Musings of a Canadian Slacker

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
On Pierre Berton.

Pierre Berton was a writer whose work helped to define what we think about our nation and its past. 'Professional' historians often deride his work as too accessible and not properly sourced. But, for all that, far more Canadians have bought and read his work than will have ever even heard the names of those Ph.D bearing scoffers. As a person who has spent some time studying history, I am of two minds about Berton: I would have liked him to have spent more time sourcing his material. On the other hand, I loved several of his books, particular favorites being the War of 1812/ Flames across the Border series, and I like how they draw people into the 'story' of this country. The very best historians would be those who could combine Berton's skill for narrative with a professional ability to deal with sources and the other detail work of history. Pierre Berton produced some 47 books over his 84 years, and died today at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.

Hat tip: Damian.