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Souster, Raymond.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984. 154pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-533-3 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-534-1 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Alfred F. Greenwood

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Raymond Souster, who has been called one of Canada's greatest living poets, has received, along with other literary accolades, the Governor General's Award in 1964 and the Centennial Medal in 1967. Among his impressive literary output is From Hell to Breakfast: My War Years in The R.C.A.F., by Douglas Alcorn, DFC, with Raymond Souster (Intruder Press, 1980). Souster joined the RCAF in 1941.

Jubliee of Death, written in blank verse, is the story of Dieppe, told in the first-person by twenty-seven participants, both upper-echelon planners and those taking part in the action. Among the narrators are: Prime Minister Churchill, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Lt.-Col. Charles Cecil Merritt, Brig. Churchill Menn, and Private Jean Cote of Les Fusiliers de Mont Royal.

The author's use of blank verse lends a stark reality, an immediacy, to the battle. Each narrator applies skilful brush strokes to an immense and tumultuous canvas. Flt.-Sgt. Jack Nissenthal, an RAF radar specialist whose task it was to examine a German radar station, narrates:

I was allowed to pick nearly all the men who'd accompany me (who I also knew would get strict orders to shoot me rather than let me fall into Jerry's hands), fair enough, let the condemned man choose his own firing squad.

Highly recommended as much as an historical narrative as for imagery of extraordinary intensity.

Alfred F. Greenwood, Victoria, B.C.
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