- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Canada (May 28 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307361446
- ISBN-13: 978-0307361448
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.9 x 23.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 558 g
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #203,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation Hardcover – May 28 2013
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“A wonderful and seamless popular history full of colourful characters, intrigue and political backstabbing of the first order. Though there is no secret as to how the book ends...he deftly adds enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages.... Boyko’s accomplished narrative is precisely the kind of popular history that deserves a wide audience.”
“A thrilling, near-theatrical look at the years leading up to Confederation.... The authoritative narration is clear, precise, and entirely enjoyable for non-scholars. The book presents a startlingly unfamiliar and ominously dangerous period in Canadian-American relations.... It’s the birth of Canada in all its glory and muck.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Boyko has spun a compelling narrative. Better still, it’s supported by just the right measure of academic rigour.”
—Winnipeg Free Press
“In the middle of the nineteenth century, Canada was at a risk never matched before or since. After threatening invasion during the Civil War, the United States looked northwards after it was won to fulfill its Manifest Destiny. Historian John Boyko tells this story in Blood and Daring. He does so by recounting the stories of six ‘guides.’ Some are famous like Sir John A. Macdonald, and his principal opponent William Seward, Secretary of State and an ardent annexationist. Others are little known, such as escaped slave John Anderson who used Canadian law to avoid expatriation, and Sarah Edmonds, one of forty thousand Canadians to join the fight with the North or South. With verve and passion and impeccable research, Boyko makes this vital story come alive.”
—Richard Gwyn, award-winning author of John A. and Nation Maker
“The American Civil War involved more of the North American continent than the Union and the Confederacy. Forty thousand Canadians fought in Union armies, Confederate agents operated in Canadian provinces, and the Canadian-American border was the scene of skirmishes that threatened to escalate into a larger conflict. In this lively and eye-opening book, John Boyko shows how the war and its aftermath not only gave the United States a new birth of freedom; it also gave birth to the new nation of Canada.”
—James M. McPherson, Princeton University’s Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
About the Author
John Boyko is the author of 4 previous books, including the critically acclaimed Bennett: The Rebel Who Challenged and Changed a Nation and Last Steps to Freedom: The Evolution of Canadian Racism. He is a teacher and administrator at Lakefield College School, and an op-ed contributor to newspapers across Canada.
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There is quite a lot of interesting details about the Lincoln assassination; some that I had never read about before, and also quite a bit about the American Fenians and their attempted invasions of Canada, and the Canadian branch of the Fenians, called Hibernians ( who I had never heard of before), culminating in the murder of Irish-Canadian parliamentarian (and close friend of MacDonald) D'Arcy McGee, April 7, 1868. Hibernian Patrick Whelan was convicted and hanged for the murder.
Much space is allotted (wasted) to the ongoing dispute between Britain and the U.S. called the Alabama claims; after one of the American vessels captured by the British navy.
All in all some interesting information and stories, mostly about the American Civil War; though the parts about confederation and the political arguments and discussions leading up to it is well done. Yet; the subtitle of the book is quite misleading "How Canada Fought the America Civil War and Forged a Nation" is more like "how Canada played interference and manipulated various states, north and south, and the fear of annexation that eventually drove them to create their own loose coalition of Provinces. This is a short summary of the American Civil War, and a very short summary of the Canadian attitude and minimal interference in that dispute. There are better history books on either side.
Boyko is too clever to simply give a chronological accounting of what was happening in what was then known as British North America during the Civil War era. He makes his account much more interesting by wrapping the story of the wartime relationship between the two peoples by weaving in accounts of six interesting contemporary figures whose lives were engrossed in that relationship. These include John Anderson, a fugitive slave at the center of an important and pivotal legal proceeding in Canada over the issue of whether runaway slaves would be returned from Canada, an issue that heated up cross-border political tension. William Seward, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State was a man whose vision of manifest destiny included a dream of annexing Canada to the United States. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a woman who served in the Union Army disguised as a man, and who was among the tens of thousands of Canadians who joined one of the two warring armies. Jacob Thompson was a southerner ensconced in Canada who tried to organize attacks on the north, some of which were more successful than others. Canadian political leaders John A. Macdonald (who would become Canada's first Prime Minister) and George Brown showed remarkable foresight and leadership in first realizing the necessity of unity among the British colonies in Canada, and then in working together to create a new nation, in spite of being bitter political adversaries. Around the stories of each of these fascinating subjects, Boyko tells the story of the Civil War and its aftermath not only as it unfolded on the battlefield, but also about the crucial issues and occurrences involving British North America which affected the course and outcome of the conflict.
Many books have been written about the war and its many aspects, and yet Boyko is able to offer a new perspective and tell us things about this time that are rarely mentioned, if ever, by other chroniclers of the Civil War. These include the trial of John Anderson, the St. Albans raid and the fate of the raiders, Confederate espionage operations centered in Canada, the number of Canadians who participated in the conflict, the American designs on British North America, Fenian raids on Canada from the US, and the huge impact that fear of American takeover played in bringing about Canadian Confederation.
The combination of the author's literary ability and the fresh and unique perspective on the common historic subjects of the Civil War and the birth of Canada combine to make this an exceptional book, among the best, if not the best work of history from 2013. I keep asking myself, why did I wait so long to get around to reading this? The stories told in this book deserve a Ken Burns style miniseries. John Boyko has established himself to be in a class with such wonderful historians as Doris Kearns Goodwin or H. W. Brands. This is a must read for history geeks, but regular folks will also find it very enjoyable reading.
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