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Participant/Observer cover


1. eBook Edition
978-1-03-911903-1
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2. Paperback Edition
978-1-03-911901-7
  • Black & White
  • 282 pages
  • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
3. Hardcover Edition
978-1-03-911902-4
  • Black & White
  • 282 pages
  • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
Categories:
Keywords:

Memoirs, Civic Literacy, Nordic model, Parti quebecois, Boomer generation, public intellectual, electoral reform

Participant/Observer
An Unconventional Life in Politics and Academia
by Henry Milner




Henry Milner photo

Some engage in politics; others observe it, but the author of this political memoir is among the few that have had the chance to do both. In these pages, Henry Milner shares his experiences as a student and community activist, an anglophone insider and strategist in the Parti Québécois, and a close observer over several decades of social democracy in practice in Scandinavia and beyond.

Milner was born in a bunker in American occupied Germany. His parents, who had survived the war in the Soviet Union, moved the family to Canada, where they settled in Montreal. Earning a BA from McGill and his MA and PhD at Carleton, he spent his teaching career first at Vanier College and then based at the University of Montreal. He has also taught extensively in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Participant/Observer is Milner’s eleventh book. His writings, notably in Inroads, the Canadian Journal of Opinion, which he and John Richards founded in 1991, have led to opportunities to teach and conduct research in Scandinavia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Findings from these experiences have found their way into public policy discussion in Canada through the media and public forums. Milner’s recent focus has been on civic literacy, on the democratic institutions that underly social and economic progress, working closely with the movements seeking to reform the voting system in Canada and a number of provinces.

He and his wife, Frances Boylston, divide their time between Montreal and the Dominican Republic, where they are closely involved with the Meeting Place, a not-for-profit International Resource Centre they founded to help “snowbirds” to get to know the country and to provide locals and Haitian migrants with English-language and other resources to be better equipped for employment in a tourism-oriented economy.

Participant/Observer is a political autobiography of a generation, one that reached maturity in the 1960s and 1970s, told through one person’s story. In concluding, Milner holds out hope that this account of his generations’ successes—and failures—can be of use to current generations as they face the threat posed by populist and authoritarian forces, most dramatically to the capacity of contemporary democracies to meet the challenge of climate change.

www.participant-observer.com


One of Canada's leading public intellectuals, Henry Milner recounts his life as a committed thinker and activist. He is a practical idealist in the best sense. This book deserves a wide audience in schools and in the halls of power on how to live a life of value and meaning.

--Derek Shearer, Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy, Occidental College, and former US ambassador to Finland

As an Inroads subscriber, I know Henry Milner as a social democratic thinker and civic literacy booster. But his memoir opened my eyes to all the work he’s done as an academic, author and yes, a participant in the political life of Quebec, Canada, Sweden and other European countries. He’s tested his beliefs in real life and tells us what he thinks we can do to avoid democratic backsliding.”

--Ellen Roseman, consumer advocate, podcaster and instructor, former columnist with the Toronto Star.

Henry Milner has been both an actor and a voiceful witness in the evolution of social democratic ideals, ideas and actions in Québec, in Canada and in Sweden. His intellectual contributions over 3 generations have been and still are relevant, expert and experienced. His commitments and advice have also been courageous and wise. His depiction of the evolution of Québec is to the point.

--Pierre Marc Johnson Former Premier of Québec

Henry Milner has been an insider-outsider, observer and participant, academic and activist, deeply immersed in the currents that animated the baby boom generation’s highest aspirations. A rare anglophone on the Parti Quebecois national executive, with a lifelong academic interest in Swedish social democracy and electoral reform, his engrossing memoirs share his memories but more importantly ignite our own and offer valuable lessons.

--Harvey Schacter, Globe and Mail management columnist.

This is an important work. Milner had a front row seat for many transformative events over a half-century of progressive politics in Quebec. As an anglophone sovereignist, Milner had a unique perspective for observing a movement that shaped Canadian and Quebec institutional life for generations. A teacher, community organizer, candidate and activist he has had direct access to many key players and events. Reading Milner’s memoir offers a rare first-hand glimpse into language, education and democratic reforms that continue play out on the front pages to this day.

--Tom Mulcair, radio commentator and former leader of the New Democratic Party

A delightful memoir of Sweden and the Scandinavian model as it was conceived and has developed, with the added value and insight brought by the perspective of a dedicated transatlantic observer and friend.

--Anders Mellbourn, former editor in chief of Sweden’s main daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter and director of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs

Henry Milner, a public intellectual and activist whose interests roam from public education, and electoral reform to language legislation and fundamental rights, provides readers with a rich tapestry of life over the past half-century. This is much more than a memoir. Milner’s encounters with political movements and their personalities in many parts of the world makes this a source of precious insights and, perhaps, a cautiously positive perspective on the post-Trump world.

--William Schabas, OC MRIA, Professor of international law Middlesex University; Professor emeritus, Leiden University and National University of Ireland Galway,


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Henry Milner

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