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Book Reviews

From Vimy to Victory: Canada’s Fight to the Finish in World War I

by Hugh Brewster

Veteran author Hugh Brewster has perfected the art of engaging young readers with history. In his latest in a series covering Canada’s wartime experiences, Brewster vividly describes our country’s significant contribution to the last hundred days of the First World War.

From Vimy to VictoryBrewster does not write about detailed strategies or military manoeuvres. His focus instead is on simple yet gripping stories from individuals, including officers and foot soldiers, many of whom won the Victoria Cross (several posthumously). The words of one man, Will Bird from Nova Scotia, appear several times; his observations provide a nice continuity as the narrative unfolds.

Though the book does not engage in deep analysis, it does present readers with questions to ponder. What would Canada have been like if a generation hadn’t been so denuded? Were the massive Canadian casualties in the last hundred days of the war worth it? While Brewster does not shy away from describing the violent aspects of war, including some of the terrible ways men died, he does not glorify or dwell on them. They are presented factually, in both words and images, leaving readers to grapple with the issue of what constitutes
justifiable violence.

The design resembles a scrapbook, with photos, artifacts, correspondence, pull quotes, and art accompanying crisp, clear writing. Some of the photos, such as one of a shell-shocked German soldier, are so arresting they require a pause to digest what you are seeing. Each double-page entry could be read independently or in random order, though most contain enough of a hint as to what comes next to encourage readers to turn the page. From Vimy to Victory is accessible and engrossing, a wonderful combination.