Combining his talents as a geographer, historian, and writer to superb effect, Derek Hayes, author of gorgeous, landmark historical atlases of the North Pacific Ocean and British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, has produced a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully written history of Canada. Canada: An Illustrated History is one of those rare general histories that manages to present critical historical scholarship in vibrant colour. Hayes's narrative traces Canada's development from contact with the First Nations, through the clash of the French and British Empires and the rebellions, to the building of the nation through the political events of the 19th and 20th centuries. The method is traditional, but the opinions offered are critical and based on sound historical research. For example, the successful British general Geoffrey Amherst, a hero in older texts, is here "ruth but brilliant," and his war crimes are fully exposed. Similarly, Hayes tackles controversial issues with a refreshing no-nonsense approach. The contentious saga of Louis Riel is explained plainly in the terms of hard political realities without reference to emotional rhetoric or cultural agendas. To flesh out his narrative, Hayes employs social and cultural sidebars to explore facets of Canadian history that exist outside of the political framework of the narrative: the origin of the name Canada, biographical profiles, Canadian inventions, and the like all serve to bring the story to life. The illustrations deserve special mention. The well-chosen maps, documents, photographs, paintings, and engravings make this a volume to treasure. This is a book to read on Sunday afternoon sprawled out on the living room carpet, and every Canadian family should have a copy.