Curator’s Pick – October

Introducing: Curator’s Pick.

A new, monthly book feature where our Curator, Kathleen Powell reviews some great history selections from Merritt’s Mercantile Gift Shop.

This month: If you are looking for a couple of great reads in leading up to Remembrance Day in November, I recommend these two books by Canadian author Tim Cook. Both books make an effort to provide a human face to Canada’s participation in the First and Second World Wars.

The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Sir. Arthur Currie takes a microscope to the explosive relationship between these two powerful men making decisions for our troops in action in Europe during the First World War. For those not familiar with these two personalities, this book will take you on an intimate look at each of these personalities and how their dislike for each other would eventually play out in the public eye. This book provides an interesting look at how powerful men can influence public opinion and create reputations that have long-lasting repercussions. The “madman” – Sam Hughes – was well known to be unpredictable, incendiary, quick to be offended, and held a grudge. At the same time, his organization of the military machine at the start of the war can be said to have contributed to Canada’s quick response to the call to arms. The “butcher” – Arthur Currie – was one of Canada’s most brilliant military commanders. His understanding of the war and the needs of his men is a major factor in Canada’s successes on the Western Front. At the same time, Currie made decisions that would put many men in the line of fire and he would bear the brunt of the public anger over the loss of life in the last few months of the war. Additionally, he held a secret past that would haunt him into his retirement as he fought to clear his name.

Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King and Canada’s World Wars brings to life the story of Canada’s two wartime Prime Ministers – Sir Robert Laird Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Frequently war histories only provide a very cursory look at the leaders making the decisions behind the scenes and on the world stage. This book takes a closer look at these two men who guided the country in these turbulent times. Both of these Prime Ministers would be responsible for the welfare of the country throughout and after the conflicts as well as keeping the country afloat and in the fight. Tim Cook’s book provides readers with a focused look at these political leaders as they navigated world conflicts abroad and domestic challenges at home. Both of these books are really interesting and entertaining reads as you get a more personal look at all four of these men. I recommend them to anyone who wants to step outside of the typical military histories and meet the people behind the history. 🤓📚

Both are available from Merritt’s Mercantile while supplies last.

Madman and the Butcher: $28.00 + HST
Warlords: $24.00 + HST

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