Redemption Songs by Jon Tattrie

Redemption Songs won a 2017 The Very Best! Book Award for Non-Fiction.

do Nova Scotia, Black leader Marcus Garvey, and Rastafarian musician Bob Marley have in common? Very little, you might think until Jon Tattrie weaves some literary and historical magic to make it all seamlessly fit together in Redemption Songs (2016, Pottersfield Press), a treatise against racism and the false “colouring” of humans.
It was in 1937 that Marcus Garvey, who was close to death, gave an epic speech in Sydney, Nova Scotia in which he praised the town for “giving the Negro a chance.” However, it was the following passage from Garvey’s speech that was to inspire Bob Marley decades later to write “Redemption Song” the last cut on the last studio album he was to record:

“We are going to emancipate our minds from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”

Redemption Songs is one of those books that clarify, enlighten and educate at the same time.… Continue reading

Hector Maclean: The Writings of a Loyalist-Era Military Settler in Nova Scotia by Jo Currie, Keith Mercer, John G. Reid

Hector Maclean (1751–1812) was a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the 84th Regiment during the War of the American Revolution. After the war, Maclean settled in the newly created county of Hants, Nova Scotia, near present-day Kennetcook. This volume presents the annotated texts of two major historical sources: the letters Maclean wrote between 1779 and 1787, primarily to Murdoch Maclaine, and the diary he kept between April 1786 and April 1787 using the empty pages of his orderly book from the South Carolina campaign of 1781.… Continue reading

The Lynching of Peter Wheeler by Debra Komar

Author and forensic anthropologist Debra Komar has written two books to date dealing with murder and wrongful conviction in Atlantic Canada’s past. Her first book, The Ballad of Jacob Peck (2013, Goose Lane Editions) was about a murder inspired by religious fervour that occurred in 1805 in New Brunswick. The follow-up, The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (2014, Goose Lane Editions) is about the wrongful conviction of Peter Wheeler in the death of Annie Kempton in Nova Scotia in 1896.… Continue reading

Left to Die: The Story of the SS Newfoundland Sealing Disaster by Gary Collins

The story of the SS Newfoundland sealing disaster of 1914, in which 78 of 132 men died on the ice, is told in arresting fashion by Newfoundland author Gary Collins in Left to Die (2014, Flanker Press). Known as “The Story Man” in his native Newfoundland, Mr. Collins has written a book that will appeal to those who enjoy reading actual survival accounts from history.

Disaster Brewing

Having personally known two of the last remaining survivors of that tragedy, Mr.… Continue reading

Nta’tugwaqanminen (Our Story) by the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’qmawei Mawiomi

“Evolution of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq” (2016, Fernwood Publishing) this book is the product of years of research commissioned by the organization that represents the three communities of the Mi’gmaq that inhabit the northern part of the Gaspé Peninsula. It also involves the work of the community’s Elders (both oral and written stories), so it is a history written by Aboriginal peoples from an aboriginal perspective. It is also valuable for non-Aboriginals as well, for we learn of their history from their perspective, and come to see and understand their worldview and vision of life and their environment both before and after contact with Europeans.… Continue reading

Getting Around the Rock by Leonard Lahey

The challenges of establishing and maintaining various forms of transportation on the island colony of Newfoundland (pre-Confederation) posed various challenges and these are well documented in Leonard Lahey’s book Getting Around the Rock: by Land Sea and Air (2016, Flanker Press). The stories were primarily based on the recollections of William (Bill) Joseph Lahey, the author’s uncle and Raymond Lahey, the author’s father. Both were involved in various forms of transportation in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as establishing wireless telegraphy in the early days of communication.… Continue reading

Rapid Reviews: Two Non-Fiction Titles (April 2016)

The coming of spring brings with it many new book releases and the 'read' stack here at the Miramichi Reader is getting high. So I have resorted to writing some 'rapid reviews' of books that I have read and that do not require a lengthy article to summarize them. This works particularly well for non-fiction titles and I have two that I would like to incorporate.