What We Talk About When We Talk About War (Antonine Maillet-Northrup Frye Lecture)

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9780864926227: What We Talk About When We Talk About War (Antonine Maillet-Northrup Frye Lecture)
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An Amazon.ca Editor's Pick for 2012 and a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2012

Shortlisted, Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction, Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and John W. Dafoe Book Prize

Longlisted, Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

A provocative examination of how communications has shaped the language of the media, and vice versa, and how rhetoric shapes how Canadians thinks of themselves as a nation and Canada's engagement in peacekeeping, war, and on the international stage.

According to Richler, each phase of engagement in Afghanistan has been shaped not only by rhetoric but an overarching narrative structure. This topic is very much in discussion at the moment. With the withdrawal of Canadian troops (at least in part) from Afghanistan, it becomes clear there had been a rhetorical cycle. Where once Canada wielded the myth of itself as a peacekeeping nation, the past decade has seen a marked shift away from this, emphasizing the Canadian soldier as warrior. Yet now, as the country withdraws, the oratorical language we use steps away from heroes, able warriors, and sacrifice and back towards a more comfortable vision of Canada in a peacekeeping/training role.

In recent years, Canada has made large financial investments in the apparatus of war — in a manner it hasn't in a very long time — and as the realities of war are brought home (the losses, the tragedies, the atrocities, the lasting repercussions that come home with the soldiers who were on the front lines), Richler contends that it's crucial we understand our national perspective on war — how we have framed it, how we continue to frame it.

Using recent events to bolster his arguments, including the shooting of American congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the earthquake in Haiti, Richler argues that very possibly the epic narrative of Canada is winding back down to that of the novel as we slowly regain our peacekeeping agenda.

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From the Inside Flap:

The campaign in Afghanistan transformed Canada into a warrior nation. What does this say about our country and its future?

"A country once proud of its role as a peace-making moderate is being reconstructed as a Canada defined by war, violence and death. Noah Richler has taken the trouble to tell us why Canadians should worry." — Desmond Morton, author of

Who Speaks for Canada?

"A fine polemic . . . You don't have to agree with everything Noah Richler says — I don't — but you must take him seriously." — Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919

"A tonic to the spirit, Richler's book explores the rootedness of Canadian values and connects them to the experience of life in an enormous and damn lucky country." — James Laxer, author of Tecumseh and Brock

"Noah Richler has written an important book of great clarity, insight and courage. This book deserves to be read and discussed in every political office, classroom, book club and legion hall in the country." — Ron Graham, author of The Last Act

About the Author:

One of Canada's public intellectuals, Noah Richler was a prize-winning producer and host of documentaries and features at BBC Radio before he returned to Canada in 1998 to join the founding staff of the National Post as its first books editor and later as a literary columnist. He has written for CBC Radio's Ideas, for the Op-Ed and cultural pages of the Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, and the National Post, and for the Walrus, MacLean's, and EnRoute, for which he has won several national magazine awards. He is the author of This Is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada, finalist for the 2006 Nereus Writer's Trust Non-Fiction Prize and winner of the 2007 British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. He lives in Toronto and in Digby, Nova Scotia.

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