If you haven’t been able to tell by the way I pronounce the word “about,” I should probably let you know that I’m from Canada. And I have to make a confession––growing up in Vancouver, I was fed the line that Canadian history was dull, that it lacked drama (i.e. no revolutionary war against England), and so my historical attention was always drawn to the US. It wasn’t until I was deep into college that I began to think otherwise. And, as a result, I know far too little about my country’s history.
’s superb new book, Canada and the World since 1867
(Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2019), is a strong rebuttal to the Canadian-history-is-boring thesis. Surveying the history of Canada’s relations with the rest of the world, the book tracks Canada long decolonization from Britain, its ugly campaign against First Nations communities to take territory and move settlers westward, and how it dealt with having a superpower for a neighbour. The book should not be read, however, just by Canadians or Canadian historians, however. In examining the history of a medium-sized state’s foreign policy, McKercher’s book helps us understand how the international system itself works.
Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DexterFergie.