This was the most fun I can ever remember having with Canadian history. I was fascinated by the characters' personal lives, and very interested in the development of Newfoundland as a country before it entered Confederation. I wish it could have been written from the point of view of Sheilagh Fielding, who I found much more interesting than Joey Smallwood. Smallwood's naked ambition was almost his only character trait. But I guess Johnston might not have been able to include as much detail in his political history if he had followed Fielding instead of Smallwood, so in the end it was probably the right decision. Wondering how much more I would have loved the book if Fielding had been the main character is what keeps me from giving it a 5 out of 5.