In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.
But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.
Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.
Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.
The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.
Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.
The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.
“Jack McClelland was a pioneer in Canadian publishing. In the late fifties and the sixties – at a time when many Canadians did not believe they had a literature, or if they did have one, it wasn’t very good or interesting – he swung onto the scene like a swashbuckling pirate. He took chances on authors, published them with fanfare, and promoted them in daring and original ways, and he remained loyal to them…”
Key Porter CAN/98
IMAGINING CANADIAN LITERATURE
The Selected Letters of Jack McClelland
Edited by Sam Solecki
This book may be difficult to locate, but if you are interested in the creative collaboration of writers and publishers, you will find this collection enthralling.
Jack McClelland, home from WWII, started working at his father¹s firm, McClelland & Stewart, in 1946. In the next 40 years, he befriended, nurtured and published a galaxy of extraordinarily talented and brilliant Canadian writers. He was one of the world¹s great publishers, ranked with Alfred Knopf, Roger Straus, and Victor Gollancz.
From an archive of thousands of letters, Sam Solecki has culled selections from his correspondence with Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, Michael Ondaatje, Robertson Davies, Brian Moore, Farley Mowat, and many others.
The letters bear witness to McClelland’s friendships, his devotion to the authors he published, his sense of humour, and his sense of what makes for good publishing.
It is not true that all good books get published. It is true that good books are not written if there is no publisher to expose them and no audience to
engage with them. To follow McClelland’s career is a study in the growth of a literary culture.