a city that strives to balance urban development with the preservation of its distinct neighbourhoods, to maintain its status without losing its individuality. Its inhabitants have fought tooth and nail to prevent an expressway being built to the downtown core, have called in the army to clear the city of snow after a blizzard and consistently pack the Maple Leafs’ arena every game, win or lose, making the hockey team the most valuable franchise in the NHL. The city can also claim one of the first Canadian politicians to stand up for gay rights, a store owner who almost single-handedly preserved theatre in Toronto, and then there’s Mayor Rob Ford…

With the same eye for character, anecdote and circumstance that made Peter Ackroyd’s London and Colin Jones’s Paris so successful, Levine’s captivating prose integrates the sights, sounds and feel of Toronto with a broad historical perspective, linking the city’s present with its past through themes such as politics, transportation, public health, ethnic diversity and sports. Toronto invites readers to discover the city’s lively spirit over four centuries and to wander purposefully through the city’s many unique neighbourhoods, where they can encounter the striking and peculiar characters who have inhabited them: the powerful and powerless, the entrepreneurs and the entertainers, and the moral and the corrupt, all of whom have contributed to Toronto’s collective identity.

Advance Praise for Toronto:

"Allan Levine’s biography of Toronto is a triumph of historical storytelling. Avoiding the worn path of grand themes and broad concepts of civic evolution, he instead ventures out, engagingly marshalling real-time encounters of people, places and events—the good, the bad and the ugly of it all. This fresh take on Toronto evokes a saga of the city that keeps the delighted reader turning the pages, eager to enjoy—and learn—more." —David Crombie, former mayor of Toronto

"Bloody amazing, brings Toronto alive as never before. Hogtown is dead. A shining metropolis lives." —Peter C. Newman, journalist and author

"Allan Levine has done the citizens of Toronto a great service. He has recorded in a way that’s both educating and entertaining one of the most concise histories published thus far in the community’s 221-year, fact-filled history as town then city. Visitors too will find Allan’s work indispensable in discovering how Toronto has evolved into one of the world’s most envied cities." —Mike Filey, Toronto historian and columnist

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KING
William Lyon Mackenzie King:
A Life Guided by the Hand of Destiny
(Douglas & McIntyre, 2011)

William Lyon Mackenzie Kind

Rated as one of the ten best books on Canadian Prime Ministers by Ken McGoogan, Globe and Mail, October 15, 2011

The first biography in a generation of Canada’s most eccentric and most important prime minister—Mackenzie King—and his defining influence on our 20th century.
Most Canadian historians consider William Lyon Mackenzie King to be not only the country’s greatest prime minister but also its most peculiar. From 1919 to 1948 he occasionally lorded over the Liberal Party, also serving as prime minister for much of that time.
Mackenzie King was a brilliant tactician, was passionately committed to Canadian unity, and was a protector of the underdog, introducing such cornerstones of Canada’s social safety net as unemployment insurance, family allowances and old-age pensions. At the same time, he was insecure, craved flattery, became upset at minor criticism, and was prone to fantasy. King loosened the Imperial connection with Britain and was wary of American military and economic power. Yet he loved all things British and acted like a praised schoolboy when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill or U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt treated him as an equal.

This first major biography of Mackenzie King in 30 years mines the pages of his remarkable diary, at 30,000 pages one of the most significant and revealing political documents in Canada’s history and a guide to the deep and often moving inner conflicts that haunted Mackenzie King. With animated prose and a subtle wit, Allan Levine draws a multidimensional portrait of this most compelling of politicians.

“Until now no one has ever done as magisterial a job as Levine in fusing King’s many parts into a complex but comprehensive whole.” — Brian Bethune, Maclean’s

“Levine has succeeded masterfully … By examining King’s personality and politics as two sides of the same coin, Levine has produced a wonderfully comprehensive portrait of this intensely disagreeable — yet critically important — Canadian.” — Quill and Quire, Starred Review

"If anyone doubted that King spent a lot of time in la-la land, they need only read Mr. Levine’s intriguing account, one that fleshes out new material from his voluminous diaries." — Lawrence Martin, Globe and Mail

“If the world needed further evidence to disprove the notion we need to know as much as possible about our political leaders, it’s between the covers of Allan Levine’s new biography of William Lyon Mackenzie King. …  A skillful introduction to one of the most important and perplexing personalities to grace the top levels of Canadian political performances.” — Kelly McParland, National Post

“Allan Levine gave himself the mission of turning this dull but eccentric Canadian into a subject worthy of contemporary discussion. He succeeds, bringing to life the inner thoughts of his subject as best anyone can. … [Levine] is one of those rare writers equally adept at fiction and non-fiction, helpful in the King case where the two realms seem to blend.” — Donald Benham, Winnipeg Free Press

Winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-fiction, 2012

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Fugitives of the Forest

Fugitives of the ForestA new edition of Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance and Survival During the Second World War (1998) has been recently published in the United States (and distributed in Canada) by The Lyons Press, an imprint of The Globe Pequot Press. This second edition includes a new introduction, addressing research on the history of Jewish partisans during the last decade. The book's publication coincides with the release of the major motion picture, "Defiance" (Paramount/Vintage) about the partisans and Tuvia Bielski and his brothers who saved 1,200 Jews in the forests of Belarus. The movie stars Daniel Craig (James Bond) as Tuvia Bielski as well as Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell and Alexa Davalos.

"I hope that Defiance will inspire [people] to learn more about the true story. They can read about it in Allan Levine's amazing book, Fugitives of the Forest. I couldn't believe these people's will to survive."— Actress Alexa Davalos, who plays Lilka Ticktin, the love and future wife of Tuvia Bielski.

"This is a story told just in time, for the many eye witnesses are dying every year now. But Levine carefully documents their accounts and reconstructs a powerful moment of triumph in the middle of the modern world's greatest catastrophe."— Doug Wead, U.S. presidential historian, philanthropist, and Special Assistant to U.S. President George H. W. Bush..

For more information about this book, click HERE.

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Breaking News

WLM KingA new e-book edition of Evil of the Age will be available from Skyhorse Publishing in October here and in an audio version narrated by Andy Capole from Audible here.

Sam Klein Mysteries Available Again: The Sam Klein Historical Mystery Trilogy — The Blood Libel, Sins of the Suffragette, and The Bolshevik's Revenge — set in early twentieth century Winnipeg are now available as e-books at Amazon.com's Kindle Store. See: www.amazon.com

CMHR

 

Watch for: Miracle at the Forks: The Museum That Dares Make A Difference by Peter C. Newman and Allan Levine, forthcoming from Figure 1 Publishing, September 2014. The engaging story of the making of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Readers are invited to e-mail me at:aglevine@shaw.ca

Allan Levine's books are available everywhere.

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