For any book publisher reviews are part of the business. On the whole, however, the book reviewing trade has been sliding for years. While the daily press used the revere its full-time and professional book editors, today many dailies have pitifully watered down this important arts feature.
Book editors/reviewers are more than ever inclined towards fiction, so that makes it harder than ever to get any Canadian history book noticed. Right off the top, Canadian dailies are almost guaranteed these days to ignore anything to do with an aviation book. Apparently, this is drab, démodé stuff. But give them something in the line of fiction — some easy reading, nothing to tax the brain — then you might catch their eye. Or maybe a nice shallow cook book or some Hollywood starlet’s latest sexercise book, or something really intellectual, maybe about ultimate fighting or hockey violence. Above all, give them something out of New York vs any hopeless Canadian effort, right! This said, there always will be serious reviewers seriously reading serious books. The smaller Canadian dailies and weeklies seem to attract this sharper type of book critics. These fine citizens are rarely arrogant the way our “supporters” in the mainstream press tend to be.
CANAV has had a few hundred solid reviews over 30 years, and only the one dud, that from Aeroplane Monthly by some poor sod who does not appear to have done any serious history or arts studies.
Many fine comments have already reached CANAV about Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overs 1939-1945. On the whole people are getting the big picture — this is a good book. Roger Lindsay in the UK submits the comments below — his first impressions. Roger knows a bit about books, having toiled at serious research and writing for decades. His publications about such aircraft as the Javelin, Lightning and Venom are classics. His latest — Cold War Shield — is simply magnificent. Here is Roger’s take on Bombing and Coastal Operations:
Hi Larry … your new “Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas” arrived today by post. I’ve spent the best part of a day drooling over the photos and absorbing the personal recollections covering so many of your courageous countrymen who served in the RCAF. The book is magnificent and already a total joy, a stellar production. As usual I’m in awe at the detail, the exceptionally high standards of layout, design and printing, and can only imagine the effort expended in putting it together.
I feel that we Brits owe a huge debt to the thousands of Canadians who came across to our side in the last war, not least those who served in Bomber Command at such great sacrifice. Your book brings that terrific contribution into focus with more impact than many other publications.
I’m also greatly enjoying your Coastal Command coverage, which never receives the publicity it warrants. You’ve found some super photographs, almost entirely new to me, and I suspect most readers.
Finally, I must congratulate CANAV Books on achieving 30 years of fabulous top quality publishing, in spite of all the problems. I hope the book sells in truck-loads and brings in a small fortune!
What great stuff, Roger. This worn-out old publisher is grateful.
Another note comes from Ron Butcher, who served his tour on Lancasters with 408 Squadron. I cover a bit about his crew on pp 133-34. Ron requests an amendment ref. p.133. In the centre column he has asked that I add how his crew completed two operations on D-Day. Then, he correctly raps my knuckles for saying that his crew completed their tour February 20, when the date should be June 11. Somehow the odd such gaff creeps into every such book, to say nothing of ordinary typos which always evade the proof readers. We spot them in the highest quality books and everyone understands how those nasty little cockroaches creep in. Ron notes some of these, which I’ll add to the errata list and send to my readers at the next mailing. I’ve asked Ron to join my cadre of intrepid proof readers. One can never have too many eyes checking manuscript and galleys.