Extremely well written, multi-layered, with great material. This is a book that begged to be written and Tim Cook does it justice. It should be required reading by an Canadian, a part of our heritage that should not be forgotten, yet generally is.
World War I reverberates still nearly a century after its start. It was a pivotal event of the last century and though it seems so long ago now its impact on our lives is still felt. Indeed, I knew several veterans of the Great War, a man gassed at Ypres, a chap who was a staff officer in the rear and several others. As well my grandmother often told me about what it was like on the home front.
This book tells about Canada’s contribution to the war effort. Tim Cook tells us about the interfering and self-centred Sam Hughes who was Canada’s defence minister at the time. He recounts the story of the Ross rifle and the useless trenching tool – the one with the hole in the spade. It also tells us that long before Vimy Ridge the Canadian force was already forging a national identity.
As most chronicles of WWI do, this book talks about the squandering of men’s lives in a static war. How quickly death can come to the men doing ordinary things let alone in combat. Even though I have read numerous books about the war I can never understand how the men at the front put up with the conditions there: the mud, the wet, the noise of high explosive shells going off, rats and lice.
The book covers the first 2 years of the war and takes us to the battles of Ypres and the Somme among others and as its title suggests focuses on the Canadians and how they developed into a feared fighting force.
Well-written and fully researched this book adds to our knowledge of the war and is essential to anyone who is interested in WWI and Canada’s history.
at the sharp end
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