The U.S. and Canada

Reviews of books about America's relationship with its northern neighbor.

Bean, Lydia. The politics of Evangelical identity: local churches and partisan divides in the United States and Canada. Princeton, 2014. 316p bibl index afp ISBN 9780691161303, $35.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE February 2015

Bean (Baylor Univ.) provides an interesting comparative study of Evangelical churches and their involvement in politics in the US and Canada. In the process, she shows how Evangelicalism in the US has become politicized in recent years. In this compelling ethnography, Bean finds that Canadian Evangelical churches are similar to their counterparts in the US in beliefs and moral values but that they allow for a much wider range of political opinion and party affiliation. She argues that in the US, religious identity has become so closely intertwined with partisan politics that it is often difficult, if not impossible, for Evangelicals to identity with the Democratic Party. Bean, a sociologist, does not draw a straight line between Evangelical leadership and such political partisanship in the US. In fact, she finds, it is not so much the clergy that drive such identification with Republicans as lay leaders in congregations that send “partisan cues” to fellow members. Bean ably shows how these congregation leaders and other members engage in “partisan coalition-building” with small-government conservative groups, creating a distinct religious-political identity. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. —R. P. Cimino, University of Richmond

Bothwell, Robert. Your country, my country: a unified history of the United States and Canada. Oxford, 2015. 420p index afp ISBN 9780195448801, $34.95; ISBN 9780190279660 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE April 2016

A blurb on the dust jacket observes that many Americans view Canada as the land of hockey, terrible weather, unfailing politeness, and little else. For Canadians, the US is a land of unparalleled opportunity and failure, a country of heights and abysses. To counter this, the author has subtitled his book “a unified history of the United States and Canada.” (The introduction is one of the most useful this reviewer has ever noted in a history text.) Bothwell (Canadian history, Univ. of Toronto) takes events from both countries to show how they are intertwined in more ways than one. For instance, the proclamation of the Dominion of Canada, drawn from lands previously called British North America, came in 1867, shortly after the end of the US Civil War in 1865 and the final abolition of slavery. In the 1930s and 1940s, a vertical alignment between Ottawa and Washington was crafted by Franklin Roosevelt and Mackenzie King that diluted the well-worn horizontal relationship between Ottawa and London, to the chagrin of Winston Churchill. Bothwell writes of these two nations always clearly and sometimes with wry humor; he is a pleasure to read. Good reading for scholars and general readers alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. —S. A. Syme, Coastal Carolina University

Clarkson, Stephen. Dependent America?: how Canada and Mexico construct US power, by Stephen Clarkson and Matto Mildenberger. Toronto, 2011. 366p ISBN 9781442644632, $75.00; ISBN 9781442612778 pbk, $34.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2012

This excellent book makes an important contribution to the literatures on regionalism in the Americas and the nature of US power in the era of globalization. It is the final volume of a trilogy that began with Uncle Sam and Us (CH, May’03, 40-5462) and was followed by Does North America Exist? (2008). The US may be a declining global hegemon, but this book shows how powerful it is in its immediate neighborhood. Clarkson (Univ. of Toronto, Canada) and Mildenberger (PhD student, Yale Univ.) persuasively show that Canada and Mexico play a key role in “constructing” US global power. The first two parts of the book explain how the US benefits from its relationship with Canada and Mexico in the areas of economic and security issues. Part 3 examines the ability of Canada and Mexico to constrain US power. The epilogue (“The Disunited States of North America”) examines two alternative scenarios: regional disintegration (with the US becoming a “Lone Ranger vigilante”) or repairing the region with a farsighted vision involving real power sharing among the US and its junior partners in NAFTA. A useful addition to Maxwell Cameron and Brian Tomlin, The Making of NAFTA (CH, Feb’01, 38-3423). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. —M. E. Carranza, Texas A&M University—Kingsville

Constitutional politics in Canada and the United States, ed. by Stephen L. Newman. State University of New York, 2004. 282p ISBN 0791459373, $55.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE September 2004

A mixture of seasoned and relatively young constitutional scholars located mostly in Canada present an interesting set of essays comparing Canadian and American constitutional law, courts, and systems. The constitutional change embodied in the Canada Act of 1982, which saw Canada’s constitution finally brought home (patriated, as the concept is called) and a new Charter of Rights and Freedoms embodied in it have led Canadian scholars to become obsessed with what has come to be known as the “rights revolution,” by which they mean that the courts have become a key arbiter if not driver of limits on government and personal and political rights in Canada. These essays explore what these and related changes are coming to mean in Canada and, at the same time, compare competing notions of constitutional identity, shared strategies of constitutional interpretation, judicial review, and amendment procedures in Canada and the US. These kinds of comparisons have been relatively neglected in academic analysis, and these essays are valuable in exploring areas of similarity and difference between the two countries. The volume will interest constitutional scholars and lawyers in Canada and the US, students of comparative politics, and Canadianists. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. —P. Regenstreif, University of Rochester

Farney, James. Social conservatives and party politics in Canada and the United States. Toronto, 2012. 168p ISBN 9781442644311, $60.00; ISBN 9781442612600, pbk $27.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE January 2013

Recent times have been fruitful for the production of literature exemplary of conservative thought; this is one of a few recent works that takes conservatism seriously as a subject for scholarly study and analysis (see also, Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind, CH, Apr’12, 49-4729). Farney (Univ. of Regina, Canada) undertakes a comparative analysis of the movement of social conservatives into active party politics in the US and Canada since the 1960s. His work is notable for both its detailed description of the development of a social-conservative influence in politics in both countries, and its grounding—implicit and explicit—in frameworks emphasizing ideological analysis, comparative political culture, and insight informed by the new institutionalism. Farney is particularly strong in his articulation of the distinction among three branches of conservatism, and in tracing the different cultural and structural challenges confronting social conservatives breaking into political party institutions traditionally dominated by traditionalist and laissez-faire varieties of conservatism. Different understandings of party discipline, the predominance of legislative politics, and different cultural understandings around the political nature of the personal account for the later and less profound impact of social conservatives in Canada than in the US. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduate students, and graduate students. —S. P. Duffy, Quinnipiac University

Hale, Geoffrey. So near yet so far: the public and hidden worlds of Canada-US relations. UBC Press, 2012. 425p ISBN 9780774820417, $99.00.
Reviewed in CHOICE February 2013

Hale (University of Lethbridge, Canada) is an expert on Canada-US relations. His book is a useful commentary on the history of the bilateral relationship, and an often insightful analysis of recent and current issues. The first part treats the three dimensions of US-Canada relations: political/strategic, trade and commerce, and psychological-cultural. In both political and economic areas, the relations are asymmetrical; in the cultural area, anti-Americanism developed in reaction to the US invasion of Iraq. The value of the special relationship has declined, and for most Americans, Canada is an afterthought. The second part considers Canadian management of relations, including “network diplomacy,” relations with Congress, public diplomacy, and lobbying (Canada is the fourth most active foreign government). Making relations easier are increased contacts of Canadian provinces with US states and multi-level governance; complicating relations are different election cycles and demographic changes in the US, raising Mexico and lowering Canada in public view. The final part examines policy issues, for example, immigration, border security, the bovine spongiform encephalopathy disease case, softwood lumber imports, and energy/environmental issues. Hale describes resolution through multi-level games involving cooperation, harmonization, and coordination. Overall, an informative study of an important relationship. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above. —G. A. McBeath, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Harles, John C. Seeking equality: the political economy of the common good in the United States and Canada. Toronto, 2017. 280p bibl index ISBN 9781442634299, $85.00; ISBN 9781442634299 pbk, $34.95; ISBN 9781442634312 ebook, $27.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2018

Observant readers and social scientists have been aware of growing inequality for decades. Wealth inequality, though obvious, important, and reaching levels unseen since 1929, is only part of the equation; it exacerbates unequal opportunity, mobility, social status, educational opportunity and attainment, and racial divisions between economic deciles in modern states. Harles (Messiah College) acknowledges “the moral imperatives of political economy.” Through a careful and judicious comparison of welfare policy broadly understood and concepts of the common good in Canada and the United States, Harles examines inequality’s danger to individual capabilities, individual and public health, cultural unity, justice, and political stability. He illuminates how increasing concentrations of economic, political, and cultural power in fewer and fewer hands threaten democracy, social and cultural comity, and economic growth and progress. Shockingly, the American mobility story no longer holds. The United States is one of the most unequal members of the OECD. Canada, more accepting of collective well-being than the United States, ensures better public policy in terms of healthcare, mobility, opportunity, and education for the bottom 40 percent than does the United States, though Canada lags other industrialized democracies. The numerous tables reward careful examination. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —C. P. Waligorski, emeritus, University of Arkansas

The Invasion of Canada by the Americans, 1775–1776: as told through Jean-Baptiste Badeaux’s Three Rivers journal and New York Captain William Goforth’s letters, ed. by Mark R. Anderson; tr. by Teresa L. Meadows. SUNY Press, 2016. 205p bibl index afp ISBN 9781438460031, $80.00; ISBN 9781438460055 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE December 2016

In this editorial triumph, independent historian Anderson gives readers two sometimes contrasting but usually complementary accounts of the failed American attempt to “liberate” Canada. Notary Badeaux, in Trois-Rivières, recorded in his journal what he learned about the invaders and their movements; Captain Goforth, from New York, shared his campaign experiences in letters to his correspondents. Notary and captain agree that the invasion, as scholars know, was poorly executed and woefully underfunded. This work’s true value rests in the editor’s footnotes. Anderson is very sensitive to historical nuances and explains terms such as Canadiens, Bostonnais, and congréganistes. More people fly in and out of the central texts than pigeons in the park, and Anderson identifies them all. Maps, portraits of principals, and period illustrations enrich works of this genre, and Anderson provides all of these. He gives translator Meadows (French and visual and performing arts, Univ. of Colorado, Colorado Springs) the credit she deserves. She enables Badeaux’s journal to speak across a linguistic gulf more than two centuries wide and even manages to convey the Canadiens’ characteristic joie de vivre. The work might be tough reading for those not familiar with the 1775 invasion, but even they will profit from Anderson’s study. Summing Up: Essential. Most levels/libraries. —J. S. Krysiek, Gettysburg College

Transnationalism: Canada-United States history into the twenty-first century, ed. by Michael D. Behiels and Reginald C. Stuart. McGill-Queen’s, 2010. 308p ISBN 9780773537620, $95.00; ISBN 9780773537637 pbk, $29.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE August 2011

Although these conference papers were presented seven years ago at a 2004 conference for the Organization for the History of Canada (which has since folded), the papers are in many cases worth the wait. The volume’s aim professes to be transnationalism, and the cover shows an eraser eliminating the Canada-US border, presumably to indicate that many ideas, themes, and attitudes transcend the border. Many of the essays, however, indicate how the Canadian government resisted US efforts to extend its sway northward, focusing, for example, on Mackenzie King’s concern for Canadian sovereignty or Canada’s questioning of the US desire to station nuclear weapons in Canada. That said, Canadian and US missionaries abroad did not play national games, serving the Lord presumably being more important. One quote, found in Stephen Randall’s rumination on the US approach to Canada, justifies buying the book. Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of defense, John Hamre, told a Calgary audience that the US wanted Canada to do more on defense, arguing that soft power was nonsense without boots on the ground. Then he said, “We are the only country in the world that wants a stronger military power on its border.” One hopes the audience laughed, perhaps a little guiltily. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. —J. L. Granatstein, Canadian War Museum

Water without borders?: Canada, the United States and shared waters, ed. by Emma S. Norman, Alice Cohen, and Karen Bakker. Toronto, 2013. 275p ISBN 9781442643932, $70.00; ISBN 9781442612372 pbk, $32.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE August 2014

This balanced collection of essays commemorates 100 years of formal cooperation between Canada and the US in the management of shared waterways. The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 set up the International Joint Commission (IJC), which has been used effectively as a cross-border dispute settlement mechanism in 120 cases. The essays, written by lawyers, academics, engineers, and other professionals with expertise in public policy, hydrology, and environmental issues, cover the complicated issues associated with reconciling natural borders with political ones. Many delve deeply into particular cross-border basins and waterways like the Great Lakes, the Columbia River, and the Red River. While the treaty and the IJC have worked well for so long, disputes are increasingly being dealt with outside their ambit, and new issues and actors increasingly render the IJC inadequate to the task. Students, researchers, and other professionals with an interest in Canada-US relations, water management, environmental issues, aboriginal concerns, and climate change will find these essays relevant. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. —T. M. Bateman, St. Thomas University