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BRITISH COLUMBIA: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY

Molyneux, Geoffrey
Vancouver, Polestar Book Publishers, 199; 133pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-919591-18-3. Distributed by Raincoast Books. CIP


Grades 9 and up/ Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Howard Hurt

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


This is unabashedly popular history writing, history based entirely on common knowledge with few scholarly affectations does not pretend to be encyclopedic and c be read cover to cover in a couple of evenings. I believe, for precisely those reason: will be a helpful resource for high school students and adults who want to get the history of this interesting and politically eccentric province in perspective.

Since the author's background is journalism and public relations, it is not surprising that his six sections read like feature article in a newspaper. A selection of facts has obviously been made but the essential story survives. Financial help from the Canada Council and a branch of the B.C. government underline the fact that the work is not frivolous and makes a genuine contribution to the literature of Canadiana.

The chapters, of approximately twenty pages each, are carefully standardized in format and could stand alone as independent essays. Each starts with a list of subject headings and two boxes, one offering some important but unrelated events elsewhere the world and the other summarizing B.C. demographics. Every page includes one 01 two photographs, reprints or maps.

The text is lively, written simply and always concentrates on the big picture rather than details. As much as possible, dates an statistics are pushed into marginal capsule Each chapter ending features an historical vignette designed to personalize the epoch.

The overall impression is of a story that not only well told but balanced. Of course, explorers and politicians get good play, but social and economic issues seem to predominate along with the feelings of ordinary citizens whether they be Native people, go miners or Joe lunch buckets. A good index permits easy access to specific events and a lean bibliography offers twenty-one monographs for the serious student.

This book offers good value for its price ( High schools in B.C. should buy class sets, public libraries across Canada need one or two copies, and anyone with a special interest in the province could afford a personal copy.


Howard Hurt is a librarian with the Education Library at the University of Brit Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia
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