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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 2, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta Solunloy, Oclobar 1, 1WI THI inHBRIDG! HERALD Hook the University By J. W. FISHBOURNE Required reading for Canadian "The Last Spike, The Great Railway 1881-1885" by Pierre Berton, (McClelland and Stewart, 478 pages, TF one follows Pierre Her- ton's career (and many people do) one wonders quite logically if he ever stops to eat, ever gets a good night's sleep, or ever takes a few days off now and then. His writing must consume hours and hours, his TV interviews surely must take much effort, even though they look effortless, and his regular appearance on Front Page Challenge has help- ed make this program a peren- nial favorite with many Cana- dians. Although Berton is only in his early 50s, how he can manage such a relentless schedule is a mystery to the average person with a normal amount of ener- gy. If he ever acquires a ner- vous stomach from all his ac- tivities I'd like to make a wager that he'd even undertake to do his own acid-indiegislion "advertising. His latest and most prod- igious effort in the last couple of years has been researching, collating and setting down in entertaining fashion the story of the ups and downs related to the planning, financing and finally laying down of the Ca- nadian Pacific Railway. The National Dream, the first volume of the two volume chronicle, set the stage, listed the cast of characters and gave a detailed outline of what, was needed in the way of a trans- continental system which would allow the west to open and ul- timately link, by lengths of steel, the entire, sparsely set- tled country from one coast to another. The Last Spike, the second volume just off the press, lifts the curtain on the whole drama, and a few more cha- racters get into the act which ends with the nailing down of that last famous spike fi- nally and with a sigh of relief. In this volume we see an aging Sir John A. Macdonald lose his enthusiasm for bis na- tional dream through exhaus- tion, illness and the wearying controversy which led up to the decision to go ahead and build the railway, come what may. And concerned as we become over the financial ups and downs presented in Dream, in Spike, we are inclined to Get a little impatient with the CPR syndicate which included not- ables such as George Stephen, James J. Hill and Donald A. Smith all supposedly finan- cial experts but who unfortu- nately, time after time, show- ed about as much adeptncss at handling the accounts as the treasurer of a Brownie pack. My favorite characters in this Cinerama-sized epic are Major A. B. Rogers, who was quite literally a pathfinder, particularly through the moun- tainous route; Sam Sleelc, the dedicated Mountie who kept law and order among the transient and always volatile construe- tion workers, and (probably most appealing to many read- ers) the Yankee immigrant William Cornelius Van Home, the single-minded manager of the CPR. It was his drive and energy which kept the railroad from being abandoned in some god-forsaken hushland when re- curring crises beset it. It was, for the most part, his decision where to locate towns and sta- tions which did much even- tually to shape the geography of (he nation. As the railway slowly creeps west, (it took laborers four and a half years to build it) we see private enterprise and profiteers jumping on the novel bandwagon, buying and selling real estate in Winnipeg and elsewhere in anticiption of a flood of immigrants. We see gangs of Chinese coolies work- ing endless hours a t skimpy pay, digging a line through the Rockies; we hear the bitter ar- gument over which way the railway should go north across the prairies or soulh through the Rockies, an endless debate which divided the engi- neers and the surveyors and the financiers. There was the Riel Rebellion which tested how rapidly troops could be moved into an area, even though the route from the east at that time was incom- plete broken here and there like tracks on a child's train. There wras Uic decision by three determined men in an of- fice in Minnesota (all with in- terests in the project who ul- timately decided that the rail- way must take the southern route to the west, contrary to the expressed wishes of the government. On and on tlic in- cidents are related; anecdotes from dusty (.rchives recounted, and characterizations portray- ed as authentically as records could supply. It's a big story and a long book. After count- less scene changes which show us details of people and places, the curtain rings down as the last spike is finally driven in by a leading director of the railway, Donald A. Smith. Although MJ. Berton had ac- cess to any number of files and personal documents in his re- search on the CPR from the first dream to the last spike, he regrets that the CPR did hold out on some documents and files, particularly the Van Home letters. He argues that anything which has to do with the building of Canada's first transcontinental railway is in the public interest and shouldn't be locked up in some musty cupboard. That's as may be, but in this case only Mr. Berton knows for sure. The readers are treated to enough of a feast of early Canadiana as it is; any more and it may have proved a bit much. 1 like Hie Last Spike more than The National Dream, but why. think perhaps the writer's style was a little friendlier in the fi- nal volume in places it gets real chatty-like. This makes it easier to pick up ;infl put down, and if you've IK-TO making pickles as I have been this past week it doesn't do to get so im- mersed in a book that the darn tilings burn. In my own humble opinion, if ail history could be related as absorbingly as licrton's vol- ume there would be more gen- uine interest in our national background and less grousing among students. I would rec- ommend that both these books be added to the required read- ing lists for all high school stu- dents. MARGARET LUCKHURST. a profession An alpine blossom -Walter Kerber Photo. Crowsnest Mountain viewed from the air looking north north-west. Conspiracy to cover-up a conspiracy "Frame-Up: The Martin Lnlhcr King-.Iames Earl Ray Case" by Harold Weislierg (Outerbriilgc. and Dienstfrey, .MO pages, S12.50, distributed by Clarke, Invin and Com- pany TJISMAY and disbelief were endemic when James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, was committed to prison for 99 years without a trial. How could American justice be sa- tisfied to forego a thorough scrutiny of the murder of an international figure, especially when there was a strong sus- picion that a conspiracy vas involved? The outrage which Harold Wcisberg expresses in this book will be shared to some degree by most of those who read it or read about it. Mr. Weisberg does not be- lieve thai James Earl Ray was Ihe murderer: he proposes (hat he was involved in the murder as a decoy. Apparently that is also his theory about the role Life is a dirty joke "St. UrlJ.iin's Horseman" by Mordecai Iticlilcr. (Mc- Clelland and Stewart; pages, S7.fl.Sl. 7-JUMOR has it that Canadian writer Mordecai Richler has been working on this major novel for six years. I can be- lieve it. The range of charac- ters taken from the ghetto of Montreal's St. Urbain St., to the plush London offices of Britain's film moguls, is diversified and extensive and so is the hack- ground. It's an epic of con- science in the modern world set in the imaginative context of rich Richler humor and wit. The main protagonist is Jake llersh, a St. Urbain St. Jewish kid who marries an English goy and lu'ls the big lime entertain- ment world in Britain. Ilersh has just about everything going for him. Tlie pinnacle is in view when he conies a cropper. He's properly had by a worm called Ilarry Stein who crawls from underneath his slone to ruin the prize apple. Harry gets Jake into deep trouble. Both of them are charged with sexual assault and lewd behavior, apropos of a German ail pair girl. They're brought up before the court nt Old Bailey. (The account of the trial which continues through- out the novel is Richler at his best bold ludicrous, rib- crackingly funny.) Jake's problem is his eternal conscience. It prevents him otherwise enjoying his idea] marriage, makes him dubious about his right to success, forces him to look at himself inside and out with negative re- sults to his ego. The avenging angel, his conscience, is in real- ity his cousin Joey, the mystery hero of bis childhood, forever close to his grasp, forever elu- sive. It's all bizarre in the ex- treme, much of it based on Richlcr's own life and observa- tion excluding of course, the sex episode. He's never been accused of any deviation or immoral behavior. Jake finds life is a kind of crude joke, a black comedy in which the whole human race is involved n scatological triumph of extreme cxplicitness, a serio- comic expose of the absurdity of the human posture and con- dition. This is his subject, cop- rology his way of getting it across. Richler fans who can take it will roar with laughter. Those who can't can leave it elonc. JANE HUCKVALE. played by Lee Harvey Oswald in "tlie assassination of Presi- dent John F. Kennedy. (Ac- cording to the list of books at- tributed to the author on the fly-leaf, the probing of that case has been a passion with Weisberg and he draws fre- quent attention to what he thinks are parallels in the two cases.) Tlie attempt to prove the con- spiracy thesis is not made; the substance of this book is an examination of the unsatisfac- tory way in which James Earl Ray was made to appear to be the murderer. This results in charges of a frame-up involv- ing suppressed evidence in wliich tlie whole establishment was implicated: the U.S. attor- ney-general, the FBI chief, the presiding judge, the lawyers, black leaders, writers, and the supine press. 1 am not convinced that tlierc was a conspiracy to cover-up a conspiracy but I wish a trial had been conducted so that some of the suspicions of Ihe sinister involvement of others besides Ray in the assassina- tion could have been explored. It is hard to believe that Ray unaided could have travelled so far and spent as much as he did. His dropping of a bundle of evidence, including the fire- arm used in the murder, near the scene of the crime seems utterly stupid on the part of a man who was clever enough to elude capture for so long. There is something very suspi- cious about two similar auto- mobiles having been near tlie place where the murder took place and of the unsatisfactory identification of the one sup- posedly liclonging to Ray. These and other things cry for better explanation than seems to have been given. A less ill-tempered approach would almost certainly nave been bctler advised for winning support for re-opening the case. As it is, the book leaves the impression that Mr. Weisberg is a crank, t marked a number of places where public officials were called liars and where people by name were accused of things that seemed almost defamatory lo me. He takes every opportunity to heap sar- casim on J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, and his scorn for lawyer Percy Foreman is obvious. There is also considerable evidence of perseculionism in 'the author. Almost every re- guest for assistance in his re- search was ignored! Obviously everyone was trying to pre- vent him from carrying out his project! even his re- quest to a newspaper for a copy of a certain day's publi- cation failed to get a response. It is ironical that Mr. Weis- berg should generally have a low estimate of newspapers. They too readily fell in line with the anti-conspiracy posi- tion of the establishment, in his view. Yet the indictment built against the way the Ray case was handled is preponderantly drawn from newspaper reports. The book is not well organ- ized and is somewhat of a chore to read. Much of it could probably be dismissed by a le- gal mind but there is just enough in it of substance lo keep the pot o f discontent over American justice simmer- ing- DOUG WALKER. Caution: rodeo fans "ItODEO! The Suicide Cir- cuit" by Fred Schnell (Rand McNallr and Company, 128 pages. 1JODEO is a great sport the same, however, can- not be said for this book. The book, in the main, is an explanation of the various ro- deo events with nn ncM insight into the lives of Ihe competi- tors. The text is not unlike that of Sam Savitt's 1963 book on the sport Rodeo, Cowboys, Bulls and Broncos. Books in brief "Interpreters of I. u t h e r: Essays in Honor of Wilhclm Pauck" edilecl by Jaroslav 1'elikan (Fortress Press, 371 pages, A student of Luther. Wilhclm Pauck must have been pleased by this collection of essays in his honor. There are 13 of them. Some of the essays say little about Luther in comparison lo what is said of the interpreter. This is so in the case of Robert Barnes. English contemporary of Luther; Joseph Priestley, 18th century American Uni- tarian; N. F. S. Grundtvig, 19th century Dane. Perhaps because, they arc belter known, such in- terpreters as Calvin, Kierke- gaard, Hal-nark, Trocl'.sch ami Tillich dirt not need so much introduction and their1 insights into Luihcr could be given more attention. An interesting essay by Karl Iloll gives Lu- ther's interpretation of himself as culled from his writings. The scholarly natm'o of this volume can be seen in the fact that there are M pages of foot- notes and references, The one redeeming aspect of Sclincll's book is the photo- graphy action shots, charac- ter studies, animals and girls. However, Die 16-page color sec- tion is a waste of time and space. Schnell, with a blurring effort, has completely ruined what might have proven to lie pome great shots. One assumes he was trying to instil! a feeling of action and excitement into his work. Rodeo is colorful and exciting without having to re- sort to artificial treatment such as this. A wcll-knowTi Canadian cowboys like Kenny McLean, Rog Kcslcr (only one 's' Mr. and Leo Brown find their way into (he book, in cither print or picture form. An ex-Canadian, Marly Wood, one of the all-lime great saddle bronc riders, is Ihe sub- ject of the deepest character research by the author. Wood also appears in a photo that portrays more in the way of finger action than rodeo action. (Shades of comedian Jackie Mason, ell, Mr. .Sullivan.) Schnell is frank and honest when dealing with the person- alities in the sport. But his short insights and humorous stories leave the reader futilely looking for more of the same. The sport of rodeo is beyond the of books thai skim over Ihe cowboys