Peace Shall Destroy Many

by Rudy Wiebe | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0771091826 Global Overview for this book
Registered by gypsysmom of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 1/1/2006
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by gypsysmom from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, January 1, 2006
Purchased at Goodwill. This is one of McClelland and Stewart's New Canadian Library editions.

Journal Entry 2 by gypsysmom from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This is the second book of Rudy Wiebe's that I have read, the other being The Blue Hills of China. I actually liked this one better and it was his first novel.

The setting is the community of Wapiti, an area of northern Saskatchewan, which has a large contingent of Mennonites as well as natives. The time is the year 1944. The Mennonites came to Saskatchewan after being forced out of Russia after the Russian Revolution. Deacon Peter Block was the founder of the community and still the most important person. It is Block's view that the community needs to keep segregated from the outside world although he personally seems to have quite a few dealings with it. Thomas Wiens is a young man just recently accepted as a church member and a friend of Block's son, Pete. Although Mennonite practises forbid going to war some young men from the community have joined the forces and Thom is expecting his call any time. He struggles with what he should do when it does come. The former schoolmaster, Joseph, joined the Medical Corps so he doesn't have to carry a gun but he is still aiding the war effort. That is not the only quandary Thomas faces. He took up teaching a Bible class to native youngsters after Joseph left and he is greatly troubled by the conditions the natives experience. He is also troubled that the Mennonite church will not accept natives as members. Thom ruminates about these matters but just to show that he is a red-blooded male he also has started to think romantically about the pastor's daughter. I guess you could call this a Mennonite coming-of-age story.

One of the loveliest passages in the book starts off Chapter Ten:
In the last week of October the threshing crew was working at the Block farm. When they concluded there, the harvesting for the year would be done.
Thom squirmed under the body of the massive machine to get at a grease cup. Running tractor and thresher with Block, he had been with the crew almost a month and, though he would have been happier on the open field, he wanted to know as much as he could about tractors. Capping the cup, he pushed out, wiping his greased hands on the chaff snowed about the machine.
The stillness of the noon-hour quivered in Indian summer haze. The vanished bedlam that usually engulfed the outfit gave the world an almost timeless hush. The men ate in the house. The horses chomped on oat-bundles around their racks. As a harness shivered, a blue-jay called through the autumn trees; Thom felt the peace of the world. The smell of threshing in his nostrils, from where he stood he could look across the half-threshed stack of bundles to the garden, now mounded and sprawled with empty vines, beyond the house and along the line of poplar and willow and birch in mottled yellow and white and dull-red stretching far as in smoke. The geese were long gone, but a covey of sparrows, swooping round the granary at the heap of cracked wheat by the elevator of the thresher, spied him, and vanished in a swirl. Another day, and the harvest would be home.

Ironically, the ending of Chapter Ten is the farthest you can imagine from that lyrical paean to farm life. I'm pretty sure Wiebe planned it that way.

If you want to understand more about the Mennonite religion this would be a good book to read. It's also a good exploration of what life was like in rural areas during the war, not a point of view often explored. And if you went to a one-room school, as I did, read it just for the description of the Christmas concert in the last chapter. My, that took me back.

I'll probably hold onto this book for the Canada Day release challenge.

ETA I did release this for the 2009 Canada Day challenge. See the journal entry below for details. This release was also for the 52 Towns in 52 Weeks challenge.

Journal Entry 3 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Monday, June 29, 2009
Sorry but this isn't my type of book. But I figured I would send it on it's way again. I'm in brandon manitoba now and will leave it in a place where it can be found respectfully. My boys and I were on a road trip to Clear lake and on the way back they wanted to stop at the moose statue in onanole so thats how I came across it. It will be on it's way soon Thanks.


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