Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer Book List 3: Taxation. And the apocalypse.

Okay, so the other week I took E.A. Heaman's Tax, Order and Good Government, a recently-published 500 page study of Canadian tax policy in the first fifty years of confederation, as my beach reading. "Not just Canadian history. Canadian tax history!," Heaman claims her husband like to say to dinner parties about her chosen field. My reading choice did get some similar mockery at the beach, and indeed I have not yet finished it, though mostly because I find myself stopping to chew on its arguments on almost every page.

But this week UBC Press, sent me its companion volume, Shirley Tillotson's soon-to-be-published other shoe: Give and Take, on Canadian tax policy in the second fifty years of confederation. I have not started that one, but already I'm convinced that Heaman's sub-title justly proclaims what these two volumes offer. TOGG is subtitled "A New Political History of Canada."  And it might even drop the "political," though it is indeed political to the core.

Hence the excitement. A big long, serious, challenging new way to conceive of the history of the country seems to me something anyone seriously interested in the field should be willing to take to the beach. Even if your copy comes back like mine, with a delicate scent of SPF 45.

Actually, if you want more traditional cottage-reading fare, consider Emily St John Mandel's novel Station Eleven. If you need some serious-historian justification, well, it is kind of a history of the apocalypse, but fiction and a page-turner.

It starts with something like SARS returning to Toronto, except this flu is 99% lethal, goes around the world in the blink of a 767's landing lights, and kills just about all of humanity. That's the first chapter, and it just gets better from there.
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