The Book Shelf – July 31
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Jul 31, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

The Book Shelf – July 31

Stratford Gazette

Canada in World War I: Outstanding Victories Create a Nation,

by Gordon Clarke,

48 pages.

@ SPL:  J 940.40971 Cla

It was supposed to be over “in only a few months, by Christmas”. Instead, World War I - which began a hundred years ago, in August 1914 - lasted more than four years. Millions died. Canada, the rest of the world and the course of human history were changed forever by this long, devastating war.

In his book, author Gordon Clarke summarizes the key battles and offensives of World War I and the contribution of Canada’s troops, sailors and pilots.

Given that Canada had a much smaller population than the other Allied nations, the contribution of our country was significant and it gave Canada an important presence on the world stage.

With the inclusion of first-hand accounts, brief biographies, photographs, maps and a glossary, Clarke’s book is an easy-to-understand, accurate source of information on a pivotal world event from a Canadian perspective.

** Recommended for ages eight to 12.

Hold the OXO! A Teenage Soldier Writes Home,

by Marion Fargey Brooker,

141 pages.

@ SPL:  J 940.48171

The subtitle of this book is revealing. Many of the soldiers who fought in World War I (and also in World War II) were just teenagers. Marion Brooker’s uncle, Jim Fargey (the writer of these letters to family members at home) was one of them. At 17 years of age, he volunteered to leave his small Manitoba farming community to serve overseas with the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

In his letters – especially those to his parents - Jim rarely mentioned the true hardships that he and other soldiers faced. The death, destruction and the utter horror of the battlefield – and the cold, the mud, the rats and lice of the trenches – were glossed over. Instead, he wrote of more “normal” things such as the weather and training the war horses. He often asked about the crops at home.

The text, poems and photos which accompany Jim’s letters reveal more of the true picture of what it must have been for a soldier fighting in the Great War.  Life at the Western Front was harsh at best. The shelling and danger were constant. Food was in short supply, as was proper sanitation. Infection and disease were rampant, killing many soldiers.

Wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Jim died soon afterwards at only 18 years of age. His letters, which form the basis of this poignant and informative book, have been kept and treasured by his family.

** Recommended for ages 10 and up.

– Sally  Hengeveld, librarian

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