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The Penguin History of Canada [Paperback]

Bob Bothwell
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 30 2007

Canada is in many ways a country of limits, a paradox for a place that enjoys virtually unlimited space. Most of that space is uninhabited, and much of it is uninhabitable. It is a country with a huge north but with most of its population in the south, hugging the U.S. border. An uneasy and difficult country, Canada has nevertheless defied the odds: it remains, in the 21st century, a haven of peace and a beacon of prosperity. Erudite yet accessible and marked by narrative flair, The Penguin History of Canada paints an expansive portrait of a dynamic and complex country.


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Product Description

About the Author

Robert Bothwell is a professor of history and director of the International Relations Program at the University of Toronto. He has written books on a wide variety of topics in Canadian history, from atomic energy (Eldorado: Canada's National Uranium Company and Nucleus) to French–English relations (Canada and Quebec) to Canadian–American relations (Canada and the United States).


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Canada, it's been said, has been the victim of too much geography. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to canadian history Aug. 10 2009
Format:Hardcover
I did some research before deciding to buy this book. I was looking for an introduction to the history of Canada, and I wasn't disappointed.

The book is well written and flows easily from start to end. My only complaint is the lack of timelines/references/indexes at the end that could have summarized all the names, places and major events which become hard to remember once you're half way through the book.

Otherwise, the book was very informative and has greatly expanded my knowledge on the subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye for Canada`s Ironies Dec 25 2009
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This version of Canada`s story moves at a brisk, entertaining pace through the ages of colonization, nation-forming, and the perils of the twentieth-century. Bothwell shows a keen eye for irony, noting, for example, how French Canada`s loyalty to its British conquerors was bolstered when 50 priests from Old France arrived, fleeing the French Revolution to preach devotion for church and king. The choice of narrative details is objective, gives offers scope for critical humour: ``Pearson signed the North Atlantic treaty, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Washington on April Fool`s Day, 1949, while the U.S. Marine Band played a selection of popular tunes including ``I`ve Got Plenty of Nothin`.``

The book gives substantial treatment to recent history, with its battles over free trade, NAFTA, the attempted Meech Lake revision of the constitution, the Quebec independence referendum of 1995, and Canada`s role in global issues of genocide or the war on terror.With the hindsight of recent events, Bothwell points out developments which drew little attention when they occurred: ``Pearson and St. Laurent stoutly defended to the skeptical and neutralist Indians the good intentions of the United States, even when it meant that the Americans were arming India`s neighbour Pakistan -- in the interest of anti-communism.``
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars engaging but rather unbalanced Oct. 6 2010
Format:Paperback
It would be difficult to adhere to the highest standard of historiography while covering such a long span of time and write engagingly and get a clear story of the larger connections across. Still, the author manages the latter two (engagement and story) only by sacrificing the semblance of a balanced account.

If you are interested in a cloak & dagger version of the exploits of Canadian politicians and generals, and do not take the subject matter of the personal lives of so many peoples too seriously, then this book is for you... at some point, however, it will become too obvious that the voices of 98% of the people whose lives get chronicled in passing (poor people, women, eastern and southern Europeans, religious minorities, to say nothing of first nation and Metis people) are either outright missing or treated in a very superficial manner. While a lot can be gleaned about the outlines of (inside) history of Canada's powerful, this book needs to be supplemented by historical works which at least attempt to do justice to other perspectives.

At the end of the day, this book provides more answers than questions - a very mixed blessing for those who want to learn from the historical record...
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative and readable text June 23 2012
By Battleship - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an outstanding one-volume work of Canadian history. Bothwell displays an expertise in analyzing the complicated and nuanced economic activities among the provinces and between the emerging Canadian sovereign state and other nations. The author demonstrates a keen understanding of nuanced trade agreements between Canada and Britain from mercantilist days to the present. He also explains with great clarity the relationship between Canada and the American colossus to the South.

Bothwell provides a comprehensive look at Canadian history from prehistoric times to the present Harper administration. He covers the migrations of the French and British with an appropriate amount of details. He describes the wars for empire and the effects that European migration had on the native peoples. He also delineates the different approach of settlers from England and those from France. He gives enlightening coverage of the Metis community.

A main highlight of this book is the abundance of credible information about the relations between the French-speaking residents of Quebec and the English-speaking majority in Canada. This relationship has caused tension and uneasiness and has been a headache for Canadian politicians to deal with. Bothwell points out the sources of controversy and gives a balanced account that articulates the views of both communities and all representative special interest groups.

Bothwell writes an interesting narrative. He describes the accomplishments and shortcomings of the important Canadian political leaders, such as MacKenzie King, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau,and Brian Mulroney. The work is largely free of ideological bias. There is little editorializing and the author does a good job of presenting both sides of controversial topics.

The work focuses mostly on trade, economics, and politics. Cultural history is not broached in great detail. This is one drawback of the book. However, the author makes up for this by writing is a lively, energetic, and passionate manner. He is a clear communicator and gives essential information in a way that is informative and entertaining.

Overall, this is an excellent book. It is a surprisingly quick read. The author does a great job of providing essential information and leaving out unnecessary details. The book is written with expertise and passion. The author is a talented wordsmith and the work is outstanding from a literary standpoint.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye for Canada`s Ironies Dec 25 2009
By Brian Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This version of Canada`s story moves at a brisk, entertaining pace through the ages of colonization, nation-forming, and the perils of the twentieth-century. Bothwell shows a keen eye for irony, noting, for example, how French Canada`s loyalty to its British conquerors was bolstered when 50 priests from Old France arrived, fleeing the French Revolution to preach devotion for church and king. The choice of narrative details is objective, but often gives scope for critical humor: ``Pearson signed the North Atlantic treaty, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Washington on April Fool`s Day, 1949, while the U.S. Marine Band played a selection of popular tunes including ``I`ve Got Plenty of Nothin`.``

The book gives substantial treatment to recent history, with its battles over free trade, NAFTA, the attempted Meech Lake revision of the constitution, the Quebec independence referendum of 1995, and Canada`s role in global issues of genocide or the war on terror. In the hindsight of recent events, Bothwell points out developments which drew little attention when they occurred: ``St. Laurent stoutly defended to the skeptical and neutralist Indians the good intentions of the United States, even when it meant that the Americans were arming India`s neighbor Pakistan -- in the interest of anti-communism.``
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book June 5 2013
By Historyguy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had always wanted a history of Canada and I took a risk with this book and the risk paid off. This book was well written and very informative. I am very happy I have this book and will definetly look into more of the author's works.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of Canadian history March 22 2014
By J. Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to all readers, but particularly to fellow US citizens for its invaluable gift of relating Canada's history to our own. There are ways in which it tells us more about pre-revolutionary and revolutionary history than you will find in most US texts.

For Canadians, this flyover may do insufficient justice to some critical aspects of the nation's history, but it still serves as an important overview. It is not just a political history, but delves deeply into the economic and social changes that shaped the Canada we know today.

Few history books qualify as page turners, but this comes close.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good entre, but... June 13 2014
By Gregory Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good entre into Canadian History for those who have no familiarity with the subject. However, it's really dry. Gets a bit boring.
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