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Thomas Flanagan.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, c1983.
177pp, paper, $19.95 (cloth), $12.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88833-108-8 (cloth), 0-88833-110-X (paper).

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by R. G. Rennie.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

The author began his interest in Louis Riel, he says, around 1971, and this' interest resulted in a book Louis "David" Riel: Prophet of the New World.* He was asked to edit all material about Riel, and this lead to his feeling that he should give his conclusions about the controversial aspects of Riel, prior to the centennial of his death. He is determined not to let the past be subverted to the present; that no matter what conclusions we may be willing to draw today about Riel and his resistance, the whole matter was viewed differently by all sides a hundred years ago.

The author has presented his material under the main, contentious headings of 1) "The Northwest Rebellion," 2) "River Lots and Land Claims," 3) "The Half-Breed Land Grant," 4) "Aboriginal Title," 5) "Riel's Personal Indemnity," 6) "Riel's Trial," 7) "The Medical Commission," and 8) "A Posthumous Pardon?" The author has a crisp, clear style and is obviously well-acquainted with the various views of Riel and what he symbolized and symbolizes.

Flanagan tries to present a balanced view, e.g., while Riel might well have been judged today not guilty by reason of insanity, he was certainly within the then definition of sanity; while the central government was settling the complaints of the settlers and the Métis very fairly, Macdonald was not about to admit that there were any complaints. The author concludes that the trial was fair, but Riel's punishment was harsh, considering that none of the hundreds of others involved in the 1885 Rebellion spent more than a year in jail.

Well, of such books are historical arguments made (not settled). This is certainly a must read for any study of Riel. I congratulate the author on a well written, well researched book, but, as to agreeing with his conclusions, he himself recognizes "Le coeur a ses raisons que 1'esprit ne comprend pas." Notes and index. Highly recommended.

*Reviewed vol. VIII/1 Winter 1980 p.38.

R. G. Rennie, Daniel Mclntyre C. I., Winnipeg, MB.
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