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Arbuckle, Graeme.

Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, c1985. 179pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-920852-38-6. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Neil Payne

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

1985 is the seventy-fifth anniversary of Canada's Navy. Part of the observance of such anniversaries is inevitably the publication of a variety of books chronicling the past and celebrating the memories. These books run the full range from scholarly to popular, serious to humorous. The only one of these books that has official sanction is Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Navy. The author produced this book while working as Standards Officer at the Naval Officer's Training Centre in Esquimalt, British Columbia and the copyright is held by the Commander of Maritime Command, Canada's top sailor.

The book is written by a sailor for sailors and it is long overdue. Every seaman and wren, on joining the Navy, must learn a new language, an entire set of expected behaviours for a variety of circumstances, and a large number of ceremonies, signals, and customs. For the officer in training, it is necessary to also learn the many customs and rules of etiquette that apply in the Officer's Mess. To be caught in a breach of custom is a serious situation which may cause personal embarrassment, a round in the mess, an interview with the Divisional Officer, a charge for failure to perform one's duties, or even an international incident. So every basic training program and every leadership course spends time reviewing these principles. Unfortunately, in the past, these lessons were based on a variety of aging handouts, from many sources, some of them contradictory. This book will now become the standard that will be used in training and be the final word on disputes in the Mess.

Customs and Traditions is a physically attractive book that has two columns of print on each page and is well illustrated in black and white. There is a useful bibliography provided. Unfortunately it has a major flaw for a reference book; it has no index.

There is no doubt that this book will be warmly welcomed by all old salts, though some may disagree with the position taken on some controversial questions. Customs and Traditions of the Canadian Navy will be of interest to public libraries for its coverage of flags, medals, religious services such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals, and naval ceremonies such as the Tattoo, Retreat, and Sunset Ceremonies, as well as serving the interests of present, past and future sailors.

Neil Payne, Westbrook, Ont.
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