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Canada: A People's History, Vol. 2 [Hardcover]

Don Gillmor , Pierre Turgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 6 2001
The top non-fiction bestseller of fall 2000 was the authoritative and beautiful Canada: A People’s History, Volume One. For fall 2001, M&S is proud to present the equally stunning and comprehensive second volume of this landmark work.

This fall, on consecutive Sunday evenings starting on September 30, the CBC will broadcast eight new episodes from its spectacular – and spectacularly successful – series Canada: A People’s History.

Volume Two opens with the rebellion over property and language rights for the French-speaking Métis in Manitoba, led by the charismatic and troubled Louis Riel – a key event in our history and one that haunts us to this day. It closes with the less bloody but no less traumatic confrontation between the Mohawk and the army at Oka, Quebec, in 1990.

Between these two harrowing events lie more than a hundred years of astonishing change and development in Canada. In those years Canadians have fought in two world wars, struggled through long, savage Depression years, adjusted to the post-war world, and peaceably accommodated themselves to wave after wave of immigrants arriving from around the globe. The political changes have been no less striking, with the eruption of nationalism in Quebec, women’s long fight for equal rights, and the creation of Canadians’ most cherished social service: universal health care.

Even more than was possible in Volume One, this well-researched book tells the major events of the twentieth century as a story of people: the famous and occasionally flamboyant politicians and public figures are here, but the book’s strength lies in the stories of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

The tremendous popularity and the impeccable historical accuracy of both the first year of the television series and the first volume of the book, surprised and delighted historians and reviewers alike. The second year of the series and the second volume of the book are both now poised to rocket to even greater success in 2001.

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The second of two coffee-table tomes accompanying the CBC television series of the same name, Volume Two of Canada: A People's History is history with the good bits left in. That is, while its authors never lose sight of the big picture, they are just as interested in the details, personal remembrances, and minor characters as they are the numbers, facts, and prime ministers. Beginning just after Confederation, in the last quarter of the 19th century, Volume Two takes us through more than 100 years of Canadian history, up to and including the cod crisis on the East Coast (somewhat arbitrarily, it seems, since the Chretien government and the 90s in general receive short shrift). Within its 300-plus glossy, generously illustrated pages, the reader will find all-but-forgotten figures and incidents. These include Sir Arthur Currie, a former schoolteacher who became a brigadier general during the First World War and contributed significantly to the Canadian troops' success at Vimy Ridge. Or Elsie MacGill, a 35-year-old aeronautical engineer who was assigned the daunting task of producing 40 fighter planes at the beginning of World War II. Nor do the authors gloss over the country's more shameful incidents, such as the Dene nomads recruited to transport uranium from a mine on the shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories for the atomic bomb. "The miners were paid three dollars a day to haul forty-five kilogram sacks of radioactive ore out to barges on the Mackenzie River," notes Gillmor. A few years later, they "died of cancer at alarming rates, and the Dene settlements became known as the 'Villages of Widows.'"

The scrupulously researched volume isn't without its drolly humorous moments, however. Regarding the cancellation, in the '60s, of ultra-square musical variety show Don Messer's Jubilee, the book quotes Opposition leader John Diefenbaker addressing the House of Commons: "Many people are asking that this show be continued, and they are not particularly pleased with the fact that the Black Panthers and the like apparently have an inside track at the CBC." While there is no evidence of any members of the militant African-American group working behind the scenes at A People's History, some readers might detect a bias, particularly regarding the Conservative Mulroney years. (The Trudeau passages are much better drawn than the Mulroney scenes, though this could be owing to the fact that Trudeau was simply a more exciting personality, and the period more tumultuous.) Whatever the party affiliations of those involved, A People's History transcends politics to become an indispensable, gorgeously illustrated addition to any curious Canadian's library. --Shawn Conner

About the Author

An award-winning journalist and writer, Don Gillmor is the author of the highly acclaimed 1999 story of his family’s roots, The Desire of Every Living Thing.

Achille Michaud, co-author of Richard Hatfield: Power and Disobedience, is a producer with Radio-Canada in Montreal.

Pierre Turgeon is a well-known Québécois editor and writer, who won the Governor General’s Award for his 1991 book La Radissonie: le pays de la Baie James.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear but simplistic March 24 2006
By A Customer
This is a good basic introduction to Canadian history that even young teens would find easy to read. I was annoyed at the number of random names and quotations that were dropped into the book without preamble or further discussion. If you're looking for an introduction though, and don't care too much about the minor details, this two part series is a good start.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good for study canada history Feb. 6 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it is very good for study canada history, very clear specify the step by setp to describe the each sections of history
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5.0 out of 5 stars CBC's Canada: A People's History Oct. 5 2007
By Pete C.
Excellent production by CBC - consider getting the entire collection of DVD's (4 sets) and the two books (volume 1 & 2).
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Canada: A People's History Vol 2 May 2 2014
By Louise Plamondon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since Volume 2 arrived before Volume 1, I read through this book quickly. Although I knew that the French Canadians were subjected to a great deal of degrading by the English over the years, this book reinforced what I thought I knew. I found the book to be very enlightening.
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