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November 2014

Recent Canadian War Reads in 2014

November 11, 2014 | John P. | Comments (0)

As Canadians commemorate another Remembrance Day by paying respect to and acknowledging those who served Canada in previous conflicts and wars, Toronto Public Library collections offer a variety of book titles that may be of interest to readers:

Canada in the great power game 1914-2014

Canada in the great power game 1914-2014 / Gwynne Dyer.

Dyer, the author of the bestseller War, juxtaposes Canada’s military and/or political involvement in a variety of wars (i.e Boer War, World War One, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and the more recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq) with the domestic political considerations of the political elite who manipulated many mainstream Canadians into supporting military action.

Also available in eBook format.

Read the review in Foreign Policy Journal. Read the review in Globe and Mail.


Canadians at war a guide to the battlefields and memorials of World War II

Canadians at war: a guide to the battlefields and memorials of World War II / Susan Evans Shaw.

The author begins with a pre-history of Canada’s war preparation and the routes of Canadian forces as they fought in the European and Pacific theatres of the Second World War. The book provides detailed information on the battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials associated with Canadian troops. Additional information is available on the Canadian Forestry Group, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps Overseas, Canadian prisoners of war, and how to research a Canadian soldier who fought in World War Two.

Read the brief story from the Canadian Press


Dispatches from the front Matthew Halton Canada's voice at war

Dispatches from the front: Matthew Halton, Canada's voice at war / David Halton.

Retired Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist David Halton tells the story of his father, renowned CBC World War Two war correspondent Matthew Halton, whose reporting from the battlefields became legendary. Less known is the fact that Matthew Halton showed a prescience like Winston Churchill for predicting the Second World War and its ensuing loss and maiming of life, destruction of communities, countries, and property. Halton interviewed many of the historical figures of the day, including Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Mahatma Gandhi.

Also available in eBook format.

Read the review from the Toronto Star.


Fields of fire the Canadians in Normandy

Fields of fire: the Canadians in Normandy [Second edition] / J.T. Copp.

Terry Copp took exception to the view that the Canadian military’s contribution to the Battle of Normandy in the spring/summer of 1944 was a failure, and provided the reader with an examination of the battlefield terrain itself in addition to an accounting of each military operation carried out by the Canadian Army. Canada’s citizen-soldiers were well-matched to deal with a well-established and well-armed opposing German army. The author has added a new introduction in the second edition that analyzes the strategy behind the Battle of Normandy.

Read the review of the first edition from Canadian Literature. Read the review of the first edition from Quill and Quire


Forgiveness a gift from my grandparents

Forgiveness: a gift from my grandparents / Mark Sakamoto.

The author delves into his family history and traces the intersections from both maternal and paternal lines that brought both families to Alberta by the 1960s. His paternal grandmother, Mitsue Sakamoto, and her Japanese-Canadian family had their possessions taken away and were forcibly relocated from British Columbia to Alberta, following the attack of the Imperial Japanese Navy on the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. On the other hand, the author’s maternal grandfather, Ralph Maclean, from Atlantic Canada, endured four harsh years of captivity as a Japanese prisoner-of-war, following the fall of Hong Kong in December 1941. Past injustices were left in the past as two families got together to see their children, Stanley Sakamoto and Phyllis Maclean (aka the author’s parents), get married and begin a family.

Also available in eBook format.

Read the review in the Globe and Mail. Read the review from Maclean's magazine. Read the review in the National Post.

Listen to Mark Sakamoto talk about his book Forgiveness on Global TV’s The Morning Show (June 3, 2014): 



The greatest victory Canada's one hundred days 1918

The greatest victory: Canada's one hundred days, 1918 / J.L. Granatstein.

Retired York University professor emeritus of history Jack Granatstein offers the reader an interesting premise that Canada’s contribution of its “shock troops” in achieving a series of military victories from August 8 to November 11, 1918, following painstaking preparation and planning by its officers and soldiers, including Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur William Currie, the commander of the Canadian Corps, was more significant than even the victory at Vimy Ridge from April 9-12, 1917.

Read the review from the Winnipeg Free Press. Read the review from Quill and Quire


Into the Blizzard Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead

Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead / Michael Winter.

Novelist Michael Winter enters the world of non-fiction by following the journey of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War. Delve into a temporal juxtaposition between present day (Michael Winter retracing the journeys of the RNR) and the past (including: the first Newfoundlander to enlist to serve in the army during World War One; the history of the boat transporting Newfoundland’s soldiers to war; the first Newfoundlander to be killed during the First World War; the origin of the term “Blue Puttees”; and the horrible fate awaiting the regiment at the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916). Michael Winter writes from a human interest perspective such as the cruelty and irrelevancy of war, the fragility of human life, the life of Victoria Cross winner Thomas Ricketts, and even supporting deserters for having the “courage” to reject militarism.

Read the review from Quill and Quire.  


The necessary war [volume 1: 1939-1943] / Tim Cook.

Academic and Canadian War Museum historian Tim Cook offers the readers his first of two volumes of Canadians fighting during the Second World War up to the Battle of Ortona in Italy in December 1943. Cook makes the point that the Canadian military was largely made up of citizen volunteers. Cook does not hide the fact that Canada was unprepared for war at the commencement of hostilities in September 1939 and is not afraid to assign blame for the lack of sufficient and efficient equipment to fight a war. On the issue of the 1942 Dieppe landing, the author places blame for the disastrous result squarely on Lord Louis Mountbatten, the commander of the Combined Operations Headquarters.

Also available in eBook format as:


The Necessary war Volume One Canadians Fighting the Second World War 1939-43

The necessary war, volume 1: Canadians fighting the Second World War 1939-43

Read the Globe and Mail article about Tim Cook and his book.

Read the Ottawa Citizen article about Tim Cook and this book.

Read the review from the Winnipeg Free Press


Valour Road

Valour Road / John Nadler.

Read the story of how Winnipeg’s Pine Street was renamed Valour Road in 1925 to commemorate the contribution of three residents of that street, namely Corporal Leo Clarke (1892-1916), Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall (1885-1915), and Lieutenant Robert Shankland (1887-1968), who (two posthumously) each won the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery and valour on the western front of the First World War.

Also available in eBook format.

Read the review from the Winnipeg Free Press


Do you read fiction? Then consider the following novel:  



Tell / Frances Itani. (Shortlisted for the 2014 Giller Prize)

Although some readers may find this novel a slow-starter, readers will recognize some of the characters from Itani's novel Deafening, including Kenan Oak, one of the main characters who has returned home to Desoronto, Ontario, following the conclusion of the First World War, wounded in both body (blind in one eye, limpness in one arm) and spirit (suffering from “shell shock”, now known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)). Kenan isolates himself from society, permitting only his wife Tress, his adoptive father, and Tress’ Aunt Maggie and Uncle Am to see him in the daylight. Tress and Kenan have been unable to conceive a child. The reader appreciates Kenan’s suffering even further with the introduction of letters from a soldier named Hugh (from Prince Edward Island) who shared the experiences of trench warfare. Is there hope for Kenan to heal? Readers may also find the parallel story of Aunt Maggie, Uncle Am and their unhappy marriage to be of interest.

Also available in eBook format.

Read the review from the Globe and Mail. Read the review from Quill and Quire.


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