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Lowe, Mick
Toronto, Macmillan Canada, 1992. 288pp, paper, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-9182-9. CIP


Reviewed by Patricia Cooper

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March

Mick Lowe is a respected journalist who frequently contributes articles to the Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, Maclean's, and Canadian Business. He is also the author of the national bestseller Conspiracy of Brothers {Macmillan Canada, 1988), which was voted the best true crime book of 1988 by the Crime Writers of Canada.

One Woman Army is a fascinating portrait of the life of Claire Culhane. Born in 1918, Claire Culhane has been all her life a courageous and indomitable champion of human rights. Lowe's account, while focused on Claire Culhane, details the people and the many important social struggles that took place in Canada and around the world in which she became involved. A few of these issues were the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War, her active participation in the Young Communist League and in the trade union movement in the 1940s, her denunciation of Canada's complicity in the Vietnam War, and her campaign for penal system reforms since 1975.

The author is clearly sympathetic to Culhane's position on every social issue: he ruthlessly exposes the hypocrisy and incompetence of bureaucrats and politicians who continually refuse to account for government policies and actions and, worse, deliberately hide the truth from the Canadian public. This is truly an excellent biography, a well-written, highly readable, exciting account of the life of an extraordinary Canadian. Each chapter is devoted to a specific period of Culhane's life and to the social issue of that time period. The eight-page insert of black-and-white photos shows Culhane from her childhood up to the present. The index and bibliography should prove useful to students and researchers, and the copious endnotes include an author's note on his sources.

One Woman Army is sure to be a valuable source of information for senior high school and university students studying Canadian social history in the twentieth century. For all who enjoy reading biographies, this is an inspiring story of how one person can make a difference.

Highly recommended.

Patricia Cooper is a children's librarian at Four Corners Resource Branch, Brampton Public Library, in Brampton, Ontario
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