2012 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing Finalist

What We Talk About

Noah Richler
What We Talk About When We Talk About War 
Goose Lane Editions



Jury Citation

"In this meticulously researched yet passionate book, Noah Richler aptly chronicles a shift in public discourse on war in Canada. In a country that has long perceived itself (rightly or wrongly) as by nature a peace-keeping force, war has gone from being a non-topic seldom discussed outside academia, to a well-oiled identity shaping mechanism. This book will make Canadians ponder Brecht’s aphorism: 'Woe to the nation that hungers for heroes.'"

About the Book

Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson envisioned Canada as a nation of peacekeepers, and won the Nobel Prize for his vision. However, throughout the last decade, the concept of the Canadian soldier as peacekeeper has been transformed. In What We Talk About When We Talk About War, Noah Richler looks at the narrative employed by politicians and the military and takes the media to task for our revised national mythology and re-interpretation of the events of past wars. Richler suggests that our changing narrative about war speaks volumes about our collective consciousness and how we have conceived and redefined ourselves as a nation as we talked ourselves into, through, and ultimately out of our participation in war.

About the Author

Noah Richler made documentaries and features for BBC Radio for 14 years before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been books editor and literary columnist for the National Post and has contributed to numerous publications, including the Guardian, Punch, and the Walrus. He is the author of This Is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada, which won the BC National Award for Canadian Non-fiction and was a finalist for the Nereus Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize. He lives in Toronto.




Woodcock Fund



Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing


September 19 for books published between June 20 and September 18, 2018


Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize


July 18 for books published between May 16 and Sept 30, 2018


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