John Richard English, historian, professor, politician (b at Woodstock, Ont, 26 Jan. 1945). After completing a bachelor's degree at the University of Waterloo, John English undertook graduate studies at Harvard University, where he received a PhD in 1973. He returned to teach at Waterloo, becoming full professor there in 1985.
His first major book, The Decline of Politics: The Conservatives and the Party System (1977) won him recognition as an important historian of Canadian politics and ideas. Together with Robert Bothwell and Ian Drummond, English wrote two volumes surveying the history of Canada in the twentieth century: Canada, 1900-1945 (1990) and Canada since 1945: Power Politics and Provincialism (1981, 1989). The three authors depicted Canadian history as a success story, in marked contrast to the work of many Canadian scholars, who concentrated on Canadian weaknesses and depicted the country as a colony of the US.
English's work on Canadian prime ministers established him as the pre-eminent historical biographer in Canada. His two-volume work on Lester Pearson won three national awards. In 2006, he published the first volume of his biography of Pierre Turdeau and became editor of the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
English served one term as a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (1993-1997). He later took on a series of assignments for the federal government, including chair of the board of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and special envoy for the election of Canada to the United Nations Security Council. From 2001 to 2009, he served as founding director of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Canada's largest think tank on international affairs.