________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005


Canadian Peacekeepers: Ten Stories of Valour in War-Torn Countries. (Great Canadian Stories).

Norman S. Leach.
Edmonton, AB: Folklore Publishing, 2005.
142 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-894864-36-0.

Subject Headings:
Peacekeeping forces-Canada-Biography.
Canada. Canadian Armed Forces-Biography.
Peacekeeping forces-Canada-History.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

** /4


Canada's Lester B. Pearson led the negotiations that established the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in November 1956. Pearson won a Nobel Prize for convincing the world that putting neutral military forces between the two opposing sides would be a way to ensure that the negotiated ceasefire held. It was a good idea but was missing an important ingredient-without the right leadership, the peacekeeping plan was doomed to failure.

Once again, the Canadian government turned to Lieutenant General "Tommy" Burns. Tommy was available, and with his UNTSO experience in both the politics and logistical problems of the region, he was the perfect choice. Speaking about the early days of the mission and how well Pearson and Burns worked together, J. King Gordon, public relations officer on the UNEFF staff, said, "Pearson's reputation for peacekeeping could not have been gained without this partnership."


Canadian Peacekeepers is divided into nine chapters covering Canadian peacekeeping missions in Egypt, Cyprus, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia and the careers of prominent Canadian peacekeepers. The latter include former Prime Minister L.B. Pearson and Generals Lewis Mackenzie and Roméo Dallaire.

     Since the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the publicity surrounding the UN mission there, General Roméo Dallaire has become Canada's best-known peacekeeper to the present generation of Canadians. Older readers will likely remember the contribution of Pearson who suggested the creation of a peacekeeping force at the time of the Suez Crisis in 1956. Their stories and those of the other noteworthy Canadians involved in peacekeeping are told with conviction. Reading them should instill a sense of pride in young readers.

     Because Canadian Peacekeepers is intended to be general recreational reading, it has few teaching aids and no illustrations, additions that would have increased its classroom value. While there are some book references and websites relevant to peacekeeping, there is neither an index nor a glossary. Neither are there any maps. While students can easily check the locations of the places mentioned in an atlas or via the Internet, maps in the text would have been a definite asset. The book also assumes a relatively sophisticated knowledge of world events that many adults probably do not have. Would 14-year-olds understand what is meant by the Cold War or why a UN mission was needed in Kashmir? Would they know who Archduke Ferdinand was and who the Huns were? A glossary or brief explanatory footnotes would have made the book more useful.

     There are two questionable statements in Canadian Peacekeepers. Leach suggests that the Liberal Party lost the 1957 election because the Liberal government was "widely blamed for not standing by Britain and France - the mother countries - during the Suez Crisis." While this may have been a factor in the government's defeat, history books usually claim that the government's arrogance, and particularly that of Minister of Trade and Commerce, C. D. Howe, during the "Pipeline Debate" of 1956, was the main reason. In addition, while France is indeed one of Canada's "mother countries" ties between France and her colony were severed in 1759 with the defeat of the Marquis de Montcalm by General Wolfe when New France became a British colony. By 1957 Canadians of French ancestry did not regard France with nearly the same affection as many English Canadians regarded Britain whose ties with Canada remained strong until recently.

     Author, Norman Leach graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in Strategic Studies. Before Canadian Peacekeepers, he wrote Great Military Leaders. His writing style is suitable for the intended audience. Apart from the oversight of not explaining the importance of terms like the Cold War, the text is easy to read.


Thomas F. Chambers is a retired college teacher living in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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