The many published volumes of the writings of Harold Adams Innis testify to his extraordinary grasp of the ordering principles of human history. The notes that he left at the time of his death provide a new and revealing profile of the inner workings of this restless and relentless mind.
Innis maintained, added to, and corrected, in the last seven years of his life, a single system of cross-referenced notes, which came to be called the Idea File. Before his death in 1952 he collected these notes into a single numbered collation. In this edition the material has been arranged in chronological order to give a sense of the development of Innis's ideas and concerns.
Innis's interests were many and varied, and this collection of some 1500 notes covers an encyclopedic range of topics. The different lines of Innis's investigations converge, however, in his interest in basic political and cultural issues and in his fundamental concern for the preservation of individual freedom and creativity. At heart Innis was a moralist whose hatred of oppressive social institutions led him to examine them from many angles. It is a fascinating odyssey. Every reader will be refreshed and enriched by sharing Innis's life-long intellectual adventure.
William Christian is a professor emeritus of the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph. He is author of George Grant: A Biography and editor of George Grant: Selected Letters, both published by the University of Toronto Press.