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Ampersand F22 UTP Specials Omnibus WEST/ON/QC/ATL

The Power of Story
On Truth, the Trickster, and New Fictions for a New Era
By (author): Harold R. Johnson
Harold R. Johnson





Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Oct 11, 2022
$22.95 CAD


8in x 5 x 0.4 in | 230 gr

Page Count:

192 pages
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Indigenous Studies

Award-winning Indigenous author Harold R. Johnson discusses the promise and potential of storytelling.

Approached by an ecumenical society representing many faiths, from Judeo-Christians to fellow members of First Nations, Harold R. Johnson agreed to host a group who wanted to hear him speak about the power of storytelling. This book is the outcome of that gathering. In The Power of Story, Johnson explains the role of storytelling in every aspect of human life, from personal identity to history and the social contracts that structure our societies, and illustrates how we can direct its potential to re-create and reform not only our own lives, but the life we share. Companionable, clear-eyed, and, above all, optimistic, Johnson’s message is both a dire warning and a direct invitation to each of us to imagine and create, together, the world we want to live in.

Key selling points

  • Expert author: a veteran of Canada's Navy and a former logger and miner, Harvard Law-educated Johnson worked as a Crown prosecutor before becoming a full-time writer of nonfiction, fiction, and hybrid works that incorporate Indigenous oral culture with his professional and academic training.
  • Inclusive vision and real-life stories: structured as a monologue directed to a general audience, The Power of Story weaves together stories from his personal history, professional careers, Cree belief and history, and Western science and medicine. He describes the book as the culmination of his understanding.
  • Breaking news: a long-time advocate for alcohol reform, ecological stewardship, and reconciliation, Johnson offers a cohesive narrative that clarifies the ongoing effects of Treaty breaking and the residential school systems applicable to Indigenous cultures on both sides of the border.
  • Hot topic: addresses questions of intergenerational trauma, PTSD, and holistic approaches to the treatment of trauma.
  • Editorial comps include Thomas King's An Inconvenient Indian, Tanya Talaga's Seven Fallen Feathers, and Billy-Ray Belcourt's A History of My Brief Body.

Harold R. Johnson (1954–2022) was the author of six works of fiction and six works of nonfiction, including Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours), which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan to a Swedish father and a Cree mother, Johnson served in the Canadian Navy and worked as a miner, logger, mechanic, trapper, fisherman, tree planter, and heavy-equipment operator. He graduated from Harvard Law School and managed a private practice for several years before becoming a Crown prosecutor. He was a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation.


  • Print run: 5,000
  • Co-op available
  • Advance reader copies
  • Digital review copies
  • North American TV & radio campaign
  • Online and social media campaign and giveaways.
  • Excerpts in LitHub, Electric Lit
  • Key audience outreach: Indigenous media, ecumenical societies, cultural studies departments


Praise for The Power of Story

"Johnson’s idea is a powerful one: that a person is not only the 'author' but also the 'editor' of his or her life, that reframing a narrative is enough to change it."
—Literary Review of Canada

"A fascinating, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring read from cover to cover."
—Midwest Book Review

"By examining Indigenous stories, ways of living, dying, and—yes—laughing, Johnson ... offer[s] powerful alternatives to hierarchical structures of society that insist on consuming the Earth’s natural resources at an unsustainable pace."
—Steven Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag

"[The Power of Story] is quite the legacy to leave behind ... Clear and telling, this final work by Johnson is educational, cohesive and a very intriguing read."
—The Link

"The Power of Story is a profoundly hopeful book, rooted in the malleability of stories we have taken for granted (the justice system and the government, to name but two), and the power of humans building out from their lifestories to effect those changes."
—Quill & Quire

"Recently in conversation with a friend I remarked that the whole world is a story. Harold Johnson fills that phrase with profound meaning in The Power of Story as he takes ancient figures and modernizes their storied wit and role in creating the worlds we perceive and the boundaries we need. Harold blessed us one last time with a profound conversation on the role of story in every aspect of our lives."
—Michelle Good, author of Five Little Indians

The Power of Story begins where all great stories begin: around a fire. Harold Johnson gives us a seat at the fire to listen and take into ourselves some spellbinding, bracing, and provocative stories told with a view to healing and transforming. As Harold writes ‘It’s starting to get darker now, and a bright fire will help.’ The Power of Story is that bright fire. And it will help. His final book is a balm for our times.”
—Shelagh Rogers

Praise for Harold R. Johnson

“An extraordinary memoir by a Cree writer who understands the damage alcohol does when used to kill the pain caused by white Canadians stealing and torturing Indigenous children throughout this nation’s history. I know many white alcoholics but it’s always ‘the drunk Indian.’ Why? Firewater is a great book; it burns in the hand.”
—Toronto Star

“A natural storyteller, Johnson seeks imagined pasts and futurity with equal parts longing and care. This work allows readers and writers the possibility of new and ancient modes of storytelling.”
—Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

“A luminous, genre-bending memoir. Heartache and hardship are no match for the disarming whimsy, the layered storytelling shot through with love. The power of land, the pull of family, the turbulence of poverty are threads woven together with explorations of reality, tackling truth with a trickster slant.”
—Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster

“Written in the style of a kitchen-table conversation, Johnson’s personal anecdotes and perceptive analysis are a call to return to a traditional culture of sobriety … [a] well-argued case.”
—Publishers Weekly

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