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Biography & Autobiography Editors, Journalists, Publishers

The Perilous Trade

Book Publishing in Canada, 1946-2006

by (author) Roy MacSkimming

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Jan 2007
Category
Editors, Journalists, Publishers, Publishing, Media & Communications Industries
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780771054945
    Publish Date
    Jan 2007
    List Price
    $30.00

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Description

A book that will fascinate and inform readers who love Canadian writing
Publishing Canadian books has always been an experiment. Like the great experiments of building a transcontinental railway and a national broadcasting system, it constitutes one of the nation’s defining acts. Publishing, after all, is a people’s way of telling its story to itself.
–from the Introduction

Part cultural history, part personal memoir, this accomplished, sweeping, yet intimate book demonstrates that the story of Canadian publishing is one of the cornerstones of our literary history.

In The Perilous Trade, former publisher, literary journalist, and industry insider Roy MacSkimming chronicles the extraordinary journey of English-language publishing from the Second World War to the present. During a period of unparalleled transformation, Canada grew from a cultural colony fed on the literary offerings of London and New York to a mature nation whose writers are celebrated around the world. Crucial to that evolution were three generations of book publishers – mavericks, gamblers, entrepreneurs, political activists, and true believers – sharing a conviction that Canadians need books of their own.

Canadian publishing has long made headlines -be it Jack McClelland’s outrageous publicity stunts, American takeovers, the collapse of venerable imprints, or bold political moves to ensure the industry’s survival. Roy MacSkimming takes us behind the headlines to draw memorable portraits of the men and women who built Canada’s literary renaissance. With a novelist’s eye for character and incident, he weaves their tangled relationships with authors, agents, booksellers and each other into a lively narrative rich in anecdote and revealing personal recollection. Canadian publishers large and small have nurtured a literature of extraordinary diversity and breadth, MacSkimming argues, giving us English Canada’s greatest cultural achievement.

About the author

Roy MacSkimming is a sometime defenseman (shoots left), hockey dad and lifelong fan. In addition to two hockey books, Gordie: A Hockey Legend and Cold War: The Amazing Canada-Soviet Hockey Series of 1972, both published by Greystone, he has written four novels, including Macdonald and Laurier in Love, as well as The Perilous Trade: Publishing Canada's Writers. His website is www.roymacskimming.com .

He lives in Perth, Ontario.

Roy MacSkimming's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Masterful.…This book should be compulsory reading for anyone entering the book trade, toiling in it now or in an occupation, such as politics, constantly brushing against the business.… The Perilous Trade unobtrusively, quite fetchingly, conveys a massive amount of research, yet also manages to be a brilliantly seductive cultural history of Canada.”
–Greg Gatenby, The Globe and Mail
"[MacSkimming] has given us a history driven by an engaging narrative and a cast of remarkable characters."
–Christopher Moore, The Beaver
“A truly marvellous book for all those interested in Canadian authors and publishers and the books they create.”
— Mel Hurtig

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