The day after World War II is declared in Canada, Sandy Grey's father, a fundamentalist preacher, won't give him permission to fight. When Sandy's attempt to oppose his father and his upbringing turns violent, he is incarcerated in an asylum for the criminally insane. There he meets Karl, a German; Winchell, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War; Bob, a homosexual who is singled out for favours by a brutal asylum attendant; along with Russians, Chinese and a few hated Japanese. Unsure how to convince his doctor that he is sane, or of how he fits into the world within a world that is the asylum, Sandy is determined to uncover an historical miscarriage of justice in the hope that it will, by analogy, prove his innocence. "What It Takes To Be Human" exposes the acute parallels between those who are incarcerated and those whose lives are being torn apart by distant conflict.
Used availability for Marilyn Bowering's What It Takes to Be Human