May 15, 2010

Canada's Game by Andrew C. Holman

I finally got a chance to read through editor Andrew C. Holman's compilation of essays in the book Canada's Game: Hockey and Identity .

Buy The Book: - Chapters -

The work is a very eclectic collection of academic offerings that, as the subtitle suggests, looks at for the elusive definition of Canadian identity through the game of hockey.

Ten wide-ranging subjects are broached - from the impact of the 1972 Summit Series to hockey in literature to violence on the ice to the commercialization of the game - but with no real tying theme. You can take what you want from each topic - some more than others - but in the end you may not find a satisfactory, all-encompassing conclusion.

Part of that problem might be due to a lack of an academic background when it comes to hockey. Holman even points it out in his introduction, spending lots of time applauding the first real academic hockey literature offering - Richard Gruneau and David Whitson's Hockey Night In Canada from 1993. That was a truly ground breaking book that has encouraged a few new titles over the years. The problem is those subsequent texts - Holman's included - are all of higher value if you - like the authors - have the same background offered by Gruneau and Whitson.

In other words, invest in Gruneau and Whitson's Hockey Night in Canada first. Then you will be better able to find the valuable gems hidden inside Holman's Canada's Game: Hockey and Identity.

That's not to say Holman's text is not a good stand-alone book. Anytime our obsession with the game is placed under a microscope is always a good thing. And it is a lot easier to read than Gruneau and Whitson's; the writers obviously took that into consideration. It's not as overly academic that us average hockey fans can read it chapter by chapter.


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