Phil, Queen's Square | March 3, 2021
Tim Cook is an academic who works as the Great War Historian at the Canadian War Museum, and he is also a prolific award-winning author, who is convinced that eyewitness accounts will make people want to read history. Cook has two new books coming out this year: Fight for History: 75 years of forgetting, remembering, and remaking Canada's Second World War explores how Canadians have talked about war in the past, and how our understanding of the past has evolved and changed. Canada 1919: a nation shaped by war examines the year following the end of the Great War and the fractures and tensions that existed in Canada, told through the survivors. These two books follow last year’s Secret History of Soldiers: how Canadians survived the Great War. Anyone looking to remember the terrible cost of war could do little better than read these books.
Historians with a “Cooksian” approach include The Fire and the Darkness: The bombing of Dresden, 1945 by Sinclair McKay who explores the firebombing of Dresden using first hand reports of survivors. A House in the Mountains: the women who liberated Italy from fascism by Caroline Moorehead continues her excellent documentation of the impact regular people had on the outcome of the war. Village of Secrets: defying the Nazis in Vichy France and A Bold and Dangerous Family: the remarkable story of an Italian mother, her sons, and their fight against fascism are two recent and excellent books.
Of course, historians are still writing the grand overview books as well. Nazi Menace: Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and the road to war by Benjamin Hett draws on newly released sources to create a sweeping history of the time. Howard Blum’s Night of the Assassins: the untold story of Hitler's plot to kill FDR, Churchill, and Stalin explores Hitler’s plans to assassinate the world leaders who opposed him.
Erik Larson’s Splendid and the Vile: a saga of Churchill, family, and defiance during the Blitz specifically explores the Challenges of Churchill during the Blitz and the impact the war had on his immediate family and circle of advisors.