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Canada: A Story of Challenge Paperback – Jan 26 2012
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Professor Careless's history of Canada, which was originally published in 1953 and first published as this second edition in 1963 is an account of the emergence of the Canadian nation from the long and enduring efforts to build a community in the North American continent, separate from the United States.
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In the early chapters the political, economic and religious lives of the colonies are very well explained. This is particularly the case with New France, an era of Canadian history in which I have a particular interest. The importance of the fur trade in the shaping of North America is made very clear.
In the later chapters it is represented that much of Canada's development was directed by the national government. As much as I appreciate the insights of this book, I find it hard to believe that government was such a dominant driver of economic development.
Once Confederation was achieved, the evolution of Canadian history is very well explained. I found it interesting to see how Canada acquired the attributes of nationhood so gradually that the achievement of milestones seemed, at times, to be almost imperceptible. This is quite a contrast with the American experience with its sharp divisions of history.
The development of the railways, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II and the post war boom are all part of the story of Canada and are very well told. The problems associated with conscription are well covered. Whereas other histories seem to treat French Canadian disinterest in Canadian wars as an unchanging element in the national character, Prof. Careless more discretely explains changes in French Canada's military participation over time.
If there is a deficiency in this book it is that the emphasis of government as a driver of Canadian history may be overplayed. I am more acquainted with the American tradition in which the government more reflects the country rather than molds it. Perhaps Professor Careless' view is flawed, or perhaps that is one way that Canada is different. This book makes me hungry to study further to find which conclusion is accurate. Perhaps this is a sign of a good book.