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Graham, Howard.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1987. 304pp. cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-3390-7. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Bohdan Kinczyk

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

There is no question that Lieutenant-General Howard Graham was a great Canadian. Commander of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade in World War II, chief of the General Staff of the Canadian Army, advisor to tester B. Pearson during the Suez crisis, and president of the Toronto Stock Exchange, Graham served his country bravely and dutifully whenever it called. And it called often.

Nevertheless, good men sometimes write bad books. While Citizen and Soldier may be of historical interest, its ponderous prose, cloying humility, genteel out-moded euphemisms, musty and misremembered dialogue, and childish love affair with the exclamation point will elicit as many groans as yawns. Graham writes like an old lady. Reminiscing about Maud and Oily, a favourite team of horses, Graham recalls "a letter from Mother saying that the team had been sold to the Army's Remount Depot. From that time on, I watched every team that passed me on the roads of France, hoping we might have a reunion! But, alas, it never happened!"

Graham's heart is so large that he cannot exclude the rest of the barnyard menagerie, but must bring them along on his sentimental journey:

Cows also had a high priority. Father bought two-Betsy had just 'freshened,' i.e. borne a calf—but in this case we did not claim the calf. Betsy was a good milker and gave us all we needed. But, wisely, Father bought another cow, Nell, that was due to freshen in a month or two. So we soon had two milking cows and, fortunately, a heifer calf. Thus we had milk for the family and cream for our butter.

Pigs were essential if we were to have a supply of meat during the winter, which was six months away, and so a pair of young ones were bought and put in a pen.

. . .I could, and did, have affection for horses, cows, chickens, and their offspring, but I could never work up much love for the pigs!

Graham died in 1986 at the age of eighty-eight. A good and decent man and a genuine Canadian hero, he deserves to be remembered for his long, loyal service to his country. Unfortunately, his memoirs are so bland and stylistically awful that he is unlikely to speak to young Canadians.

Bohdan Kinczyk, Central Elgin Collegiate, St. Thomas, Ont.
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