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Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1987. 128pp, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-7710-6521-3.CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Neil V. Payne

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

Aislin is well known to all literate Canadians. Some may not recognize the name, but everyone can recognize his work. The award-winning political cartoonist for the Montreal Gazette has had his cartoons published frequently in every newspaper in Canada. His cartoons don't look like anybody else's-they are heavy, dark and oppressive.

Aislin's style of political commentary closely resembles his drawing style. It could fairly be described as never using a rapier when a bludgeon (or better yet, a chain saw) is readily at hand. His mission in life is to afflict the comfortable, puncture the inflated, and ridicule the mighty. In this mission, he has been wonderfully successful. Canadians from coast to coast take great delight in his cartoons that harpoon the egos of our political leaders. His latest broadside is probably clipped by thousands to share with co-workers at coffee break or to pin on the company notice board. He speaks for the anger of the ordinary Canadian with an eloquence that a House of Commons full of honourable Opposition members could never hope to match.

Old Whores is Aislin's eighteenth book of cartoons. It contains comment on the 1984-1987 period and is dedicated to the Conservative federal government in general and to Brian Mulroney (whom Aislin invariably calls Muldoon) in particular. No doubt, they would have preferred lo pass on the honour.

The book is a delight to sit with. Many of the cartoons are familiar on sight, like old friends. Memories of the smell of rancid tuna, of the overflowing Tory pork barrel, of Mulroney 'getting tough' with his buddy Ronnie and much more all come flooding back. All of the good times provided by Prime Minister Mulroney and his friends are here.

While it may not be a scholarly historical treatise on the period, Old Whores probably captures the essence of the day better than any text ever will. And I suspect that a history class that started with Aislin would result in more interest, more reading of the texts, and more understanding on the part of students than would otherwise be the case.

Highly recommended for purchase by both academic and public libraries.

Neil V. Payne, Kingston Collegiate V.I., Kingston, Ont.
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