Flora! - A Woman In A Man’s World

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Flora Isabel MacDonald – politician, humanitarian, adventurer, and role model for a generation of women – was known across Canada and beyond simply as Flora. In her memoir, co-authored by award-winning journalist and author Geoffrey Stevens, she tells her personal story for the very first time.

Flora! describes her amazing journey from her childhood and her time at secretarial school in Cape Breton, through her years in backroom Progressive Conservative politics, to elected office and her appointment as Canada’s first female minister of foreign affairs. Finally, she details her exceptional humanitarian work in India and in war-torn Africa and Afghanistan. Flora was driven by a lifelong conviction that there is nothing a woman cannot achieve in a world controlled by men, and she pursued this conviction in everything she did, carving a path for women in Parliament. She won international acclaim for bringing 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, and for engineering the rescue of six American hostages in Tehran in a top-secret collaboration with the CIA known as the Canadian Caper. She exposed the inhumane treatment of inmates at Kingston’s Prison for Women. She defied male chauvinists in the Progressive Conservative party by running for its leadership, and she introduced the Employment Equity Act to guarantee women equal access to federal jobs.

Flora was brave. She was relentless. She was controversial. She was a force of nature. In her own words and drawing from interviews with those who knew her,
Flora! grants us insight into this exceptional woman who changed the course of history.

Review

"Flora!: A Woman in a Man’s World is an inspirational presentation of a life of great achievement and feminist trail-blazing. Flora MacDonald was an extraordinary person who had an exemplary career as politician and feminist. This (auto)biography will be essential to preserving her memory.” Sandford Borins, University of Toronto

Flora!: A Woman in a Man’s World is a captivating tale of hopes and dreams, schemes and crushing disappointment. [Steven’s] decision to maintain the first person — writing as Flora might have — lends authenticity and intimacy while dispelling any ideas that this is a purely objective account. What emerges is a proud, private person with fierce determination, a commitment to social justice, and a strong sense of self.” Literary Review of Canada

Flora! is more than the history of a groundbreaking feminist (who, it must be said, never embraced that label). It is also a glimpse of Progressive Conservative Party politics in midtwentieth- century Canada. Typical of its time, the party was dominated by middle-aged white men, but it was also a party that had room for progressive Red Tories, such as MacDonald herself. She elbowed her way into those backrooms and has left a lively account of the policy battles and personality clashes in which she participated. For any student of party evolution in Canada, Flora! is a valuable source.” Charlotte Gray, Canada’s History

“A fascinating, seamless, and complete memoir of Flora MacDonald, a truly exceptional woman.”
The Miramichi Reader

“Reflecting on her life Flora states that “it is hard for anyone to assess his or her own accomplishments. I knew I had made a contribution, and I hoped I had made a difference in some of the causes that I took on.”
Flora! makes it clear that she definitely made both a contribution and a difference.” Canadian Historical Review