Mr. Bush, Angus and Me: Notes of an American-Canadian in the Age of Unreason


143 pages
ISBN 1-895900-75-1
DDC 973.931





Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


At first glance, this book appears to be a collection of well-written
but unrelated essays. In them Laffoley discusses the World War I Battle
of Verdun; Ptolemy’s suggestion that the world is round; Auschwitz;
the myth that the Pilgrims (confused with the Puritans) came to America
in search of freedom, when what they actually wanted was purity; the
second Bush administration’s out-sourcing of torture; the Vietnam War;
the U.S. War of Independence; the U.S. Civil War; electoral
irregularities in Florida, even in 2004; the 1066 Battle of Hastings;
France’s Dreyfus scandal; and Stephen Lewis’s battle against AIDS.
Laffoley, an American by birth who moved to Canada in the 1980s, teaches
in Halifax. There are articles on his becoming a Canadian, as well as on
the challenges and rewards of teaching on a reserve north of Sioux
Lookout, Ontario.

Then the point of the book becomes obvious. Like countless other
Americans, Laffoley became a Canadian because of disillusionment with
the United States. Ronald Reagan represented the worst of the American
spirit—greed, militarism, racism—and the two Bushes (but especially
the second one) reaffirm the problem. No longer is the United States a
place where one can safely discuss such issues as the wisdom of the
latest war in Iraq. No longer can a prominent person express public
doubt about Jesus’ Virgin Birth and divinity, as did Thomas Jefferson.
In this post–9/11 “Age of Unreason,” as Laffoley calls it,
“Pacifists are Lunatics and Pro-Life Means Pro-War.” Republicans who
support the Iraq War—despite the fact that Saddam Hussein had nothing
to do with 9/11—protested Terri Schiavo’s removal from a
life-support system on the grounds that everyone should respect life.
(Laffoley might have mentioned that many of those same Republicans
favour capital punishment.)

The book’s title comes from the final essay. When President George W.
Bush visited Halifax in 2004, Laffoley waited along the route the
president would travel and discovered that Angus, the elderly gentleman
beside him, admired the visitor. While Laffoley gave Bush the finger,
Angus gave a friendly wave. Yet Laffoley and Angus could then shake
hands and agree to disagree. That, says Laffoley, “was a very Canadian


Laffoley, Stgeven Edwin., “Mr. Bush, Angus and Me: Notes of an American-Canadian in the Age of Unreason,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,