Bruce Nunn,
History with a Twist:
Unusual Stories from
Mr. Nova Scotia Know-It-All

(Nimbus, 1998)

For Nova Scotians, Bruce Nunn is a voice, a radio personality sharing tales of the province's innovative and peculiar citizenry. For me, Nunn is a voice from a book, a narrative voice neatly captured in prose. Sure, I'm reading his words, not hearing them, and I've never met Nunn personally -- but when reading his stories, I can almost see him, tipping back in his chair, a pint of Keith's close at hand, as he spins yarns about some of the folks who punctuate his local history with exclamation points.

History with a Twist certainly has a barrel of stories to tell, and Nunn will spare no pun in the telling -- from revelations about the ghost who haunted North America's first Christmas tree to the derring-do of Nova Scotia's vigorous trade in illegal plaid. Further into the pages and you'll meet Simon Newcomb, the scientist whose work inspired diverse figures including Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and who brought order to the universe and cool air to a dying U.S. president; Alphee Deveau, the gentle, big-footed Acadian woodsman; Oswald Avery, who first defined the genetic material in DNA; and George Dawson, the man who launched the Klondike gold rush without ever finding a nugget of gold.

You'll sail about the Lunenberg-built HMS Bounty, modeled after the famous original, which sailed to Tahiti for filming and, on its return voyage, was caught up in one of the biggest international incidents of the 1960s. You'll experience the misadventures of a young English prince who believes himself as capable as any common logger could be. And you'll learn who put the "Peggy" in Peggy's Cove.

And plenty more. History with a Twist is an entertaining look at a distinctive place and its distinguished people, and Nunn brings it all to life with local color and personable flair.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 13 December 2003