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Penguin History of Canada Paperback – Oct 30 2007
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.``
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...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.``
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.