Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000 is by history professor John English. (Random House)

A biography of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing on Wednesday evening.

Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000, by University of Waterloo history professor John English, shines light on Trudeau's legacy. The book also has also been nominated for the Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction.

"Just Watch Me sets a new literary standard for Canadian political biography," the jury said in its citation.

"Drawing upon previously inaccessible materials, John English deepens our understanding of the private, as well as the public, life of Pierre Trudeau."

English's first book about Trudeau, Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1919-1968 was nominated for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize  in 2006.

English was approached by the Trudeau family to write the biography and had access to notes and personal papers that earlier biographers hadn't seen.

Trudeau, who captured the public imagination with a mix of clever politics and whimsy, is considered alternately the greatest Canadian prime minister and the most reviled.

English won $25,000 at the Politics and the Pen gala on Wednesday evening in Ottawa. The prize is named for an outspoken MP from Windsor, Ont., who died in 1998.

The other finalists for the award won $2,500. They are:

  • Terry Gould of Vancouver for Murder Without Borders: Dying For the Story in the World's Most Dangerous Places.
  • Rudyard Griffiths of Toronto for Who We Are: A Citizen's Manifesto.
  • James Maskalyk of Toronto for Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-Torn Village.
  •  Daniel Poliquin of Montreal for René Lévesque.