Like every man, Dr. Norman Bethune had his flaws. There is no need to falsify the record with inventions and distortions. An accurate portrayal of Bethune’s personality is important then, not just for history’s sake, but because he continues to be a living force capable, let us fervently hope, of healing the dangerous rift opening between the country in which he was born and the country in which he died.
In the summer of 1974, in a hotel room in Rome, Simone de Beauvoir tape-recorded a series of conversations with her lifelong companion, Jean-Paul Sartre. He was already almost blind and beginning to suffer the illnesses that would take his life six years later. De Beauvoir asked Sartre what works of his he thought had the greatest chance of surviving. Sartre replied, “I think it’s Situations, articles related to my philosophy but written in a very simple style and speaking of things that everybody knows.”