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Shock Troops Canadians Fighting The Great War 1917-18 [Hardcover]

Tim Cook
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 30 2008 0670067350 978-0670067350
Shock Troops follows the Canadian fighting forces during the titanic battles of Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, and the Hundred Days campaign. Through the eyes of the soldiers who fought and died in the trenches on the Western Front, and based on newly uncovered Canadian, British, and German archival sources, Cook builds on Volume I of his national bestseller, At the Sharp End. The Canadian fighting forces never lost a battle during the final 2 years of the war, and although they paid a terrible price in the killing fields of the Great War, they were indeed, as British Prime Minister David Lloyd George exclaimed, the shock troops of the Empire.

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About the Author

TIM COOK is the Great War historian at the Canadian War Museum, as well as an adjunct professor at Carleton University. His books have won numerous awards, including the 2008 J.W. Dafoe Prize for At the Sharp End and the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction for Shock Troops. In 2013, he received the Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history. He lives in Ottawa with his family.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Horrors of the Great War - Part II Oct. 12 2009
By George Poirier TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this second instalment on his two-volume masterpiece on the Canadians (infantry) in World War I, the author picks up where he left off at the end of "At the Sharp End" (Volume one). Here, the horrors experienced by the soldiers on the Western Front continue to be recounted with just as much gory, heart-wrenching detail as in the first volume. However, in this case, the major battles in which the Canadian Corps undertook were resounding victories - although very costly ones. As before, the life of the trench warrior is the main focus, but the high command is also well covered. What I found particularly fascinating in this volume were the last few chapters in which the last hours and minutes of the war are discussed, as well as the events after the armistice: the soldiers' feelings at not being sent home immediately and the way they expressed their discontent, the eventual incorporation of thousands of returning soldiers into Canadian society, feelings towards the Canadian high command (Currie), the tabulation of the casualty statistics, the adequacy of pensions for disabled soldiers and their families, and how the Great war has been viewed over the decades until the present. As in the first volume, the writing style is clear, authoritative, accessible and always very engaging. The detailing of the various activities of the Canadian Corps's different military units can be a bit overwhelming at times; but the stories of some of the individual selfless sacrifices, astounding acts of heroism and the ultimate accomplishments of the Corps as a whole can leave the reader in awe. Once again, this is a book that can be read and appreciated by absolutely anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WW1 Understood Oct. 23 2009
Tim Cook retains his reputation as one of Canada's leading WW1 historians.
While recounting the course of the battles that Canada was involved in, he also keeps our interest by telling the intimate stories of the men who wore the Maple leaf. He resists the urge to have us believe that Canada was the sole reason for the allies success and is fair in his criticism and praise of the military and political characters in this sad drama.
This is a very readable book and one that should be in the library of every Canadian. Can't wait to see what he does with the next book on Currie and Hughes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shock Troops - Tim Cook March 21 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not a professional book reviewer but as my Father's family was totaly involved in WW 1 I have read anything I can get my hands on relative to the Canadian involvement in that war. Tim Cook's treatment, in my opinion, is the best written to date. His research and subsequent publication is unbelievably excellent. Mr Cook's first volume "At The Sharp End", deserves the same comment. Anyone looking for a very readable detailed historical account of the Canadians in World War 1 cannot do better than these two volumes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read! A Canadian classic. May 4 2015
By Brad W
Tim Cook's two books, Shock Troops and the Sharp End are probably his masterpieces, although he is still a fairly young man I think. They are highly readable with him juggling different stories of the ordinary men in the trenches, the junior officers and the senior officers--and he does it seamlessly. He writes well enough that this can be said to be a piece of classic literature. Granted, it won't be read by too many outside of Canada so it won't be famous, but it ought to be. World War One threw a lot of colourful characters onto the pages of Canadian history and Cook takes full advantage of this fact. I would call it rollicking good fun, but it is well paced and has a serious subject. But some of the characters like Currie and Hughes and their relationship are golden. They started out as friends with Hughes as the senior person, then as Currie rose higher they became deadly enemies. One of Cook's other books deals with this more fully. It wouldn't fit even into a two book set. In any case it was a wonderful and enlightening read. My grandfather and his brother were in that war and I do like to read about WW 1, just so I can understand my beloved grandfather better. It has given me a greater appreciation of him as a man than the grampa I knew as a child.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Canadian forces became the sharp point of the Allied effort in Europe, and were used by the British as Shock Troops, hence the title. Sometimes they were badly handled by British Commanders who regarded them as cannon fodder, but by 1917 they had risen to being regarded as the finest soldiers on the Western Front, and were being directed by their own commanders. Sadly this volume includes Second and Third Battles of Ypres, the Third of which is often called Passchendaele, and was the bloodiest campaign the Canadians ever fought in. The ground was waterlogged, trenches became chin or deeper canals, and the German artillery had spent 4 years zeroing in on the Allied positions. The Germans were broken finally because of the healthier better equipped and by that time better fed troops, but it was a tragedy for both sides.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read Volume One and Volume Two together. March 12 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Volume One and Volume Two of this thoroughly-researched history book really need to be read together. For example, Volume One shows some lessons learned very painfully by leaders of Canadian troops in World War I, then Volume Two shows how willing they apparently were to squander those lessons in pursuit of career success. This war was such a horrible event-- even the current mess in the Middle East is fairly directly attributable to it, as are such more obviously direct consequences as the Bolshevik Revolution, the German economic collapse of the 1920s, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Holocaust-- that no attempt to justify the sacrifices the war entailed could possibly be successful, but author Cook, within the more limited parameters of his chosen topic, gives a good try.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensively Canadian
Without doubt, the most comprehensive and personal presentation to date of Canada's involvement and the influence of her front-line soldiers through the Great War . . . Read more
Published 18 months ago by jay schroeder
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sensation. For Canadians, World War I Is No Longer 'The Forgotten...
Now that this sensational book has been written, Canadians will no longer be able to call World War I, which broke out in 1914, 'The Forgotten War'. Read more
Published 21 months ago by T. Virany
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Present for my Brother
This was a great gift. Unique and worth the money.

Ordered it one day and it was here in no time.
Published on Dec 28 2013 by Brenda Howie
5.0 out of 5 stars On-Time, Perfect Condition
I have yet to start this book, but its precursor is amazing. I actually cannot begin to go over how grateful I am that this arrived on time.
Published on Sept. 11 2013 by Sarah Toop
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise for Tim Cook
Tim Cook is one of the foremost historians writing on the Great War, a writer whose work I value. I'm glad to own this account, which sits next to his equally fine work, AT THE... Read more
Published on May 14 2013 by RobC
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seasoned Fighting Force
It didn't take me long to get into the second volume of Cook's history of Canada's role in WW I after having enjoyed the first one. Read more
Published on April 1 2010 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Story telling
If only one series of books is to be read about Canadians in World War 1, this is IT! Vivid story telling and great details.
Published on Dec 9 2009 by Lori Davenport
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Account of the Great War.
I still have some pages left, so I have not read the conclusion. This book covers every single aspect of a soldiers life in the Great War. Read more
Published on June 15 2009 by Patrick Sullivan
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