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May, Elizabeth
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1990. 320pp, cloth, $27.95, ISBN 0-7710-5772-5. CIP


Reviewed by Peter Croskery

Volume 18 Number 5
1990 September

Paradise Won is the story of South Moresby. It's the story of a local conflict that evolved into a national controversy. Paradise Won is a lesson in how concerned citizens can make a difference.

On July 11,1987, South Moresby, on the south end of the Queen Charlotte Islands, became a national park. It was the culmination of a fourteen-year "battle" to set aside a unique Canadian habitat, rich in unusual plant and animal species and steeped in Haida history and culture. South Moresby will stand in Canadian political history as a pilot case in which local economics were pitted against the national commitment to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.

Elizabeth May, herself a dedicated environmentalist, has presented the South Moresby "battle" in a well-written "story-line" format. Factual information is interwoven as the story develops. Through the pages of Paradise Won she portrays the core individuals involved in a sensitive fashion, identifying their personalities, sacrifices and commitment to the South Moresby cause. Because of her empathy with their position, they are very positively treated. Although she attempts to review the pro-logging side of the issue, it receives less attention.

As the story-line develops through the first third of the book, it makes fascinating reading, in part because of the author's writing skill. The last third of the book, which deals mainly with the politicking scene as seen from the author's Ottawa office, is less exciting. From a resource management standpoint, the interplay between federal and provincial bureaucracies is interesting and reinforces the frustration members of the public often have when dealing with government.

A disappointment of the book might be the lack of good quality colour photographs. Since most Canadians have heard of South Moresby but few have been there, a visual component would have helped readers appreciate the significance of this unique Canadian treasure. The few black-and-white pictures contained in the book are snapshots of the "players" and add little to the content. Paradise Won is an excellent read and is highly recommended. It's the record of a true Canadian success story.

Peter Croskery, Virgil, Ont.

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