The Handover by Elaine Dewar
How Bigwigs and Bureaucrats Transferred Canada's Best Publisher and the Best Part of Our Literary Heritage to a Foreign Multinational (Canlit Howdunit)

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Whether Bennett is proved right or not, The Handover spends too many of its 380-odd pages obsessively belabouring minutiae only policy wonks will care about.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

Until recently, McClelland and Stewart had been known as “The Canadian Publisher,” the country’s longest-lived and best independent press. Its dynamic leader Jack McClelland worked with successive provincial and federal governments to help draft policies in the 1960s and 70s which ensured that Canadian stories would, for the first time in the nation’s history, be told and published by Canadians. M&S introduced Canadians to themselves while championing the nation’s literature, bringing to the world Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Mavis Gallant, Farley Mowat, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, and many others. When 75% of M&S was gifted amidst great fanfare to the University of Toronto on Canada Day 2000―“To achieve the survival of one great Canadian institution,” M&S owner Avie Bennett declared at the time, “I have given it into the care of another great Canadian institution”―one could’ve assumed that it would remain in Canadian hands and under Canadian control in perpetuity.



But one would have been wrong.



In her controversial new book, Elaine Dewar reveals for the first time how M&S was sold salami-style to Random House, a division of German media giant Bertelsmann; how smart businessmen and even smarter lawyers danced through the raindrops of the laws put into place to protect Canadian cultural institutions from foreign ownership while cultural bureaucrats looked the other way; and why we should care. It is the story not just of the demise of the country’s best independent publisher, it is about the threats, internal and otherwise, facing Canadian culture. The Handover is more than just a CanLit How-Done-It: it is essential reading for anyone interested in the telling of Canadian stories.

 

About Elaine Dewar

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Elaine Dewar—author, journalist, television story editor—has been propelled since childhood by insatiable curiosity and the joy of storytelling. Her journalism has been honored by nine National Magazine awards, including the prestigious President’s Medal, and the White Award. Her first book, Cloak of Green, delved into the dark side of environmental politics and became an underground classic. Bones:Discovering the First Americans, an investigation of the science and politics regarding the peopling of the Americas, was a national bestseller and earned a special commendation from the Canadian Archaeological Association. The Second Tree: of Clones, Chimeras, and Quests for Immortality won Canada’s premier literary nonfiction prize from the Writers’ Trust. Dewar has been called “one of Canada’s best muckrakers and “Canada’s Rachel Carson.” She aspires to be a happy warrior for the public good.
 
Published June 13, 2017 by Biblioasis. 208 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Handover
All: 3 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 2

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Jun 06 2017

It is the detective work involved that grips the reader, and the author’s recreation of the apprehension of bureaucrats.

Read Full Review of The Handover: How Bigwigs and... | See more reviews from National Post arts

Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Nathan Whitlock on Jun 30 2017

There is a lot in The Handover for readers seeking industry gossip and those interested in Canadian cultural policy in general, but like too many books — even some of the ones bearing the venerated M & S logo — it needed a few extra drafts and some judicious trimming.

Read Full Review of The Handover: How Bigwigs and... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Roy Macskimming on Jun 09 2017

Whether Bennett is proved right or not, The Handover spends too many of its 380-odd pages obsessively belabouring minutiae only policy wonks will care about.

Read Full Review of The Handover: How Bigwigs and... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

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