I first met Ken McGoogan in Calgary almost 3 decades ago (!) when he was Books Editor at The Calgary Herald and I was manager of Sandpiper Books. I was honoured when he later agreed to write a blurb for the print edition of my novel. It gives me great pleasure to be able to present to all my readers Ken’s new book on the day it is being released in Canada!
What is your latest release and what genre is it? Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation
Quick description: With Celtic Lightning, best-selling author Ken McGoogan plunges into the perpetual debate about Canadian roots and identity: who do we think we are? He argues that Canadians have never investigated the demographic reality that informs this book — the fact that more than nine million Canadians claim Scottish or Irish heritage.
McGoogan writes that, to understand who we are and where we are going, Canadians must look to cultural genealogy. He builds on the work of Richard Dawkins, who contends that ideas and values (“memes”) can be transmitted from one generation to another. Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in Canada with values they had learned from their forebears. And they did so early enough, and in sufficient numbers, to shape an emerging Canadian nation.
McGoogan highlights five of the values they imported as foundational: independence, audacity, democracy, pluralism, and perseverance. He shows that these values are thriving in contemporary Canada, and traces their evolution through the lives of thirty prominent individuals — heroes, rebels, poets, inventors, pirate queens — who played formative roles in the histories of Scotland and Ireland.
While researching Celtic Lightning, Ken McGoogan spent several summers driving around Scotland and Ireland, and also circumnavigated both countries. His dozen previous books include How the Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage, and Lady Franklin’s Revenge. Ken has won the Pierre Berton Award, the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, and the Canadian Authors’ Association History Award. He voyages with Adventure Canada as an author-historian, and teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Toronto and in the new MFA program at University of King’s College in Halifax.
Links to buy Ken’s book:
Any good bookstore
Harper Collins Canada
What are you working on now?
A fifth book about Arctic exploration.
Ken’s reading recommendation:
Margaret MacMillan’s History’s People: Personalities and the Past.