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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Jane Jacobs wins the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. This is the top political writing prize in Canada and worth $15,000. Not bad for one’s evening take home pay.

The Shaughnessy Cohen prize is award annually to the most outstanding political book based on literary merit and enhancement of one’s understanding of political and social issues in Canada.

If you liked Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress, you’ll like Jane Jacob’s Dark Age Ahead. It has sat on the bestseller list for awhile, but aside from that the book is described as a grave warning to a society losing its memory. I quite frequently talk about “collective memory” and its fallibility regarding politics. But Jane and Ronald truly outperform in terms of hammering that message home.

Jane’s book is her reflection on society and her lessons on how to avoid decline. And we’re not talking physical body decline (although Jane is 88), we’re talking society’s decline. She looks at North American culture and compares it to European culture before the fall of the Roman Empire. And those who remember history will recall the “Dark Ages” followed.

I’m humming “The Imperial March” from the Empire Strikes Back. I would like to believe civilization continues, but I could do with a little less empire.

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