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Working the Dead Beat

Written by Sandra Martin

Foreword by William Thorsell

  • 448 Pages
  • 9780887842467
  • 9" x 6"



Publication Date September 29, 2012

Longlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize and selected as a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and an iTunes Store Best Book

Globe and Mail columnist Sandra Martin honours the lives of Canada's famous, infamous, and unsung heroes in this unique collection of obituaries of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Here are Canadian icons such as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, social activist June Callwood, and urban theorist Jane Jacobs. Here are builders such as feminist and editor Doris Anderson, and businessman and famed art collector Ken Thomson. Here are our rogues, rascals, and romantics; our service men and women; and here are those private citizens whose lives have had an undeniable public impact. Finally, Martin interweaves these elegant and eloquent biographies with the autobiography of the obit writer, offering an exclusive and intimate view of life on the dead beat.

Beautifully written, compelling, and vivid, Working the Dead Beat is a tribute to those individuals who, each on their own and as a collective, tell the story of our country, and to the life of the obit writer who chronicles their extraordinary lives.

Selected for the Globe and Mail Top 100 Book 2012

Long-listed for the Charles Taylor Prize 2013

Selected for the iTunes Store Best Book of 2012 2012


Sandra Martin
Sandra Martin is a journalist at the Globe and Mail . She has won writing prizes from the Society of Professional Obituary Writers, gold and silver National Magazine Awards, the Atkinson and William Southam Journalism Fellowships, and the Harvey Southam Lecturership at the University of Victoria. The co-author of three books, including Rupert Brooke in Canada and Card Tricks: Bankers, Boomers, and the Explosion of Plastic Credit, which was shortlisted for the Canadian Business Book Award, she is the editor of the bestselling and critically acclaimed collection, The First Man in My Life: Daughters Write about Their Fathers. She lives in Toronto with her husband, historian Roger Hall, and is the mother of two children.

William Thorsell


"... wonderful ... recent public life in Canada has included many fascinating and worthwhile characters." Winnipeg Free Press

"... a dizzying, dazzling, ultimately affirming collection ... stirring and heartbreaking." Quill and Quire

"Martin’s is a select history of Canada told through extended obituaries of both the known and the unknown, researched energetically and written graciously by one of the country’s leading journalists." Globe and Mail

"Working the Dead Beat is the most engaging and enlivening book about Canada that I've come across this year." National Post