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Cook, Ramsay.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1985. 291pp, paper, ISBN 0-8020-5670-9 (cloth) $32.50, 0-8020-6609-7 (paper) $15.95. CIP

Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 14 Number 4
1986 July

The late nineteenth century was a period in which many social movements made their first appearance. This book concentrates upon the anti-establishment convictions of Canadian protestants of the period. The most significant of these could be loosely described as Christian Socialism, particularly in the sense that the need is seen for society to care for its less fortunate members. However, dissatisfaction with the establishment took a variety of forms, from the bizarre to the mundane. The book comprises a series of vignettes, or mini-biographies, describing the backgrounds and philosophies of numerous social critics. Their beliefs are seen as being deeply felt and energetically expressed, and they themselves emerge as people of substance, rather ihan dilettantes.

Professor Cook has aimed his book at the university student and, more particularly, the social historian. While The Regenerators can be read with pleasure by anyone interested in the period, a full appreciation requires prior knowledge of the period and its social order. The book has many strengths. In the first place, it conveys the sense that people thought seriously about social issues and cared for the principles involved rather than for their own self-interest. While moving on from character to character, it still succeeds in maintaining a flow, so that, by the end of the book, the reader has a sense of what the future will hold for the next generation. What is equally important is that the author has imbued his work with his own enthusiasm for the subject,

There are some forty pages of reference notes and a very fine index. There is also a good selection of photographs and cartoon that are very helpful to the reader's understanding of the times. This book will surely find a place as a set text for appropriate university courses as well as on the bookshelves of those readers interested in this fascinating, yet often neglected period of Canadian history.

John D. Crawford, Frank Hobbs School, Victoria, B.C.
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