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The Horrors of the Great War - Part II,
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This review is from: Shock Troops Canadians Fighting The Great War 1917-18 (Hardcover)
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.