Thursday, 1 January 2015


Resplendent with anachronisms

As Brian points out in his post, Rohmer's use of "bullshit" is an anachronism, but the book is littered with them.  People speak to each other like we're in the world of Ultimatum!  A few other examples (and there are more;  I gave up writing them down halfway through):

- The word "stereotype"  is used to denote personality traits.  Although the word existed as a printing term, it wasn't used in this sense until 1922.

- "Anyway, I've beaten those lah-de-dah snobs at their own game" - the word "la-di-da"  first appeared in 1889.

- "I wanted to get all my ducks in a row" The expression "ducks in a row"  first appeared in an article in the Washington Post in 1932.

As time is always of the essence (I know this because the expression is used), I kept expecting someone to get on a plane to make a secret meeting in China to discuss the deal.

Don't trip on your metaphor on the way out

"Without changes to that Treaty we'll probably never make a deal with the two-headed Russian Eagle."

Galt grunted. "Eagles. You're up against two proud, friendly eagles, John A.  Friendly with each other, that is."

The intense pain from Macdonald's shoulder made him wince as he agreed. "I hadn't thought of it before, but you're right.  I'm up against eagles - those two at any rate."

"And you and I, John A, an all of us here must do everything in our power to defeat the American eagle and its Manifest Destiny while we convince the Tsar or all the Russias that his powerful two-headed eagle should deposit its Russian American egg safely - and at an enormous price in gold - in our Canadian nest." 

Macdonald paused, then announced, "After that flight of oratory in the presence of excruciating pain, Alex, I think I deserve a tumbler of the best whisky."

As do the readers.

(no idea why Russian Eagle is capitalized and American eagle isn't, but I'm just transcribing here, not correcting)   


  1. The man really doesn't like being edited. I suppose the copy editor just went, "Yeah, whatever you say general. This part where Disraeli says, 'Gentlemen, I need you to focus like a laser'... if it's okay with you, it's okay with me."

    We're used to seeing people talking to nobody in their cars, because of hands-free phones, but imagine how weird it would be to see Richard Rohmer tooling down the Gardiner in 1979, apparently having a meeting with himself. (But, you know, actually dictating a thriller.)

    1. It is odd that not one review I've found mentions anachronisms or simple factual errors - quite the opposite. Invariably, praise focusses on the general's research and care with which he presents historical detail.

      Were they meant to encourage? More books like this one please; fewer like Red Arctic, thank you.

      But I liked Red Arctic more. Retaliation, too.

  2. Could you link to any of the reviews? Do you think Canadian critics just got used to the guy, like we have? Or do you think they liked the subject matter more interesting than natural gas?

    1. Sadly, everything I've read is protected by paywalls. Rohmer is a hot topic, you know. And let's not forget that the 200th anniversary of Sir John A.'s birth is just eight days away.

      So as not to disappoint, I'll post a few quotes. Each suitable as cover blurbs, I hate to see them hidden in the comments.