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McNeil, Bill.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1984. 268pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-98084.CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by David Chadwick

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Bill McNeil, host of the CBC radio program "Voice of the Pioneer" since 1969, has published his second collection of interviews from the show. Like the previous 1978 collection, they are short three to five page reminiscences by men and women of their youth fifty years or more back.

Like many oral history collections, its chief value lies in its depiction of life and social conditions for ordinary people during the settlement of various regions of the country in the first two decades of the century. The interviews are not dated, nor is any attempt made to place them in some sort of context. It is unfortunate that the sheer number of interviews included (sixty-two) has forced some to be cut so short that their point seems lost.

That said, many of the interviews are of interest to a wider audience than the show. The hardships that are chronicled are, to modern sensibilities, amazing. If the book can be said to have a theme, it could be that the perseverance and fortitude of our ancestors is worthy of note and emulation.

Suitable for all public libraries, but schools might want to wait for the paperback edition which would likely see more use by impulse readers.

David Chadwick, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Man.
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