CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 7 . . . . November 30, 2001
The Halifax Citadel provides readers with a close-up look at one of Canada's best-known bastioned forts. It begins with a fairly detailed description of the fortress: its buildings, geographical features and armaments. It then proceeds to a discussion of the soldiers who lived there and what their lives were like at the time period in question, which is 1869 - 1871. In the second part of his book, Cuthbertson examines the fort's history and describes the genesis of each of the four different structures that emerged over the years to assume the role of the Citadel.
The book has as its subject a most entertaining and colourful topic. Many of the historical points that are brought out will undoubtedly prove interesting to young and older readers alike. It provides a very vivid description of life at this time. In fact, one of the book's chief strengths is this realistic depiction of the daily lives of the soldiers. By not romanticizing their experiences, the author offers readers a candid insight into the time period. Many of the photographs and illustrations are also eye-catching and well-chosen.
Unfortunately, however, I did find this book to be very dry in its presentation of much of the information. It could have benefitted greatly from the use of anecdotes or stories of individuals to relieve the monotony of much of the text. The style of writing is dry and academic, making the book read too much like an old history text. The format also proved to be very frustrating in that it is often difficult to distinguish between the explanatory text accompanying the pictures and the actual text of the book itself. The book seemed to suffer from a glaring lack of any sort of unifying theme to hold the data together, and it has no clear audience. There is not enough information provided to make it a must-have for researchers or history buffs, and yet it is not elegant enough to make it a coffee table book. The Halifax Citadel will find its niche as a souvenir piece and/or as a homework book in school libraries.
Recommended with Reservations.
Lisa Doucet is a children's bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, NS.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.