CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Morton, Desmond and Glenn Wright.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1987. 328pp, paper, ISBN 0-8020-5705-5 (cloth) $40.00, 0-8020-6634-8 (paper) $17.95. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Alfred L.F. Greenwood

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

On the 26th of July, 1936, ten thousand Canadian men and women stood in the shadows of the soaring twin shafts of the Vimy Memorial, erected in northern France to celebrate the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge. This pilgrimage of veterans marked not only the victory of Vimy and the winning of World War I, but also the winning of the veterans' second battle: two decades of conflict with officials, politicians and fellow veterans had forced the creation and reformation of systems to support the disabled and aging survivors of the Great War.

The authors of this excellent book have made a study in great depth and scope of the effects of World War I on the participants and their dependants on their return to civilian life. Canada had no experience in this. How she coped or did not cope with the myriad problems of the returning sick, blind, amputees and wounded in body and soul makes thoughtful reading. The flotsam and jetsam of previous wars fought by conscripted peasants depended on paternalism and charity. For the young and vigorous democracy with a citizen army, this was not good enough. Winning the Second Battle is the story of how the veterans of World War I had cause to celebrate their second victory in the pilgrimage of Vimy.

This book is a monumental study with twenty-four pages of illustrations, an extensive index, seventeen pages of bibliography, and a streamlined system of "quick-find" notes. Chapter headings are repeated on every right hand page. Eleven pages of statistics and graphs on wounds, disabilities, casualties, diseases, pensions and other relevant subjects form a learned but saddening commentary on that most futile and stupid of all man's enterprisesówar.

Desmond Morton is professor of history at the University of Toronto and principal of Erindale College. He is the author of Ministers and Generals: Politics and the Canadian Militia 1868 -1904 and numerous other books. Glenn Wright is a specialist in military and veterans' records with the Public Archives of Canada.

This book is highly recommended for the student of Canadian and/or military history.

Alfred L. F. Greenwood, Victoria, B.C.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works