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Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, 40th Anniversary Edition [Paperback]

George Grant
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 11 2005 Carleton Library Series (Book 205)
Canadians have relatively few binding national myths, but one of the most pervasive and enduring is the conviction that the country is doomed. In 1965 George Grant passionately defended Canadian identity by asking fundamental questions about the meaning and future of Canada's political existence. In Lament for a Nation he argued that Canada - immense and under-populated, defined by a shared border, history, and culture with the United States, and torn by conflicting loyalties to Britain, Quebec, and America - had ceased to exist as a sovereign state. Nonetheless, Lament for a Nation became the seminal work in Canadian political thought and Grant became known as the father of Canadian nationalism. The fortieth anniversary edition introduces Lament for a Nation to a new generation. A major introduction by Andrew Potter explores Grant's arguments in the context of changes in ethnic diversity, free trade, globalization and post-modernism. Potter discusses the shifting uses of the terms "liberal" and "conservative" and closes with a look at the current state of Canadian nationalism. George Grant's Lament for a Nation remains essential reading for anyone interested in questions of Canadian identity, sovereignty, and national unity.

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In 1965, George Grant's Lament for a Nation struck a chord with Canadians who feared the overwhelming influence of American commerce, culture, and technology. Nearly 40 years later, the controversy is still reverberating. Grant saw Canada's absorption into the United States as a done deal. Economic decisions taken in the 1940s undermined the country's ability to set its own foreign and defence policies in the 1960s, he argued. "Once it was decided that Canada was to be a branch-plant society of American capitalism, the issue of Canadian nationalism had been settled." A professor of religious studies, Grant vehemently opposed the Canadian government's acquiescence in allowing nuclear-armed Bomarc missiles on Canadian soil in the early 1960s. He deemed the Canadian military "an errand boy for the Americans," then broadened his attack to take aim at technological progress and the liberal principles that he believed sold the country out. Canadian nationalism has come up against thorny issues of continental relations for about 200 years. While he offered no practical solutions for stemming the erosion of Canada's sovereignty, Grant provided a framework for debate that has held up through free trade, the anti-ballistic missile defence shield, war in Iraq, and one mad cow. Just by posing the question, "can the disappearance of an unimportant nation be worthy of serious grief?", Grant's work became a galvanizing force for finding the answer. --Carolyn Leitch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Lament for a Nation should be respected as a masterpiece of political meditation ... In this study Professor Grant opened Canadian public debate, with frankness and depth, to include the most fundamental and perennial questions a nation must ask itself about the full meaning of its own political existence. He challenged us to reflect on the unique possibilities and limits constituting our destiny as Canadians." Peter Emberley, Professor of Political Science, Carleton University. "Masterpiece is not a word to use lightly, but Lament for a Nation merits it. In it Grant distilled his years of study of theology and philosophy, together with his knowledge of history and his acute attention to the daily passage of political events. The former adult educator put it all into a book that was instantly accessible to the broad reading public, but rewarded repeated reading by academic philosophers." William Christian, author of George Grant: A Biography

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NEVER HAS SUCH A TORRENT of abuse been poured on any Canadian figure as that during the years from 1960 to 1965. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinary book dealing with the pervasiveness of U.S. culture in Canada, and how Canadians have seemingly allowed their own culture and politics to be subsumed into American versions. Although written from a small-c conservative point of view, and in the 1960s, it remains an extraordinary book that will intrigue any person interested in Canada and US relations. In addition, Mr. Grant is a gifted writer; his fluent use of words in a serious political work such as this one, only accentuates his poetic capabilites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Grant's writing is impeccable. March 31 2014
By Painter
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Canada truly had a national identity up until the 1970's, when multiculturalism was enshrined in our constitution through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When the Human Rights Commissions were established to enforce this poorly thought out idea, our liberal democracy began to die. The right and freedoms of the individual were cast aside in favour of the majority mob. You must read this book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book is regarded as some sort of theoretical underpinning of the variety of conservatism for which John Diefenbaker, Canadian Prime Minister 1957 to 1963, stood. It stands in contrast to 'Rogue Tory', the magisterial biography of Diefenbaker by Denis Smith, which I have reviewed for Amazon elsewhere.

Both books are absorbing, though in rather different ways.

Neither of them make complete sense to me.

Frankly, in various of the actions of Mr. Diefenbaker I do not see some sublime, conservative analysis at work: the firing of Governor Coyne from the Bank of Canada for doing his job; the raging of Diefenbaker against his colleagues during his long, enforced retirement; the refusal to help the Kennedy Administration during the Cuban Missile Crisis; the creative arithmetic in which he indulged when talking with British ministers, to his colleagues' consternation, and the British ministers' bemusement. Accident prone, is, rather, the phrase that comes to mind. Smith's book's great strength is the very detailed way in which he presents Diefenbaker's life, peppered with high entertaining anecdotes; but a strong sense of cynicism seems to pervade the book; as if to say that the conservative, God-fearing families of mainly English Canada which elected Diefenbaker should have no voice. But, then, Grant isn't really identifying himself with that strand of opinion, either.

But Grant does have a point in saying that liberal-minded managers in large, North American corporations have a lot of power; in other words, what may be convenient for large corporations need not necessarily be regarded as automatically best for Canada. Written in 1965, this has plenty of relevance now. Except that President Dwight D.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Essay thet Presaged theGlobalization Debate Aug. 27 2002
By Tom Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the light of September 11th, many Americans are asking the rhetorical question 'Why do they hate us so?' This essay from 1965 brilliantly outlines the forces, in modern liberalism, that are antagonistic to local culture. The lament that it describes is a lament for a local nationalism that has been abandoned by its population in favor for the attractions of a global culture based on American values. These American values are the values of the modern culture, in which traditional values which provide meaning to life are abandoned for the ease which modern technology can bring. Traditional values which provided meaning but also constraints to human life and action are being abandoned according the this book view for a shallow notion of human freedom. This shallow freedom is the freedom to enjoy temporary conveniences at the expense of the ability to live life in compatibility with eternal principles. What meaning that modern life can provide are rationalizations of self-indulgence which will be adjusted to fit the needs of technology as it evolves in its self-defined way.
The book describes how Canadians have abandoned their traditional 'conservative' values in favor of the easy continentalist option of acquiring American wealth by accepting American values. The author describes how 1960s Gaullism in France was a reaction to the same forces. The same observations can be made today about the knee-jerk anti-Americanism in Europe and France in particular that is paradoxically based on the inherent attractiveness of American values. The American culture is becoming the world culture. It is dispossessing all other cultures that it encounters. This provokes a reaction among 'conservative' (which includes the globalization protestors who in this book's terms are conservative in respect to culture although they would see themselves as anarchistic, radical etc.) who fear that the cultures that they value are going to be lost to the forces of technic- `the one best way'.
I cannot do justice to this book which links these ideas into the flow of Western ideas. It shows the conflicts that of these differing sets f ideas in the works of philosophers and theologians. it does so in a manner that is very accessible to the general reader but has also provided a basis for research by professional philosopher's, political scientists etc. for the 37years since it was published.
This book is on a par with Jacques Ellul's 'The Technological Society.' It is a book that will be remembered and studied for hundreds of years. It uses as its starting point the issue of Canadian nationalism but its implications are universal. I wish that I could give it six stars.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb commentary on Canada - U.S. culture & politics. July 20 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an extraordinary book dealing with the pervasiveness of U.S. culture in Canada, and how Canadians have seemingly allowed their own culture and politics to be subsumed into American versions. Although written from a small-c conservative point of view, and in the 1960s, it remains an extraordinary book that will intrigue any person interested in Canada and US relations. In addition, Mr. Grant is a gifted writer; his fluent use of words in a serious political work such as this one, only accentuates his poetic capabilites.
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