CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

David Bercuson and Douglas Wertheimer.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday 1985.
241pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-385-25003-7. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Keegstra, Jim.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by E. Robson.

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

David Bercuson, history professor at the University of Calgary, and Douglas Wertheimer, editor and publisher of the Jewish Star, followed the Keegstra affair from the start and have now published a book examining the complex events leading up to the trial. James Keegstra was the Alberta teacher found guilty of violating Canada's anti-hate statute by teaching that a Jewish conspiracy was attempting to take over the world. This book examines Keegstra's background and how he came to believe what he does, as well as the circumstances that allowed him to teach his theory as fact for over a decade. The authors, backed by interviews and extensive research, are rigorous in their attempt to present an unemotional examination of a system, and a person who betrayed the trust given to him as a teacher. Bercuson and Wertheimer point out that this affair could happen anywhere, that complacency runs the educational system, especially where there are no regular evaluations or curriculum guidelines are not followed. Even the teacher's association, the media, the religious leaders, and politicians were slow or reluctant to react.

In their attempt to analyse the affair without condemning anyone, the excitement generated by the media over the seventy-day trial is eliminated. Little coverage is given to the twenty-three student testimonies, but the authors did examine the difficulties of the Alberta Jewish community in responding to the problem. Bercuson and Wertheimer have fulfilled their purpose without any visible bias. An appendix of pertinent letters, documents, and a sample student essay has been included. Pages of footnotes confirm the extensive research, but good organization and a detailed index permit easy access to the book. This survey of the Keegstra trial could be used by senior law classes or in a study of anti-semitism in Canada. Anyone involved in teaching or administrating an education system anywhere should read this fascinating study.

E. Robson, Churchill C.l., Scarborough, ON.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works