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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.


Women in Leadership Roles: Sheryl Sandberg’s Take

March 10, 2013 | John P. | Comments (0)

As International Women’s Day has finished for another year, there are many examples of women undertaking a leadership role in a variety of contexts such as business, education, government, and sports etc. An example from the business world would be Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Facebook. Ms. Sandberg has an impressive academic background with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Sandberg began speaking about why the business world has too few female leaders in the upper echelons of companies at the TED Talk in 2010. The culmination of her efforts is the release of a new book on March 11-12, 2013 which will soon be available for Toronto Public Library customers.

Lean In Women Work and the Will to Lead


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead / Sheryl Sandberg, 2013.   Place Hold

Sandberg uses a combination of anecdotes including her personal experiences, data-based evidence, and research to navigate through the mixed messages and bias relating to working women, their lives and opportunities to choose. She offers advice on how to negotiate, the importance of mentoring and how to identify possible mentors, and the ability to have a meaningful career while still maintaining a personal life. Self-advocacy and self-confidence are both important skills to possess. Sandberg thinks that women still have a long way to go in achieving a stronger place at the higher levels of companies (only 21 women are in charge of Fortune 500 companies, and pay equity is lagging) and organizations but has encouraged women to have big dreams, steer through obstacles, and achieve their goals.


See also: Audiobook, eBook, and Talking Book (Restricted to Print Disabled Patrons) formats.


Please let us know what you think of the book after you have read it. Thank you.

New Titles for Book Club to Go

July 6, 2011 | Sara | Comments (0)

Check out the new titles that have been added to Albert Campbell branch’s Book Club to Go collection!  Reserve your set today by visiting the branch or calling 416-396-8890.


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein takes a bite of her mother’s lemon cake and realizes to her astonishment that she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake.  Rose’s gift reveals the desperation and despair her mother hides behind her seemingly cheerful disposition.  From that day on Rose becomes privy to the secrets of her family and is forced to confront her newfound fear of food. 


Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld

    As the Jews are being rounded up in World War II Ukraine, eleven-year-old Hugo’s life is turned upside down when his mother hides him with her childhood friend Mariana.  Mariana, a prostitute in a brothel, locks Hugo in her closet every night where he is forced to listen to Mariana at work.  Hugo uses dreams and fantasies about his family and friends to help him escape from his horrific situation.  While in hiding Hugo and Mariana form a unique bond and friendship that helps both of them escape the misery of their lives. 


Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley  

            Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a fondness for poison, is a heroine in the making.  When a series of mysterious and intriguing events occur on her family’s property culminating with a horrific murder, Flavia is there to experience it all.  After her father is accused of murder and arrested, Flavia takes it upon herself to free him.  What she ends up discovering is that although her father is innocent of murder, he is protecting Flavia and her two sisters from something much worse! 



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