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Morton, Desmond.

Toronto, Grolier, c1983. 110pp, cloth, $10.93, ISBN 0-7172-1844-9. (Century of Canada series) CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Lois Hird

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Canada was a fledgling nation, but as Dr. Desmond Morton states in the introduction to Years of Conflict, the time between 1911 and 1921 was "one of the most difficult and exciting in Canadian history," During that time, one man, Sir Robert Borden, led the country, surviving a crucial election in 1917 and then forming a Union government. In 1912, Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town depicted innocence and prosperity in small-town Canada; within a decade, he wrote of the need for social reform, unemployment insurance and social assistance. Canadian soldiers had been to war, and shortly afterwards Canada experienced labour unrest and strikes. Leacock's Sunshine Sketches are used in the first chapter of Morion's careful examination of the era, while Leacock's assay calling for reform ends the look at the young nation.

According to Morton, as the prosperous times under Prime Minister Laurier faded, it was Borden who steered Canada through World War I, fighting his own battle for conscription, and dealing with on-going administrative and manpower problems of keeping Canadian troops overseas. Later, Morton argues, Borden saw his "quiet struggle for independence" become reality when Canada became a voting member of the League of Nations. Of the prime minister, Morton says: "Like other, greater men, he did not always know the right path but he never consciously stepped off it."

Without glorifying Canada's role in the war, Morton discusses every aspect of it. He details "the miserable murderous life of trench warfare," the battlefield strategies that succeeded and those that failed, and the types of military equipment. The issue of conscription fills a complete chapter. The home scene during the war and the subsequent strikes and growing government bureaucracy receive equal treatment.

This is an important history text intended for young adults. Pictures, maps and illustrations of period advertising enhance its value. Recommended for both public and school libraries.

Lois Hird, Calgary, Alta.
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