This book is a 2013 revised edition of the original, now containing a full chapter on the Canadian missions in Afghanistan, to complete the story of Canadian soldiers under fire since 1900.
The book deals with a subject which has not often been covered before from the perspective of the Canadian military - the question of what is "courage in battle," examining how bravery was shown by soldiers in the Canadian army from the South African War in 1900 to the end of the Afghan combat mission in 2011. Many of these courageous soldiers have been forgotten and this book is one way of keeping their memories alive - such as that of Corporal William Knisley who, isolated on a lonely South African hill in 1901, held off the enemy until he was killed; and Captain Oliver Mowat who died holding back a Bolshevik advance in the lonely snow-covered woods of North Russia in 1918; and Sergeant Les Dixon who was one of only two men awarded the Military Medal with two bars in the Second World War.
The book does not proceed by presenting a large collection of citations but analyzes the meaning of courage using a wide variety of sources that include, to the extent practical, memoirs by Canadian soldiers. In addition, each chapter attempts to show how courage was affected by changes in weapons technology in that era. Finally, each chapter describes the development of the British system of honours and awards in the related time period and how it affected awards made to Canadian soldiers - the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal; and more recently the Star of Military Valour and the Medal of Military Valour awarded in Afghanistan. As a result, this book is in effect the most complete history yet of gallantry awards to Canadians. With the first of the new Canadian decorations of military valour awarded in 2007, this era of British awards has ended and a new one begun. The book concludes with an analysis of the decorations for military valour that were awarded for the combat mission in Afghanistan