Seeing Reds: The Red Scare of 1918-1919, Canada's First War on Terror

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  • Prix régulier $27.95
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    Daniel Francis

    Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

    Year: 2010

    Format: Hardcover

    Size: 280 pages

    ISBN: 9781551523736

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At the end of World War I, Canada was poised on the brink of social revolution. At least that is what many Canadians, inspired by the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, hoped and others dreaded. Seeing Reds tells the story of this turbulent period in Canadian history during the winter of 1918–19, when a fearful government led by Prime Minister Robert Borden tried to suppress radical political activity by branding legitimate labour leaders as "Bolsheviks" and "Reds." Canada was in the grip of a widespread Red Scare promoted by the government and the media in order to discredit radical ideas and to rally public support behind mainstream political and economic policies. The story builds toward the events of the Winnipeg General Strike in May–June 1919 when the authorities, believing that the expected revolution had begun, sent soldiers into the streets to put down with force a legitimate labour dispute.

Author Daniel Francis examines Canada's Red Scare in a global context, including government responses to similar activities in the United States and western Europe, as well as its ramifications for the contemporary war on terror, in which issues of free speech and political dissent are similarly compromised in the name of national security. Based on government documents and first-hand accounts by the participants themselves, Seeing Reds is a gripping account of a little known episode in Canadian history.

What People Are Saying

"Seeing Reds is an entertaining, thoughtful, and disturbing book. Well-researched and written with style, it will inform and alarm readers. Daniel Francis brings together the skills of the historian with those of the storyteller to deliver a cautionary tale that is as much about the present as the past." Mark Leier, director of Centre for Labour Studies, Simon Fraser University and author of Bakunin: The Creative Passion

"Francis presents a vivid picture of sharp class and political struggles across Canada during the early 20th century … The details make for compelling reading." People's Voice

"Canada's greatest myth-buster has done it again, with this trenchant account of how, following World War I, immigrants to Canada suddenly found themselves branded "enemy aliens" and the focus of a nasty wave of anti-socialist paranoia. Put it on your shelf next to Francis's classics National Dreams and The Imaginary Indian." The Tyee

"An astonishing book … Fans of other great exposés of government repression—such as Victor S. Navasky’s Naming Names and D. D. Guttenplan’s American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone—will feast on Francis’s eye for detail … It’s a valuable book for anyone who wants to understand the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, the red scare of the 1940s and 1950s, and recent media frenzies against Muslims in Canada." The Georgia Straight

"The Winnipeg General Strike took place more than 90 years ago, but it resonates still – as in historian Daniel Francis’s new book … A well-told tale." The Globe and Mail

"Francis paints a fascinating picture of the rise of political activism on the one hand, and the federal government’s strong actions to suppress it on the other … Seeing Reds is a quiet reminder that the events of the present are usually shadowed by what’s come before." Critics at Large

"We need more books like this — histories of social change in Canadian contexts written for lay audiences and with an eye to contemporary relevance. Smooth, lively writing and a good eye for the right level of detail." A Canadian Lefty on Occupied Land

"Seeing Reds is not only a solidly researched review of a neglected corner of our past but a gripping—and cautionary—tale." BC Bookworld

"Francis sets out a clear account of the Winnipeg General Strike, placing it in the context of simmering economic and immigrant tensions … [His] wrap-up is breathtaking, linking events such as the wartime internment of Japanese-Canadians, Cold War fears of espionage, FLQ bombing campaigns, and today’s anti-terrorism efforts." Canada's History

"The literature of the Winnipeg General Strike and related events is quite extensive … Perhaps the most important (and certainly the best written) is Seeing Reds." George Fetherling, Diplomat and International Canada

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