Saturday, November 17, 2007

What you should Read: Part 1: Canadian History

I was scrolling over my entries of late and deduced that while I post about literary things, I have not posted a book review in ages. So, catch-up time.

Let's begin a series. I will spend each blog entry focusing on one genre and giving you suggestions on what you might want to pick up in each.

For lack of a congruent marriage of books and flowing praise, I give you a list.....of books fairly recently read....

In Canadian History:


My Country: the Remarkable Past . Pierre Berton is the epoch of Canadian history. He somehow knows how to intertwine fact with a gallavanting gallop of a great yarn. Read anything of his---from these snippets of our past from coast to coast to Vimy to The Last Spike and you will see that the impeccable historian is also the consummate storyteller.

For Honour's Sake by Mark Zuehlke is the best book on the War of 1812 I have read since *cough* Pierre Berton did his take. I have read books that are somewhat distinctive to certain aspects of the war, but this is all-encompassing. This is storytelling at its best, dotted with facts about a period I had yearned to know about.

The Witch in the Wind by Marq de Villers is chock-full of interesting tidbits on the legendary Bluenose. I am an East Coast fanatic and would love to live there someday ( perhaps just a summer home though, as my potential career holds very little promise in the gorgeous Maritimes). When I was last in Halifax, this book was plastered all over the streets in the amazing bookshops they have on Barrington street. I was more than happy to give it a try.

The Curse of the Narrows by Laura Macdonald
Surprisingly not written by a Canadian, this is the first book since Barometer Rising I read that specifically dealt with the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Canada's most devastating disaster was told in short, no-nonsense form by this talented writer. As you can see, I am more than an afficianado of all things East Coast. This book helped deepen my love for the courageous people of the Maritimes and made me praise the instinctive resilience of humankind to forge through the most shattering of events. Parts put me in mind of the stories I heard of the Blitz. Workers would step over the rabble to find their places of employment and try to maintain dignity and normalcy in a world gone mad.


Private Demons: The Tragic Personal Life of Sir John A. Macdonald by Patricia Phenix
This book sold a lot last Christmas and at the Sir John. A dinner I attended ( with noted historian Jack Granastein as the keynote speaker). I quite enjoyed reading about the tumultous life of the Father of Confederation. Especially think of it now since I was in and around the Bellevue House area last weekend.

Itching to read my copy of Sir John A.:the Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn because I can never get enough of this period of history or the moulding of our country.


At the War Museum, I purchased a copy of Wolfe and Montcalm: Their Lives, Their Times, and the Fate of the Continent by Joy Carroll because early Quebec history, the seven-years war and the Plains of Abraham fascinate me to no end. If you have not been to Canada ever, I might even suggest starting in Quebec City. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and the resonance of its rich history penetrates the fortressed-walls and the narrow streets and the steep and majestic cliffs. I love this city and am proud that it is in the same country I am.


The Great Dominion:Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954 by David Dilks is a 9.99 book at Chapters and worth the bustling around in the remainder bin. Those well acquainted with the larger-than-life Churchill often forget that he was ever-so-fond of our Country as it was his most-visited in the Commonwealth. It was a little dry at times, but I appreciated the reproduction of some of the newspaper articles on his visits, and the inclusion of some of the letters he wrote while on our soil.


Kailana said...

Thanks for the recs! Some I own and just have not read yet, but others I have never considered before!

Anonymous said...

May perhaps read a couple of these for the Canadian book challenge thing. sounds lovely!!