Review – A Nation in Conflict: Canada and the Two World Wars by Andrew Iarocci and Jeffrey Keshen

This is a book which is really only secondarily about war. Rather, it is predominantly focused on the social and cultural effects, and attitudes which rippled through the Canadian population throughout the course of the First and Second World Wars. There have been many books written about the conduct of the wars, and this was a interesting break from the usual for me.

As an Australian, I was interested to see the war from one of the other ‘small time’ players among the allies, who also happened to be a member of the commonwealth. I think the authors did a nice job of blending the story of what was happening with the war in with the conflicts which were occurring on the home front.

The action is covered in moderate detail in chapters divided up between the air, sea and land war. But I don’t think that people looking to read this book should come expecting detailed descriptions of Canadian involvement in certain actions. These were more descriptions of flashpoints, or drawing the story back to the effects of life for civilians.

It is not without its flaws however. The book has a tendency to try to draw too many parallels between the two world wars, and there were times when the “compare and contrast” style got a bit hard to follow.

Nevertheless, as a political and social history book, A Nation in Conflict is certainly an interesting read. What it sets out to do, it achieves – for the most part – with a fair degree of success, and does not have any pretenses to cover in the same level of detail the actual war part of the war, which has been dealt with by other authors.

I would like to thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

4/5 stars

p.s. Incidentally, people looking for books more focused on Canadians in action during the wars could do worse than Mark Zuehlke’s excellent series of books which cover particular battles which predominantly featured Canadian units, or focus on Canadian units within greater battles.

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