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2.0 out of 5 stars
My last JR Saul book, April 25 2012
This is the third book by John Ralston Saul that I've read. The first was Voltaire's Bastards. I remember taking it on a beach holiday and struggling with it daily. Every few pages there was a bit of a pearl but it was at least a half dozen pages of slogging to get to that pearl.
One of the themes of that book was how important it was for authors to be accessible to readers. I groaned through much of the book at the irony of his repeated themes and round about style of writing. Accessible? Certainly not.
This book is the same. The overall theme of respect for the impact of Aboriginal culture on the make up of Canada is an interesting one. I don't know enough history to know if JR Saul over plays the point or not. Some of the other history I have read (eg: RIchard Gwynn's excellent two volume biography of John A MacDonald and others) would suggest otherwise or at least not as profoundly. I cannot help but think that there is a certain amount of redwashing going on in this book. All Aboriginal culture is apparently good and we ignore it at our peril.
While the book has worthwhile things to say, it is annoyingly poorly edited. What Saul needs more than anything is an editor who makes him stick to a theme and develop it in some sort of linear fashion. He goes around and around in circles repeating the same thing over and over. While there is wisdom in this book it should not be so hard to get at.
This should be a 60 page pamphlet or a long magazine article. It's not a book of this size. He rambles to fill the pages.
At points I wanted to put the book away but kept at it knowing there would be a good insight in the next chapter. I just don't think reading should be this much work. He isn't 'hard' to read intellectually. He's just a bit enamoured with his own verbiage I think. Having said that, there is some good progressive thinking contained herein.
This is going to be the last Saul volume I read.