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


Canadian War Heroes: Ten Profiles in Courage. (Great Canadian Stories).

Giancarlo La Giorgia.
Edmonton, AB: Folklore Publishing, 2005.
143 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-894864-35-2.

Subject Headings:
Canada-History, Military.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

*** /4


As the brigade drew closer, to its objective, the Russians poured on the heat, mowing down rows of men and horses with incessant cannon and mortar fire. The front line thinned out, and the ground became littered with mangled corpses, some from being trampled by the charging cavalry as the survivors raced inexorably towards their destination. Allied soldiers in the surrounding vicinity, knowing full well that something had gone terribly awry, watched the action incredulously, gnashing their teeth. French General Pierre Bosquet best summed up the sentiment: "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre! C'est la folie!" ("It's magnificent, but it isn't war! It's madness!")

After facing10 minutes of point-blank bombardment, the Light Brigade finally made it past the vile row of Russian guns. Lieutenant-Colonel John Douglas led the 80 men that remained of the 11th Hussars, giving his men free reign to release their pent-up rage. Vengeance came crashing onto the fleeing Russian artillerymen like a mighty thunderbolt of British steel, leaving few survivors.

Canadian War Heroes has 10 chapters. Nine are about men and women with some connection to war. All are soldiers or airmen, except for Laura Secord who warned the British of an impending American attack during the War of 1812. Chapter 10 is about the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, a regiment with a history of heroism. The order of the chapters is puzzling. The Marquis de Montcalm, the commander of the French forces defeated by British General Wolfe in 1759, is the subject of Chapter 4, between Laura Secord and Alexander Roberts Dunn, who won a Victoria Cross because of his actions during the Crimean War (1854-1856). It would have made more sense to put Montcalm in Chapter 1 since historically he came before all of the other subjects in the book.

     Author, La Giorgia graduated from Concordia University. Since graduation he has worked on a number of film and television projects and as a freelance journalist. This is his first book.

     Canadian War Heroes is intended as recreational reading, but it is suitable for classroom work. It is written in a style that will arouse excitement and enthusiasm, not for war, but for the gallantry of those Canadians who participated in wars. All Canadians should know the history of soldiers like Isaac Brock and George Vanier and all the other heroes La Giorgia mentions. This book does an admirable job in introducing young readers to some of the most important figures in Canada's military past. It even mentions historical controversies such as that surrounding World War 1 flying ace, Billy Bishop.

     The only teaching aid in Canadian War Heroes is a very brief "Notes on Sources". This is a pity. The inclusion of an index and other references would have made it more useful in a classroom setting. The book also has no photographs or other illustrative matter.


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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