Camelot and Canada explores Canada-U.S. relations in the early 1960s-the Kennedy era-a period marked not only by some of the tensest moments of the Cold War but also by the most contentious moments in the relationship between these neighboring nations. Exploring key political, economic, and military features of the Canada-U.S. relationship during this period, Asa McKercher challenges the prevailing view that U.S. foreign policymakers, including President John F. Kennedy, were imperious in their conduct toward Canada. Rather, he shows that the Kennedy administration continued to uphold the special diplomatic relationship that characterized the early postwar years. Even as John Diefenbaker's government pursued distinct foreign and economic policies, American officials acknowledged that Canadian objectives legitimately differed from their own and adjusted their policies accordingly. Moreover, for all its bluster, Ottawa rarely made a move without weighing the impact that its initiatives might have on Washington. At the same time, Camelot and Canada acknowledges the significant strain placed on the bilateral relationship in the early sixties, due to mounting Canadian doubts about U.S. leadership in the Cold War and a growing sense of nationalism in Canada.
Rooted in Canadian concern at their country's close ties with the United States, this nationalism came to be personified by Diefenbaker, whose personal clashes with Kennedy have become mythologized by historians and the public alike. McKercher highlights how the Kennedy era saw an increasing breakdown of the postwar consensus between Canadians and Americans, even as the special relationship between their governments continued to function.