George Grant: A Guide to His Thought

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Hugh Donald Forbes, George Grant: A Guide to His Thought (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), xii + 301pp. Cased. £40. ISBN 978-0-8020-4318-4. Paper. £18. ISBN 978-0-8020-8142-1.

Hugh Donald Forbes's declared aim in this book is 'to assist the reader of Grant's works, not to provide an executive (or sophomore) summary of their contents. I have tried to get beneath the simplifying labels, keeping in mind the general reader, not the academic specialist' (p. 227). The limitation of Forbes's work is that he refrains from offering an elaboration or critical analysis of Grant's thought.

All students of Canadian politics or history will be familiar at least with Grant's Lament for a Nation, his 1965 work suggesting that the 1963 election defeat of the Diefenbaker government over its differences with the USA over whether Canadian-based Bomarc missiles should be armed with conventional or nuclear-tipped warheads marked the point at which the end of Canadian independence as a distinct political community became inevitable. Lament for a Nation made Grant a hero to Canadian nationalists, many of whom were on the left, with its critique of US liberal individualist society and the technology that was spreading its values around the world.

The conservative character of Grant's work was sometimes overlooked. Some of his admirers for Lament for a Nation were confused by his critique of liberalism and abortion on demand in his English-Speaking Justice, and by his emphasis on the ancient classics of Plato, Aristotle and Zenophon, and on the Christian religious tradition. For those who have read only one of Grant's books, Forbes situates his more popular works within the Grant corpus. …