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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
Having enjoyed The Englishman's Boy and The Last Crossing, I was looking forward to reading A Good Man. I was not disappointed. It is a wonderful Dickensian novel with a many-stranded narrative and finely drawn characters (even minor characters such as the aptly named Pudge). Set in the 1870s, mainly in the borderlands of Montana/Alberta, it tells interlinked stories of...
Published on Sept. 27 2011 by Spitfire

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Myth and pathos in the Canadian West
One of the proudest boasts of Canadian history is that Canada settled the West peacefully, while our American neighbors drenched themselves in the blood and killings of Indian wars and lawless cowboy shoot-outs when America turned its face toward the Pacific after the carnage of the Civil War.
This myths is severely tested in the latest work from Canada's...
Published on Nov. 16 2011 by Raymond Argyle


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, Sept. 27 2011
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
Having enjoyed The Englishman's Boy and The Last Crossing, I was looking forward to reading A Good Man. I was not disappointed. It is a wonderful Dickensian novel with a many-stranded narrative and finely drawn characters (even minor characters such as the aptly named Pudge). Set in the 1870s, mainly in the borderlands of Montana/Alberta, it tells interlinked stories of the Fenian incursions and the showdown between the Sioux and the U.S./Canadian governments. Vanderhaeghe is a first-rate literary story-teller and I enjoyed every minute of this vivid work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch storytelling with literary credibility, Nov. 1 2011
By 
Rodge (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
Vanderhaeghe follows the #1 rule of novelists - don't be dull. He also incorporates a great deal of history skilfully and seamlessly into an endlessly readable story about the Canadian west. He incorporates both the Fenian attack at Ridgeway and Sitting Bull's excursion into Canada - an eyebrow raising confluence of big Canadian historic events, but it doesn't feel forced. Wesley Case is the central character in this novel - he's a friend of Major Walsh who became a friend of Sitting Bull during his Canadian stay. He participated in the Battle of Ridgeway and is haunted by a shameful secret from that event. Shame and his desire to set a destiny apart from his father's political manipulations motivates in large part what he does throughout the events of this book. Wesley Dunne is the villain of the book, a thoroughly human and thoroughly despicable character who we nevertheless can understand if not sympathise with. Ada Tarr fills in the triangle.

As you might guess, Vanderhaeghe uses conventional literary structures and elements - this is not an experimental novel. But he combines and innovates with them in surprising ways, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable and fresh read. On any level - writing, entertainment, historicity - this novel is a must-read and a winner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read, Oct. 22 2011
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
Another great read from a master story teller. GV creates mind pictures that stay with you long after you finish the book , like a good film running through your head. These characters become very real and there are no contrivances here. A very pleasant way to relax and escape.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Novel!, Aug. 12 2012
By 
grapemanca (Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
Guy Vanderhaeghe, a Canadian writer who deserves much more attention than he receives, has written another masterpiece. If you enjoy Dickensian-like storytelling and effortless historical fiction, A Good Man is a sure bet.

Set primarily in Montana and the Northwest Territories (ie. Alberta) in the 1870's, Vanderhaeghe's novel weaves many fascinating historical events and characters together in an astonishingly workable fashion. The North West Mounted Police (including Maj. Walsh), Sitting Bull, various North American native tribes, Custer and the American cavalry, the Fenians, Canadian spies, and Canadian and American politicians all make their appearances without ever feeling contrived.

The central characters, Wesley Case, Ada Tarr and (especially) Michael Dunne, are richly drawn and believable. The motif of misunderstanding is woven throughout their interlocking stories, and the reader is treated to very believable and engaging characterizations.

Vanderhaeghe has occasionally gone overboard in past novels with experiments with point of view, but this novel is relatively muted. Told primarily from the 3rd person point of view and past tense, Vanderhaeghe nevertheless uses first person narrative and the present tense in a skillful way to point us to the different characters' assumptions; this allows us to fully understand why the characters behave the way they do, and creates a fascinating tale of clashing intentionalities that leads to a very satisfying conclusion.

A Good Man is a literary yarn that combines plot, character and virtuoso writing in a wonderful manner, and it's one of the best novels I've read in years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars V for violence, Aug. 1 2012
By 
L. Neish (British Columbia, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Good Man (Paperback)
I agree with many of the other reviews about the quality of writing and well researched plot, but just a heads up about some of the descriptions of graphic violence. Perhaps it was just my sensibilites, but Yikes, there were about three incidents where I couldn't finish the page it was so awful. Guy Vanderhague is one of my all time favourite authors but I can't call this book relaxing. Edgy yes. The quantity of letters written between Case and Walsh got a bit tedious too but the intent seemed to be to use them as vehicles for historical information, so I didn't skip any of those. Please Guy not so much detail in gore next novel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD MAN, Dec 12 2011
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
I love Vanderhaeghe, and enjoyed his latest novel, but -- The Last Crossing, in my mind was still his greatest work. I enjoyed the history lesson, and having traveled extensively though Montana (mostly via Canoe) loved thinking about the landscape in the novel. I will purchase many copies for the folks on my Christmas list, including my old cowboy father (very much like Walsh). Thanks Guy.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Myth and pathos in the Canadian West, Nov. 16 2011
By 
Raymond Argyle (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
One of the proudest boasts of Canadian history is that Canada settled the West peacefully, while our American neighbors drenched themselves in the blood and killings of Indian wars and lawless cowboy shoot-outs when America turned its face toward the Pacific after the carnage of the Civil War.
This myths is severely tested in the latest work from Canada's preeminent western novelist, Guy Vanderhaeghe, whose thick, rich novel, A Good Man (McClelland & Stewart) completes his trilogy of prairie west historical works.
Vanderhaeghe has built his novel on the detritus of the 20 years following the Civil War. Between 1860 and 1880, the tensions of western settlement spilled across the American border into Canada, putting a nervous edge on relationships between Washington and Ottawa.
The U.S., intent on using its Army to annihilate the Indian tribes of its northern plains,looked for Canadian cooperation in preventing the tribes, especially Chief Sitting Bull's Sioux, from fighting back behind the safety of the "Medicine Line" that divided the two countries.
In British Canada, meanwhile, a few hundred men of the Northwest Mounted Police were charged with chasing whiskey traders and keeping the peace as white settlement began to trickle into what would become Saskatchewan and Alberta.
In A Good Man, a disillusioned Mountie, free to leave the force after his term of duty, departs Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills, with the intention of setting himself up with a cattle ranch in Montana. Wesley Case carries a terrible secret in his heart, the guilt of an incident from a long-ago battle in Ontario when he led a regiment of Canadian Militia against an Irish Fenian invasion.
Case goes as the unpaid agent of the NWMP's Major James Walsh, having agreed to keep him informed of the activities of the U.S. Army commander in the Montana Territory. It is shortly after the massacre of Gen. George Custer and his men at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The Americans are terrified of further Indian attacks, most fearful of all of Chief Sitting Bull, whose tribe is wandering somewhere in the Territory.
Sitting Bull's escape to Canada, where he is sympathetically received by Walsh, does little to ease American fears. They dread the possibility of further Indian resistance, and demand his surrender and confinement to a reserve.
Meanwhile, much is happening to Case. He finds a ranch, begins a curiously restrained affair with Ada Tarr, wife of a disreputable Fort Benton lawyer, and finds his life under the threat of Michael Dunne, a man who has been tracking Case since his days back in Ontario. In Dunne, Vanderhaeghe has created one of the most bestial villains of Canadian literature.
Vanderhaeghe resists the temptation to present Canadian treatment of the plains Indians as much better than what they suffered in the U.S. True, there was no genocide as happened under the U.S. Army. But Canada betrayed Sitting Bull by starving his tribe into submission, forcing its return to the U.S. There, he becomes a carnival object in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show before he is murdered in 1890 by a native policeman acting on U.S. Army orders.
A Good Man has no shortage of dramatic episodes but does the relatively minor diplomatic standoff between Canada and the United States really warrant the 464 pages of this hefty tome? Vanderhaeghe, an author who advocates that novelists take off their historian's hats, devotes interminable pages to historical exposition. An almost endless number of letters between Case and Walsh depict the tensions between the Major and his U.S. Army counterpart. Much of this gets in the way of a gripping good story. It would be more powerful if it had been 25,000 words shorter.
Vanderhaeghe's new work completes a trilogy of Western novels, following The Englishman's Boy and The Last Crossing. It may not be his strongest, but it is a fitting finale to the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars So so.Not what I expected, April 22 2014
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This review is from: A Good Man (Hardcover)
Didn't finish reading this book. I didn't find the characters believable. The write ups on some novels don't deliver what is promised
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Great read!, Nov. 26 2013
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This review is from: A Good Man (Kindle Edition)
Interesting characters - I loved the way theirs lives intertwined. The story kept me in its grips to the last page.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Took forever to get through, May 21 2013
By 
J. Bustard (new brunswick, canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Good Man (Paperback)
The two story lines were distracting. The history lessons felt forced not part of the story. The writing itself was sometimes very beautiful.
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A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe (Hardcover - Sept. 13 2011)
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