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Passchendaele: Canada's Triumph and Tragedy on the Fields of Flanders [Hardcover]

Norman Leach
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

Sept. 15 2008

This fully-illustrated, easily-accessible, account of the battle of Passchendaele presents the background and details of Canada's coming of age in The Great War.

During WWI, the battle for the tiny Belgium town Passchendaele was one of the most significant tests of Canadian courage and expertise. British Commander-in-Chief General Douglas Haig had devised one of the most controversial stratagems of the entire war: Allied forces would attack headlong into the heavily fortified German entrenchments, capture the town of Passchendaele and its highlands, and drive toward the coast to destroy German submarine bases.

General Arthur Currie's Canadian Corps was called to the front for this attack. After their victories at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, the Canadians had earned the nickname "storm troopers" for, like a storm, they could not be stopped. Even for the battle-hardened Canadians, Passchendaele was a living hell. Many drowned in the mud before ever seeing the enemy. Others died from deadly chlorine gas, and others from artillery shells that rained down in numbers over 175 per square metre.

The Canadians seized Passchendaele, succeeding where all others had failed, and displaying high standards of leadership, staff work and training.The Corps had suffered 16,000 casualties; nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to acknowledge the extraordinary heroism. Though the actual value of the campaign is debated to this day, one thing is certain: Canadians had been tested against the worst horrors of the Great War, and they had proven their valour.



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Product Description

From the Author

I have always been fascinated by Canadian history. As a kid travelling with my parents, I forced the entire car to stop at every museum along the road ­no matter how big or how small.

I am not interested in writing the great tomes about which battalion moved up when. I tell the true stories of the officers and men soldiers who have been lost to time. My work is their lives, their sacrifices and their success and failures.

I have written about the men in the shell holes of Passchendaele to the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. Each time, I feel the men and women who have given their lives for our country looking over my shoulder. They seem to be saying "Please get it right, we deserve at least that."

Today I speak around the world on Canadian military history, and am a consultant on historical movies and documentaries. I am a senior volunteer with both the Military Museums and Lougheed House in Calgary, am the Managing Editor of "Honour Magazine" and lecture at many colleges and Universities. For that kid who stopped at every museum it can't get any better.

About the Author

Norman Leach is a historian, freelance writer and professional speaker from Calgary, Alberta. He graduated with a degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Manitoba, and he now gives speeches around the world on Canadian military history.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most enjoyable read! Sept. 21 2008
Format:Hardcover
I shared this wonderful book with a WWII veteran friend and watched as he devoured the book in one sitting. He declared it "a most enjoyable read" and said while not ever meeting anyone who'd been involved in this particular battle, he'd always known about the Passchendaele conflict.
The book brought him right back to the stories he'd always heard concerning the particular horrors of The Great War. He found the book very compelling in the telling of the filthy conditions soldiers were subjected to, maybe more so than WWII he thought, and was very sympathetic to the suffering these soldiers experienced.
He was also struck by the wonderful format of the book, it's pictorial telling of the story which he said kept him turning the pages. It's clean and concise presentation was easy to follow and he thought it was very well researched. As a member of the 6th Canadian Bomber Command, he felt lucky to have managed his war experience in better conditions than the soldiers who fought through the mud of Passchendeale.

As for myself, I'm a typical baby-boomer that has only a cursory knowledge of WWI and finding this little gem of a book has made me realize there are probably many untold stories of heroic Canadians in war situations.
Thank you for this marvelous story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passchendaele - A Compelling Read Oct. 11 2008
Format:Hardcover
It was with great anticipation that I purchased and read Passchendaele. The compelling story of how Canada came of age was superbly written by Mr. Leach. As the history of WW 1 and specifically this part the war is virtually unknown to most Canadians, Mr. Leach makes this part of Canadian history come alive. We can almost taste and feel how our soldiers lived in the muck and grime.

This book was very difficult to put down. I would highly recommend that anyone with the slightest interest in history read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enhancing Canada's memory of a major battle Sept. 29 2008
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Leach's book, though intended for young adult readers, will inform adults as well about this 1917 battle in which the Canadian Corps played a major part. This work is profusely illustrated with modern and contemporary photos and tightly crafted. The author was a consultant in the making of the film "Passchendaele" released this fall in Canada.

Len Shurtleff
The Western Front Association
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian history is not boring Sept. 28 2008
Format:Hardcover
I very much enjoyed the recent book Passchendaele by Norman Leach. It is not an standard military history tome but rather an accessible survey of the events leading up to and during the Battle of Passendaele.This book would serve as a good introduction to anyone who is interested in understanding Canada's role in the "Great War" but also would appeal to readers with some knowledge of Canada's substantial contribution to the Allied military effort.
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