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MY DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.

Mowat, Farley.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 125pp, cloth. $12.95, ISBN 0-7710-6624-4. CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Catherine R. Cox

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March


On April 23, 1985, Farley Mowat set out for Pearson International Airport in Toronto to travel to the United States for a tour to promote his new book, Sea of Slaughter,* He was turned back at the border. This is the story of his fight with the United States government to find out why they would not admit him into the country. It appears that, since he could not make his promotional tour, he would make the most of the situation and create a media event. Jack McClelland, his publisher, and Mowat went to the press and tried to stay in the papers at least for the length of time Mowat had allotted for his tour, that is, until May 5, 1985. This short book contains an account of events and the background to them. To make it longer than a newspaper article, Mowat has included a lot of editorials from newspapers in both Canada and the United States as well as letters he received from loyal and outraged fans. Actually, the editorials all support his position as well.

Touted on the dustjacket as a "hilariously stinging account," this book is actually not all that funny. Its tone is more that of outrage. The United States bureaucracy did likely act with the stupidity Mowat describes. The warning one receives that the McCarran-Walter Act is still extant and, under Reagan, is being used once again, is worthwhile. Many Canadian citizens have been affected by it and the accounts given of Roland Penner's, George Woodcock's, Barker Fairley's and Pierre Trudeau's treatment at the hands of American customs officers would outrage anybody. When all is said and done, however, the important information found in this book is likely available in a good magazine article or new-paper account of the incident. This is a book thrown together quickly to capitalize on a newsworthy event. There is no index and there are factual errors. The Democrats' slogan in 1844 was "Fifty-four forty or fight" not "55 40' or fight." In the end there is no great discovery of a secret reason for denying Parley Mowat entry into the United States. It is what he thought it was at the beginning. It appears he has not been forgiven for joining groups that oppose United States foreign policy and for firing a 22 calibre rifle at SAC planes carrying hydrogen bombs over his backyard in 1968. Not recommended as a purchase for libraries.


Catherine R. Cox, Moncton U.S., Moncton. N.B.

*Reviewed vol. XIII/2 March 1985 p. 60.

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