So around page 150 of Richard Rohmer's unrelentingly tedious E.P. Taylor, it dawns on you that you're not going to find much of anything about the title subject other than an interminable litany of the ins and outs of his business deals - mergers, acquisitions, stock issues, an incredible accumulation of wealth by one clever man. A clever man you end up finding next to nothing about.
Oh yes - near page 300 we find out he recovered from "minor surgery". Seemingly he had some kids and a wife and they lived in a few different houses. Did he teach them to ride bikes? What did son (and noted author, though you wouldn't know if from this book) Charles think of his father's empire? Who knows? That kind of detail would take up valuable space where we could be learning about the number of common shares of B.C. Forest Products Taylor's Argus Corporation controlled.
Page after page we are told of business associates who were "close friends" with E.P. Are any of them interviewed for the book? Is anyone who didn't think he was one of the great Canadians of the 20th or indeed any other century? That would detract from what is evidently the point of the book - to paint Taylor's business career in the most reverent of light and ignore any naysayers or people who weren't cheerleading "Taylor watchers".
Nearly 350 pages are required to go over his business dealings in excruciating detail at the expense of anything substantial about Taylor the man. And in addition to how boring this all becomes, it also becomes particularly cringe-worthy when by page, oh, 1 you realize that Rohmer is so impressed by Taylor that any pretense toward objectivity is wishful thinking at best. Rohmer can't hide the fact he thinks so much of Taylor the businessman that the book is littered with comments and asides that won't hear otherwise. To wit:
"Although at least one other person has claimed authorship of the idea for Don Mills, it was E.P. Taylor alone who put it together, hired the people to acquire the land, to prepare the plans and to get on with the negotiations".
"It was clear to E.P. Taylor that one of prices of big business in small, parochial Canada was prosecution, government style"
"Argus was becoming a legend in its own time, as was Edward Plunket Taylor"
(Quoting a letter from the president of the University of Toronto): "Dear Eddie - What a man! What a citizen! What a leader you are!!!"
"By 1956, the fruits of Taylor's initiative, imagination, drive and know-how were coming into final shape".
And on and on. But we never learn anything about Taylor other than the fact he likes to make money and win horse races. The few times we skirt the personal, what do we find out? Well, for Taylor's surprise 50th birthday party, guest George Black is quoted as saying the chorus girls were the ugliest he's ever seen, and Taylor and his friends hoot and holler the night away.
This was likely the most difficult book we've yet read, and that's saying something. Go back and read Chris's great posts for further details about how repellent this all can be. I have nothing much else to add other than Brian - whatever is our lowest grade so far either gets beaten by this or is now tied for last place in the pantheon.