on March 12, 2015
I'd be surprised to learn there was any, other, serious competitor for the title of best book on its topic-- a thorough examination of the role of Canadian infantry in World War I. My only reservation is that, as an institutional historian, the author seems a little inclined to the view that the generals knew what they were doing and all the sacrifice was ultimately worth it. The generals didn't-- read Cook's own volume 2 to see how they often abandoned the winning strategies they had so painfully learned in order to yet again throw troops into hopeless situations-- and the consequences of that war: the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, the collapse of the German economy, the rise of Hitler, and the Holocaust certainly do not justify any suggestion that the sacrifice of so many lives was somehow worth it anything. (Also, hints that British PM Lloyd George was a decent man must be balanced against that man's subsequent role in the attempt to partition Turkey., but that's off-topic.) This is an excellent book for learning what the Canadian troops endured in the first part of WWI, and the same praise applies to volume Two's portrayal of the second part of that war-- although, in reading that 2nd volume, the extent of the waste of human life does become nauseating.
on December 26, 2012
I read a lot of military history, and I've come to know that many military historians are BORING writers. Pierre Berton is great, but Tim Cook is maybe better; equally readable while not as rah-rah-rah. This book - and its equally excellent sequel - break the mold. This book is a well-written, brilliantly researched account of a neglected history. Cook doesn't just talk battles, he talks people, lives and society in the trenches. Don't be put off by the length; it's worth your time.