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The Comeback

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  240 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Aboriginal peoples of Canada have been making a remarkable comeback from a terrifyingly low point of population, legal respect, and stability. This is a comeback to a position of power, influence, and creativity in Canadian civilization.

John Ralston Saul argues that historic moments are always uncomfortable. The events that began late in 2012 with the Idle No More movement
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by Viking Canada
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  240 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Dale White
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
There is no question that this book should be read by most Canadians. John Ralston Saul makes a passionate case for resolving the issues facing First Nations people and not just for the sake of the First Nations. The Canadian government - Canadians - need to move forward in a positive way. These issues have been smoldering for too long, and the second half of the book which are excerpts from various speeches dealing with the issue from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to the present, make that abu ...more
Nick Leeson
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
John Ralston Saul reminds us, with an eloquence that few can equal, what we owe to Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are legal rights not our sympathy.

While many Canadians seems taken aback by the rise of Aboriginal rights to the forefront of Canadian political discourse, what is happening today is not about guilt or sympathy. It's not about a romantic view of the past, nor is it an effort to prop up either a peoples or a culture that can't make it on their own. Canada, through the Honour of the Cro
Aleta Fera
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommended this book highly enough. it should be purchased in bulk and mailed to every household in Canada, settlers and First Nations alike. Intended to be a series of short, digestible essays on the state of relationships between FN and settlers, this took me 6 weeks to read because there was too much concentrated wisdom to easily process. How to be a partner in the most important work in Canada.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Interesting topic; mediocre book. I don't believe it's necessarily the case that a non-Indigenous author can't cover these issues, but this book is a really good why people roll their eyes at it. For a book that claims to be about the action, agency, and **comeback** of Indigenous people, most of it is about what the government is doing to them and musings about how democracy is Supposed To (TM) work. Idle No More is mentioned, but very few of their actions or aims are really covered. He talks h ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This is more of a practical manual to improving the condition of indigenous communities in Canada than a broad philosophical reflection on their position (which Saul did accomplish in A Fair Country). Nonetheless this is a very urgent call to action to bring First Nations people into the fold and to drop our decidedly colonial approach to their issues. They are not just Canadians but people who have a unique worldview which was formative to Canada's own decidedly unique national character. The a ...more
David Mitchell
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very important book about the extraordinary "comeback" of Canada's Aboriginal communities. Building on his brilliantly original previous book -- A Fair Country -- Saul scathingly denounces Canadian politicians and bureaucrats and, yet, identifies an idealistic path for an optimistic future. A must-read for anyone interested in public policy and one of the central issues of our times.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Ralston Saul's clear writing. He takes readers through what has historically happened with Aboriginal people in Canada up to and including the "Idle no More" movement. He notes we need to own what has occurred and not put it on history or government or others. It is a sad history that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.
Karl Dockstader
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
"Where did we go?" - An Ukwehu:we reader of this book
Marilyn Boyle-Taylor
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended and smart writing once again from Saul. This is a must read to gain a needed perspective.
Stanley Lee
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting stories about the canadian first nations.
Leandro Apostol
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Saul brilliantly unravels the operative Euro-centric and imperial mindset of the Canadian government historically towards Aboriginal peoples. He weaves historical evidence, critical philosophy, and emotionally-charged polemic to show us the contradictions and injustices of our modern society. It is both enlightening and disturbing to learn how much everyday, administrative politics and the belief systems that flow from it can produce so much harm, implicating both politicians and the ...more
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yes, it is time for a change in the national story, a change in priorities and time for a change in the adversarial relationship between Canada's government and the people it should be serving, specifically the Aboriginal ones. I don't see it happening with the current government, but I hope that future ones will take this book as a blueprint for rebuilding relationships of respect between peoples and for the safeguarding of our environment.

The 'Other People's Words' section was excellent - I wa
Apr 13, 2015 rated it liked it
A sequel to A Fair Country that focuses on three main arguments: that Canadians have not been honourable treaty partners with the First Peoples; that there is a serious democratic deficit that would encourage dialogue, recognition, and reconciliation; and that it will be the cosmologies of First Peoples that will allow Canadian society to deal with the great risks and repercussions of a utilitarian and linear worldview (including emerging and evident environmental issues).

Saul's argument, as I s
Although I have a deep dislike of the title, I thought that this was a profoundly interesting way to re-frame the ongoing debate between Canada's aboriginal peoples and the European colonizers. 'Who are the treaty people? We are the treaty people!' As Ralston Saul makes abundantly clear, that is all of us. He invites us to understand our relationship in light of those treaties as well as recent SCC decisions that have tended to support the aboriginal positions. I also liked his invitation to tho ...more
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My words will not do this book justice. It is amazing.
The author is not Aboriginal, but he listens. One of my favorite parts of this book is at the end. He has a section titled "Other People's Words" filled with the voices and speeches from First Nations leaders spanning a century about. It isn't comprehensive but he demonstrates the thing this book wants us to do: listen.
Too often oppressed people are left out of their own problems. Too often the government and fellow citizens will ignore the
Humza Hussain
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The Darwinian theory of evolution and its interpretations created, for colonizer a, a view of differences between people that was and is characterized by superiority and inferiority. It was assumed that because things happened over thousands of years, setting a painfully slow pattern of evolution, whatever was done today by those capable of taking power was actually a manifestation of scientific destiny. And scientific destiny show how meant these changes were intentional. So in yet another rem ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As I was reading John Ralston Saul’s brief but very important book The Comeback I felt more and more that something seemed familiar, particularly in the final section in which Saul reprints the words of a number of Indigenous thinkers. As I finished up, I realized that I was recognizing a strong parallel to historian of religion Mircea Eliade’s uncomfortably dated but still important The Myth of the Eternal Return, also known as Cosmos and History. To me, that strong parallel could point out a k ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book deserves five stars for its timely and progressive view of Aboriginal issues--an essential book to understand and build a more accurate and inclusive national narrative for Canada.

I am lowering its score to four stars because--and this may be the engineer talking--it is tremendously meandering and bloated. Saul has a clear narrative in mind, but constantly digresses, and ends up painting a fuzzy picture of his thesis. What is his overall point? What is he trying to say, in so many dive
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
John Ralston Saul shows once again that he is one of the world's most original thinkers and presents a uniquely compelling perspective on the relationship between Canada's aboriginals and non-aboriginals.
In his own and others' words, he lays out the history of broken promises and bureaucratic or needlessly litigious foot-dragging by every Canadian government while making his case for reconciliation, which Saul sees as a verb, a process rather than a gesture or photo-op.

Many people in the West
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is not a spellbinder, but it is an eye-opening read about what has been done to the Aboriginal peoples in Canada and what they are doing today to work with the rest of Canada.

Ojibway Chief John Kelly in 1977 testified to the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. These words struck me - 'You may not share the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged by the stranger, but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. Much against my will, and
Dec 21, 2014 marked it as to-read
had to return to library before finishing. have re-requested. Did get it back, and have found many other books that interested me more, while its' library loan expires again. Will put it back on my 'to read' list for future consideration. I think there are other books about the aboriginal experience and ways forward that carry more weight and are less pedantic and easier to read (although not necessarily in respect to the personal perspectives and stories), and written by aboriginal and Metis pe ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"We hope that tomorrow will come." As a non-Aboriginal Canadian, I hope the possible future of Canada that Saul says is possible will come, too. Mandatory reading for all Canadians. My understanding of democracy in general and how it pertains to the Canadian context were expanded. My view of history exploded - I didn't realize prior to reading this book how short-sighted my own historical understanding was. This book isn't just about Aboriginals, it's a call to action to build a better Canada co ...more
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was worried about this being a long pontificating essay but it turned out to be an earnest plea for sanity and justice in reconciliation. I've sat through lectures by Saul in the past but this wasn't like those. He provides a well crafted and we'll documented conversation on how the relationship with Indigenous people went so wrong and is plain on how we need to collectively get back on track. The only thing I wish he had spent more time on is some reflection on how to respond to that part of ...more
H Wesselius
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Saul hits all his usual spots -- true democracy, corporatism, Canada's uniqueness, etc., --- while discussing the rise or return of native Canadians to the political arena and discussion. There's nothing wrong with his argument and in most cases he states the obvious (at least for those of us who have followed his arguments before) but it lacks the coherence and narrative of Reflections of a Siamese Twin. The Comeback reads as if it was quickly written to take advantage of recent events.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Engagingly well written book summarizing historical Aboriginal issues and discussing the complex issues of today. I particularly enjoyed the last section of the book where Saul provides excerpts from documents of the past and today and offers up a small summary of the importance/significance of these documents.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: related-books
Courageously written! Refreshing to read Saul's words & the words instill hope that things just may shift for Canada's non-Indigenous population. The majority needs to drop the colonialist mentality & not get in the way of the Indigenous comeback...Saul's book stresses this reality with precision.
Jamie Lee
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, autographed
This book is a fantastic introduction to those learning about the issues that Aboriginal people in Canada have faced for the first time; also, it's great as well if you are Aboriginal and are looking for a hard cover source from a western source for essays.
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Powerful book as to the assertions of First Nation peoples and the wrongs committed against them by the government not respecting treaties and agreements. Good historical background and also timely to 2014.
Kathy Stinson
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read but inspiring in its optimism and practical proposals for how to right the wrongs that are too much part of Canada's history. I was pleased to see a good portion of the book devoted to voices of First Nations.
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book I was left with a feeling of optimism.

History, it gives context to the present and this context should leave us balanced in perspective with which to move forward.

An important book.
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John Ralston Saul is a Canadian author, essayist, and President of International PEN. As an essayist, Saul is particularly known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-, or more precisely technocrat-, led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role ...more
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“Politics is the force that channels social, cultural, and economic powers and makes them imminent in our lives. Abstaining from politics is like turning your back on a beast when it is angry and intent on ripping your guts out.” 1 likes
“At some point the Indian Act system will go. But that will be the result of a broad conversation involving Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals over how to settle the outstanding treaty, land and other issues. This won’t necessarily require a protracted debate. What it will require is that Canadians engage in the conversation instead of sitting back as if it doesn’t concern them. We have to be involved because what is needed is a serious transfer of responsibility and money, the exact opposite of dragging out treaty negotiations one by one. We need to do more than empower our governments to act. We need to push them. We need to make this a make-or-break issue. We need to elect or defeat them with these indigenous issues in mind.” 0 likes
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