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Stacey, C.P. and Barbara M. Wilson.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1987. 198pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-8020-5757-8. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Charles Ottosen

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

The Half-Million is the story of the Canadian invasion of Britain from 1939 to 1946. Written by C.P. Stacey and Barbara M. Wilson, it deals with the Canadian soldier stationed in England during World War [I. Stacey is particularly qualified to write this history, as he was there serving with the Canadian military headquarters in London from 1940 to 1945. He has also written other books dealing with Canada in this time period, in particular The Canadian Army, 1939-1945 (The King's Printer, 1948), which won the Governor General's Award for Non-fiction.

The Half-Million is not a military history but rather a social history of the Canadian soldier in England during World War II. The book focuses on the social life and events of the Canadian soldiers and their views on events during this time.

The authors open with a brief summary of the military activities. Then they discuss the initial response of the Canadian soldier to Britain and the British, and vice versa. The rest of the book examines various aspects of this relationship. For example, there is one chapter about the relationship between the Canadian soldier and the British soldier, one on the Canadian soldier and British women, and a chapter on Canadian soldiers in trouble with British law.

The treatment by the authors is good. They have based much of their research on soldiers' diaries and British war censors reports; this research means we are getting information straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak). The layout is logical and easy to use. The writing style is scholarly but readable. There are plenty of good photographs throughout the book (one of the highlights). An index and chapter references make the book useful to the serious reader.

This is not your typical military book on World War II. Although military buffs should enjoy the book, the reader will get a very different perspective on Canada's involvement in World War II.

Recommended for larger high school libraries and all public libraries.

Charles Ottosen, Airdrie Public Library, Airdrie, Alta.
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