Short listed for 3 Saskatchewan Book Awards: Non-Fiction AwardSaskatoon AwardBook of the Year AwardOn the morning of 5 December 1933, a young RCMP constable discovered a grisly scene in the Avalon sch
Short listed for 3 Saskatchewan Book Awards:
- Non-Fiction Award
- Saskatoon Award
- Book of the Year Award
On the morning of 5 December 1933, a young RCMP constable discovered a grisly scene in the Avalon schoolyard in rural Saskatchewan. A young boy lay dead in a rented car, an apparent victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the car with him were his parents, who would survive both the effects of the gas and self-inflicted knife wounds only to face murder charges in their son's death. The subsequent trial of Ted and Rose Bates ranks as one of the most hotly debated in Saskatchewan history.
Historian Bill Waiser examines an incident long held up as an example of the sheer despair and bureaucratic heartlessness of the Depression and shows that the truth is much more complex.
Through meticulous research, including letters, police and trial documents, contemporary accounts, and interviews with people who knew Ted, Rose, and Jackie, the author recreates the troubled lives and desperate times of Ted and Rose Bates in order to explain what led them to that isolated schoolyard on a cold December night. Waiser traces the Bates' story from Ted and Rose's arrival in Canada as immigrants searching for a better life to the final outcome of their dramatic trial.
The story is written with an immediacy that goes beyond a more traditional narrative approach in order to provide a better understanding and appreciation of the circumstances behind the sorry incident. The words spoken throughout the book are taken verbatim from the sources and serve to reinforce that the Bates were not simply helpless victims of the Depression, but flawed people with complex personalities.
Who Killed Jackie Bates? superbly recreates the Depression ethos to provide insight into a time and place that seem light years away from the Canada of today.
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"I love this book. Who Killed Jackie Bates? is simply and beautifully written, impeccably researched, and as fair as can be. It offers a compelling glimpse of the cruelties visited upon Canadians during the Great Depression but never veers from the hard truth that the greatest of these was suffered by an eight-year-old boy who was killed by his parents."
-- Christie Blatchford, Globe and Mail and author of Fifteen Days
"Who Killed Jackie Bates? is a zippy, easy read, packed with details, written by a historian who knows how to build suspense while at the same time maintaining an objective stance regarding the facts of the case."
-- Quill & Quire
"The carefully constructed chapters allow a glimpse of life in a desperate and dark era of Saskatchewan history. Far from being a history textbook, however, Who Killed Jackie Bates? is full of enough homegrown drama and insight into the human condition to make it a compelling read."
-- Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
"A chilling study of the tragic death of an eight-year-old boy during the darkest days of the Great Depression. . . Waiser pieces together the long-forgotten case and at that same time gives us a clear picture of the desperation of people caught in the poverty of the Dirty Thirties in Saskatchewan.
In Who Killed Jackie Bates? Bill Waiser takes an everyman's story of the Great Depression and creates a rich landscape. It reads like a novel, it sings.
Such a strong, vivid rendering of the real and the imagined; Bill Waiser carefully tackles such a crucial part of our prairie history and brings it, and its mysteries, to life before our eyes."
-- Saskatchewan Book Award Jury
"A slim and elegant volume, attractively presented… it represents an excellent gift suggestion for anyone interested in celebrating Canadian trials, history, psychology or social sciences. An excellent book which tells a disturbing story with reserve and respect for those who suffered in the past and with a critical eye to current events."
-- The Sherbrooke Record
"Bill Waiser has presented a sad, but very readable book, well-researched, and as a specialist in Western and Northern Canadian History, has distinguished his ability to research, discover, and present pertinent facts of interest."
-- Shelf Life (magazine)
Bill Waiser has been a member of the department of history at the University of Saskatchewan since 1984. He is the author, coauthor, or co-editor of nine books, including Loyal Till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion, which was a 1997 finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction, and Saskatchewan: A New History, which was named the best book in prairie history in 2005 and awarded the Clio Prize by the Canadian Historical Association.
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