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BACCHANALIA REVISITED: WESTERN CANADA'S BOOZY SKID TO SOCIAL DISASTER

James H. Gray.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, c1982.
206pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88833-093-6.


Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by James H. Gray.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.


There is no doubt about where James Gray stands when it comes to alcohol. As the son of an alcoholic, Gray has firsthand experience of the miseries inflicted on family life through alcohol abuse. Later, as a reporter with the Winnipeg Free Press, he saw evidence of alcohol's devastating effects on the community at large.

According to Gray, we are in a crisis situation and not enough is being done to stop the slide. He examines the history of alcohol and alcoholism from the turn of the century and analyses the trends that led us to the present state of affairs.

Gray's statistics, which are not confined exclusively to western Canada, are thought-pro voking. From 1970-1980, the number of alcoholics in Canada rose from 300,000 to 650,000. There were almost 150,000 crimes of violence in Canada in 1978, and it is estimated that between thirty and fifty per cent of these were alcohol related. Similar statistics are cited to show the role of alcohol in cases of divorce, rape, child abuse, mental and physical illness, and in traffic fatalities.

The book is billed as "controversial," and in some ways it is. You get the strong impression that Gray has little time for liberal thinkers and has a pent-up disgust for the moral laxity of our age. His language is always to the point. Alcoholics Anonymous works because it is "simply drunks, talking to drunks about drunkenness." On the Indian reserves, "drinking to get drunk had become the chief and most favoured form of recreation, akin to what attending football or hockey games was to the white."


James H. Gray.
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