1. First, what is the book about? This question leads to others. Does the book have a central theme? Does it argue a thesis? What is the author’s purpose? How well did the author accomplish this purpose? At some point early on in your review you should try to summarize the theme, or thesis, in a couple of sentences or short paragraph.
2. Secondly, is the book reliable? One should ask of a history book not simply is it interesting? But also is it credible? History can be both factual and interesting, but if it is not based on solid evidence, it is not history. Now there is nothing very mysterious about the process of appraising the reliability of a history book. When an intelligent person hears a bit of interesting gossip they do not take it at face value. A person usually asks the source of the gossip: who passed it along? What special interest might the teller have in circulating the story? The intelligent person has learned from experience that gossip is not always fact. The book reviewer must also learn to develop the same reluctance in accepting the written work which they display toward idle gossip. One way of discovering whether the work is reliable is to learn something about the author used in the work. Has the author consulted a wide range of appropriate historical sources? Are the sources of information indicated in a detailed bibliography or simply mentioned as asides within the text? As far as you can tell, are the sources consulted reliable?
Background of authors- George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic
This study aims to conduct a detailed analysis of the book “The Doukhobors”, written by George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic. The critical analysis will be done on the basis of, the content of the book, the purpose of the authors and their justification with the central theme of the book. At the end, the study finds out the areas which are less focused all through the book. Being a professor of English in the University of British Columbia, George Woodcock was also inclined to writing poems, biography. He was also the editor of a journal named “Canadian literature”. Ivan Avakumovic, the other author of the book used to teach political science in the same university. The political science books he wrote were based on the history of Communist party. These are the evidences of his deep observation power, reflective thinking and writing skills.
The title, “The Doukhobor," is indicative of the concept of "Spirit Wrestlers". Archbishop Serebrennikov first coined the tem Doukhobors in 1785. That time, a group of dissenters, who strictly followed the Orthodox concepts of Christianity were called Doukhobors. In the 19 th century a group of people emerged from Russia. They were reluctant to hold the conventional beliefs of Christianity. They migrated to Canada in the middle of the 19th century. The book The Doukhobors. 1977 portrayed the culture, religious beliefs, lifestyle of Doukhobors along with the turbulence caused when they migrated to Canada.
This book claimed that Doukhobors used to believe the concept of uniting with the almighty fighting against superstitions, not against the God. They used to deny the concept of mediatory priesthood as described in the translation of the 17 th century Bible. The book also pointed out that the conventional concept of Baptism, the doctrine of redemption that the Churches tend to hold, were futile in the eyes of the Doukhobors. According to Doukhobors, the basic symbols of existence should be considered as the signs of their religious beliefs. Those were-the loaf of bread, cellar of salt and the jug of water. It is evident from the book that the authors used to follow the ideas of Anabaptist dissenters and attempted to establish same ideas and beliefs in their creation.
The portrayal of the context of the book proves that the authors have consulted a lot of historical sources at the time of writing the book. The Doukhobors of British Columbia (1955) was one of such significant sources. It was written by Harry B. Hawthorn, a well-known name in the field of sociology, who got the assistance from the provincial government at the time of writing the book and included statistical data regarding the number of Doukhobor immigrants in Canada, what percentage of them actually got the assistance of the government. Vasya Pozdnyakov's Dukhobor which was basically Peter Brock’s translation and a narrative published in the Slavonic and East European Review (June 1965) also added to the central theme. Another famous article named “Life of Tolstoy” which focused on the life of that religious group prior to their migration to Canada also contributed to the contents of the book.
The concept of "Spirit Wrestlers"
Author Joseph Elkinton, got the permission to access the records held by Russian government and supported all the evidences written in his book The Doukhobors (1903), by statistical data.
Citations revealed that the book “The Doukhobors” have also used this valuable source. In order to describe the distressful situation and the challenges that Doukhobors had to undergo, the authors had taken reference from the book Terror in the Name of God (1964), written by Simma Holt. All these have enriched the book with information.
In order to make the book more realistic as well as engrossing the authors have mentioned several incidents with appropriate evidences. In spite of Doukhobor’s rejection to the ideas elaborated in Bible, they used to follow a process of ethnical teaching, which bore the signs of similarity with the teaching procedures of the orthodox Christians. Authors George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic, supplied instances in the book in support of such points and mentioned that the similarity in the teaching methods made Tolstoy assume that he had discovered a group of peasants who used to follow the same beliefs as he did. According to his assumption, those uneducated people were pacifist and capable of seeing Christianity through the prism of logic. This book has cited another point, which throws light on the thinking of the Doukhobors. Doukhobors used to believe that Christ was actually the exposition of deity. Also, they used to assume that there were multiple Christs among them. This idea of Doukhobor was evidenced by authors in various chapters of the book, where they mentioned that Doukhobor used to consider their leaders as Christs. The book also talked about the problems faced by Doukhobors when they migrated to Canada. This book bore the evidences how the method of forced integration adopted by the government of Canada casted a negative impact upon the assimilation of Doukhobors in the social environment of Canada. Canadian government provided large lands to Doukhobors at the lowest prices, whereas, the Hutterites got inadequate lands this added fuel into the conflict between Doukhobors and the people of Canada.
The drawbacks of the book are-digression from the central theme, unnecessary elaboration of the historical background. Again the book attempts to draw a picture of contrast only, by depicting the difference in the views of conventional Christians and Doukhbors, but
There is lack of rigidity in the reasoning or logic provided to support Doukhobors. The initial chapters may form a false assumption in the minds of the readers regarding the authors support towards the realistic concepts of Doukhobor, but the later chapters may confuse the readers.
Doukhobor religious beliefs and customs
One of the major loopholes may be the lack of recommendations to normalise the turbulent situation and accelerate the assimilation of Doukhobors in the society of Canada. The book is expensive too. Readers may find the monetary value of the book higher than the value of the content.
Finally, it may be concluded that, the loopholes in the theme as well as in the structure are indicative of the partial success of the authors to propagate their message. The first few chapters threw lights on the occupation, tradition and beliefs of Doukhobors. Next, the book attempted to explain the two distinct approaches to look at Christianity- one is followed by orthodox Christians and another by Doukhobors. After that, this book talked about the historical as well as socio-economical background at the time of Doukhobor’s migration to Canada with reference to the myths and controversies regarding the immigrants in Canada. Finally, the book pointed out policies of the government, which were not proved prudent in bringing national integration in Canada. Along with historical evidences, this book should provide suggestions to solve issues like unacceptance of Doukhobors. The additional factors which extended the gaps between Doukhobors and the citizen of Canada should be mentioned in the book. The book should discuss about effective policies which would not only accelerate the assimilation of Doukhobors in Canada, but also do justice to the people of Canada. Along with this, the authors should attempt to educate Canadian people about the benefits of a culturally diverse society and national integrity in order to bring unity between Doukhobors and the people of Canada.
Adams, Matthew S., and Luke Kelly. "George Woodcock and the Doukhobors: peasant radicalism, anarchism, and the Canadian state." Intellectual History Review 28, no. 3 (2018): 399-423.
Bociurkiw, Bohdan R. "The Doukhobors. By George Woodcock and Ivan Avakumovic. Toronto and New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. 382 pp. $7.50." Slavic Review28, no. 3: 517-518.
Verzuh, Ron. "OREGON'S DOUKHOBORS: The Hidden History of a Russian Religious Sect's Attempts to Found Colonies in the Beaver State." BC Studies 180 (2013): 43.
Alston, Charlotte. "«A Great Host of Sympathisers»: The Doukhobor Emigration and its International Supporters, 1895–1905." Journal of Modern European History 12, no. 2 (2014): 200-215.
Makarova, Veronika. "Doukhobor ‘freedom seeker’nudism: Exploring the sociocultural roots." Culture and Religion 14, no. 2 (2013): 131-145.
Inikova, Svetlana A. "The New Doctrines of the Doukhobor Fasters and Tolstoyism." In Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements in Eastern Europe, pp. 47-65. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017.
Carmichael, Adam. "Race and Assimilation: Doukhobor Education as Colonial History." In CPSA conference, Victoria. 2013.
Kelly, Luke. "Christianity and Humanitarianism in the Doukhobor Campaign, 1895–1902." Cultural and Social History 13, no. 3 (2016): 339-355.
Androsoff, Ashleigh. "Pacifist “Terrorists” in the “Peaceable Kingdom”: Cultural Conflict in Twentieth-Century Canada." Journal for the Study of Radicalism 7, no. 1 (2013): 1-35.
Rodgers, Kathleen, and Darcy Ingram. "Ideological migration and war resistance in British Columbia’s West Kootenays: An analysis of counterculture politics and community networks among Doukhobor, Quaker, and American migrants during the Vietnam War era." American Review of Canadian Studies 44, no. 1 (2014): 96-117.
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