Politics & labour

Dispossessed and exploited

“[Henaway] cites many cases where workers have been exploited and then deported using the laws of the land, including Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.” Ron Verzuh reviews Essential Work, Disposable Workers: Migration, Capitalism and Class by Mostafa Henaway (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2023) $27 / 9781773632254

Revisiting the ‘Last Spike’

“The building of the CPR has been one of the core myths of the country, one of the stories that explain how Canada came about.” Daniel Francis reviews Dominion: The Railway and the Rise of Canada by Stephen R. Bown (Toronto: Penguin Random House, 2023) $39.95 / 9780385698726

She looks beyond the headlines

Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls by Angela Sterritt Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2023 $34.95  /  9781771648165 Reviewed by David Milward * “The true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.” The quote has been attributed to both Mahatma Gandhi and former American Vice…
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What should we extract?

Pitfall: The Race to Mine the World’s Most Vulnerable Placesby Christopher Pollon Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2023$39.95  /  9781771649124 Reviewed by Alexandra Pedersen, PhD * The term “sacrifice zones” conjures images of a toxic landscape left permanently barren by rapacious capitalism; consumed until there is nothing left with no possibilities, no hope for the future. Billionaires,…
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No. 2000 for the BC Review!

When we launched The British Columbia Review — then The Ormsby Review — in September 2016, little did we expect that seven years later we’d post our 2000th review. I’m grateful to everyone — reviewers, publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers — for making it such a success and promoting BC writers, writing, and culture. It…
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1972 Make injection sites, not criminals

Decrim: How We Decriminalized Drugs in British Columbia by Kennedy Stewart Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2023 $24.95  /  9781990776304 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * Former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart speaks from political experience when he describes the struggle to have hard drugs like heroin and cocaine decriminalized in Canada’s third largest city. He also speaks…
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1961 Illustrating logging camp life

The Rangitangs: Life on the Edge – A Humorous Look at Coastal Loggers Float-camp Life from the 1920s to 1950s by Mike Whalen Self-published by Mike Whalen, 2023 $40.00 (soft cover)  /  978173885723 Reviewed by Matthew Downey * Inspired by the cartoon collection from which it draws its name, The Rangitangs: Life on the Edge is…
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1956 The fire dragon

Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast by John Vaillant Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2023 $38.00  /  9780735273160 Reviewed by Trevor Marc Hughes * John Vaillant opens his book with a quote from the fire chief of Fort McMurray, Alberta: “No one’s ever seen anything like this…this is rewriting the book.” We are soon…
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1954 Survival of the fittest Scots

Unsettled: Lord Selkirk’s Scottish Colonists and the Battle for Canada’s West, 1813-1816 by Robert Lower Toronto: ECW Press, 2023 $29.95 /  9781770417182 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * Many of us learned about Lord Selkirk’s Red River Settlement in high school or college, but we’ve never read it so up close and personal as Robert Lower…
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1930 From one generation to another

The Matryoshka Memoirs: A Story of Ukrainian Forced Labour, the Leica Camera Factory, and Nazi Resistance by Sasha Colby Toronto: ECW Press, 2023 $24.95  /  9781770417359 Reviewed by Theresa Kishkan * More than 3 decades ago, on a family camping trip, I bought a set of matryoshka dolls in an art gallery in Wells, BC….
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1927 Impossiblist Maverick

Class Warrior: The Selected Works of E.T. Kingsley by Benjamin Isitt and Ravi Malhotra (eds.) Athabasca: Athabasca University Press, 2022 $34.95  /  9781778290046 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * Chances are you’ve never heard of Eugene Thornton (E.T.) Kingsley. Chances are also good that if you had heard of him you might not like him or…
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1923 A complex path to justice

The Fierce: The Untold Story of the Teenager Who Took on the Worst War Criminal Living in America by Judy Piercey Cheltenham, UK: The History Press, 2023 £20.05  /  9781803991153 Reviewed by Peter Hay * The Holocaust was not a single event, confined to a singular city or country, nor was it caused by one…
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1922 Irresistible Stikine

Stikine Odyssey: From Adventure to Activism with The Great River by Peter Rowlands Victoria: FriesenPress, 2023 $24.49  /  9781775238348 Reviewed by Trevor Marc Hughes * What is it that draws adventurers to the Stikine River? For me, in 2012, it was a desire to see this beautiful, and integral, landscape in northern British Columbia before…
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1910 What’s in a name?

Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them by Lauren Beck Montreal: Concordia University Press, 2022 $34.95  /  9781988111391 Reviewed by Jeff Oliver * Is it possible to read a nation’s history through its place names? Lauren Beck’s new book Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them makes a compelling case for it. This…
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1903 Corporate media bad guys

The Postmedia Effect: How Vulture Capitalism is Wrecking Our News by Marc Edge Vancouver: New Star Books, 2023 $25.00  /  9781554201976 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * Notice how your local newspaper isn’t quite what it used to be? Maybe there are fewer local news stories reported. Maybe it’s no longer serving as a watchdog at…
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1902 Knowing the forest

Strong Winds and Widow Makers: Workers, Nature, and Environmental Conflict in Pacific Northwest Timber Country by Steven C. Beda Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2023 $24.95 (USD)  /  ISBN 9780252086823 Reviewed by Gordon Hak * The book title might suggest that there is little of interest here for British Columbia readers, who often do not…
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1869 Fascinating life, flawed memoir

You Have Been Referred: My Life in Applied Anthropology by Michael Robinson Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2021 $21.95  /  9781988440705 Reviewed by Kirsten Bell * Many of my anthropological brethren jealously guard the boundaries of the discipline. Although there is no formal registration process for anthropologists, the standard view within most professional associations is that a…
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1868 An inconvenient tale of Ukraine

Ukrainian Scorpions: A Tale of Larceny and Greed by Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson Toronto: ECW Press, 2023 $28.95  /  9781770415676 Reviewed by Larry Hannant * Their proxy war in Ukraine against Russia floundering, the Western War Heads have been able to retain their mastery only on one crucial front line – propaganda. At least…
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1819 The personalities behind the paper

Printer’s Devils: How a Feisty Pioneer Newspaper Shaped the History of British Columbia, 1895-1925 by Ron Verzuh Qualicum Beach, BC: Caitlin Press, 2023 $28.00 / 9781773861036 Reviewed by Patricia E. Roy * Small town newspapers can reveal much about the communities they serve. Indeed, Ron Verzuh suggests that Printer’s Devils “plays a double role, first…
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