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Marching As to War: Canada's Turbulent Years, 1899-1953 Paperback – Sep 24 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada; 1 edition (Sept. 24 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385258194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385258197
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 4.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #81,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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It was a half-century of unprecedented upheaval and, according to Pierre Berton, the most remarkable period of Canada's history. Between 1899 and 1953, three generations of young Canadians marched off to distant battlefields to fight in four different wars, none of their own making. Berton, Canada's most prolific historian and himself a veteran of World War II, chronicles these years in his 47th book, Marching As to War. Canadians spent nearly 30 per cent of this period at war, fighting on the sun-baked African veldt, the fields of Flanders, the beaches of Dieppe, and the Korean highlands. The half-century also saw Canada transformed from an agricultural nation beholden to the British Empire to an industrial powerhouse closely linked to the United States.

Berton sparks Marching As to War to life with his trademark colourful anecdotes and characters. Among them is Lt.-Col. William Dillon Otter, commander of the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Boer War. The incredibly insecure Otter, whose previous command experiences included two embarrassing battlefield defeats, led his men into a charge against hidden Boer sharpshooters who mowed down the Canadian line. Things got even worse during World War I, Berton says, when a "lunatic" named Sam Hughs was appointed Canadian minister of the militia. "He was the strangest, most maddening politician in all Canadian parliamentary history, and certainly the most disastrous," writes Berton.

Berton's underlying theme is that three of the four wars he chronicles were unnecessary and unjust. Canadians got involved, he says, because of duplicitous media propaganda campaigns and pressure from the superpower of the day. Their sacrifices are a lesson for future generations, he believes. "In the act of remembering," Berton was quoted saying after Marching As to War came out, "we should learn from the past so we can handle the future." --Alex Roslin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Pierre Berton entertained me royally. . . . Berton uses newspaper reports, memoirs, diaries and personal reminiscences with panache, leading us over vast historical terrain through the eyes of protagonists who were there.” -- Modris Eksteins, The Globe and Mail

“Berton has written the Canadian story with style and grace. . . . scintillating.” -- J. L. Granatstein

“A superb testament to Berton’s prowess as a writer and an historian.” -- Calgary Herald

“Chock full of keen observation and interesting detail; a glance back at war from one of the country’s most eminent popular historians.” -- The London Free Press

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Format: Hardcover
I have read many of Pierre Berton's books, and this one is typical Berton in many ways. He always attempts to take a look at events through a different slant. This book is no different. It both describes Canada's development and maturation of a nation through its participation in four separate international conflicts, and it also uses those conflicts as a measure of the nation itself. The two word wars were the major interest points in this book. Of particular significance is when Berton smashes Canada's storm trooper image in the second world war, that it had acquired in WWI. He effectively discredits both the armed forces and political leadership during WWII, revealling Mackenzie King's once revered "Not necessarily conscription but conscription if necessary" stance as what it truly was, political indecision that resulted in the needless loss of soldier's lives. The book starts and ends slowly, with the chapters on the Boer and Korean wars not being as compelling. Overall, the book is very informative read. It loses a star in that it is not as entertaining or as smooth flowing as some of Berton's previous works, particular his two on the War of 1812 and the Arctic Grail
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Format: Hardcover
Of course, most Americans dont know much about Canada at all. What we have forgotten is the reputation that Canada had in the early 20th Century as a, believe it or not, military nation. Pierre Berton, the dean of Canadian popular historians (I highly recommend is books on the War of 1812 and the Canadian Pacific Railway) has written a book that, by tracing the way Canada fought and approached the wars it fought in the 20th Century (give or take a couple of years), shows how a raw, immigrant, frontier society, with significant social and ethnic divisions, can come to maturity and take a constructive place in world affairs.
The story starts with the Boer War, and English Canada's enthusiam for the empire, when Sir Wilfred Laurier could say that Canada stands "ready, aye ready" to play its role in defending the empire. It leads to a lot of young men getting killed and tension between English and French-speaking Canada. Quebec is far less excited about sending young men to die for the empire it seems than the rest of Canada. The Boer war leads to some questioning of war and support of the empire, but not much, paving the way for Canada's participation in World War I.
This was a much greater question and a larger commitment by the nation. Canada, Australia and New Zealand quickly joined in the war against Germany, and began to organize armies and send troops to Europe almost immediately. The extent of Canadian (and Australian) participation in the war is one of the forgotten aspects, at least in the U.S. Canadian troops quickly gained a fearsome reputation on the Western Front, and by 1918 were, along with the Australians, considered the shocktroops of the British Army. If an offensive were being planned, you could be sure that the Canadians and the Australians would be used.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent overview of the history of Canada's involvement in wars from the Boer war to Korea. It looks at the leading personalities and public attitudes in Canada with material from contemporary sources and diaries plus critiques of our generals and politicians. Very readable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Was advised to read this before heading to Europe to tour the battlefields. Great book. Now I will know the real story behind the Canadians at war.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pierre Berton book! Excellent!
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