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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on October 3, 2008
Don't watse your money on this pulp fiction account of current affairs by Andrew Cohen who admits that he does not research what he writes. This is a book that the sonner that it gets off the presses that it loses its value and becomes outdated. Exactly like the author's articles in The Citizen. This is the same author who wrote The Unfinished Canadian, another journalistic diatribe, including bashing Ottawa and everything from our Governor General to some key institutions of Canada.
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on September 2, 2005
Throughout this work, Cohen challenges the notion that Canada remains the class of the world. He illuminates Canada's gradual, yet concerning decline from its golden days; and how so many of us were "asleep" while this decline took place and maintain great complacency with a stature that has not been renewed in a long time. In the end he suggests an integrative approach to recapturing our glory days, which must begin with our awareness of how far we have fallen. Not a difficult read and ideal for the reader who is seeking an open minded account of where Canada should be.
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on January 27, 2005
Thought it was amazing. Every politician today should read this book and try to do something about Canada's sinking. READ THIS! It'll open your eyes. Cohen provides some great background info for those not old enough to remember the triumvirate of men he's so fondly dubbed "The Renaissance Men".
Intense and spirited. Flawed, biased - and excellent.
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on June 16, 2004
I wish every Canadian politician would read this book. I was afraid at first that Cohen would be a bit too partisan - he has presented before House of Commons Special Comittee's - but it is not. It is firstly a guideline to how Canada can attempt to pull itself out of it's (our!) apathetic slump. Secondly it is a fascinating, all be it partial, history of Canada's famed Diplomatic and International dealings.
Please buy a copy and send it to your MP.
Oh, and I don't know what that other reviewer was talking about - a good section of the book deals with the world changing and thereby Canada's role changing.
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on April 3, 2004
I would recommend this book to any Canadian interested in our nation's place in the world. This book examines the foundation behind many of our national myths and demonstrates the decline in our stature and influence. The book isn't simply a litany of problems, it also suggests what could be done to improve the situation. At the very least, these issues deserve a national debate, not the gradual decline through neglect that is currently happening.
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on December 28, 2003
This critique of Canadian foreign policy will humble readers who are under the impression that Canada has a notable place in the world comparable to its illustrious past. Andrew Cohen gives us a brief overview of the history of Canadian foreign policy, dispeling several myths including our supposed past of being primarily neutral peacekeepers. At the end of ww2 Canada's military was the 4th largest in the world with the capacity to develop nuclear weapons if necessary. More importantly, Cohen reveals information about the state of the current military detachment in Afghanistan which makes one wonder whether our presence there is more of a liability than an asset to coalition forces.
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on December 25, 2003
Cohen does a reasonably good job of recapping the facts of Canada's decline as a middle power since the end of the Second World War. Probably a third to a half of the book is simply a jog through 50 years of Canadian history, emphasising the 40s, 50s and 60s as the decades when Canada was a country of some influence. He pays the usual homage to senior civil servants Lester Pearson (before he became PM Pearson), Norman Robertson et al, seeing them as the key to Canada's ability to punch above its weight on the world stage.
Where Cohen goes astray is in failing to treat Canada's foreign, defence, trade and aid policies in the broader context of world affairs. His book does not really acknowledge that the world has changed, and indeed that Canada's post-Second World War moment of influence was very much a function of Europe's collapse. And apart from vague appeals to do more and spend more, Cohen doesn't seem to have much of a vision of what he would have Canada do with any new-found/restored influence.
All that said, it's still a worthwhile read, if only to get your own thought processes going.
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on August 14, 2003
This book was a good read, and provided a great overview of Canada's post-war foreign policy. Cohen also nicely incorporates the thoughts and lives of Hume Wrong, Norman Robertson and Lester Pearson into the narrative. As I suspect most will sheepishly admit, I had never heard of the first two! At just over 200 pages, this book doesn't waste your time, and you get a lot out of it.
My only complaint with the book is that it could have had more context for some of the discussions. For instance, Cohen describes how Canada's foreign aid is too thinly distributed across to many countries and programs. While this is true, Canada is hardly unique in this regard. The entire development community and the World Bank can all be accused of this to a great extent (see, for instance, William Easterly's "The Elusive Quest for Growth" and recent article "The Cartel of Good Intentions" in Foreign Policy, plus Jessica Einhorn's "The World Bank's Mission Creep" in Foreign Affairs). As the definition of "development" expands, it's hard not to spend on health, education, governance, legal reform, etc., etc. Otherwise you could well be accused of the simple, narrow-minded economic policy interventions of the past, and with a fair amount of justification.
Similarly, Cohen also describes a staff retention crisis at the foreign affairs department. This was eye-opening, but I also had no sense of how specific these problems of retention of good staff were to the department or whether they reflected the problems all organizations have had in the past decade or so training and retaining good professional staff. The situation does sound serious though, and he documents it well.
All in all, a good, quick read. I recommend it highly.
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