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Barry Broadfoot.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1988.
386pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-77101675-1. A Douglas Gibson Book. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Prairie Provinces-History.
Prairie Provinces-Social conditions.
Prairie Provinces-Biography.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by R. Wieler.

Volume 17 Number 2
1989 March

This is Barry Broadfoot's fourth book using the technique of oral history. For this book the author travelled through the prairie provinces conducting interviews with older people who remembered the difficulties and achievements of westerners in the first half of the twentieth century.

The book provides dozens of colourful vignettes about prairie life told in the words of farmers, labourers, immigrants, and others. The stories reveal the courage, aspirations, successes, and biases of the "little" people who settled and helped build western Canada. Included are interesting reminiscences about the early days of homesteading, stories from immigrants who faced barriers of language and discrimination, and fascinating insights into the hardships and endurance of prairie people during the Great Depression. The collection of anecdotes reveals the spirit and uniqueness of westerners.

Stories in the first half of the book are arranged in a sequence of events in the first half of the century. In the second half of the book, Broadfoot highlights stories about the oil boom, relations with the Indians, and problems facing prairie farmers, and he comments on the future of western agriculture. Some significant themes - courage, independence and optimism for the future - appear in the anecdotes of the old-timers.

The author provides brief introductions for the seventeen chapters of the book and reveals an empathy for the struggles of prairie people. A majority of the tales appear to be told by residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The author might have included more stories from Manitoba, particularly southern Manitoba. An index catagorizing the anecdotes would have been useful.

Next-Year Country is a valuable reference for teachers and students at the high school level in courses in Canadian history and Canadian studies.

R. Wieler, Glenlawn Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB.
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