A Military History of Canada / Edition 5

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Updated to 2007, including Canada’s war on terrorism.

Is Canada really “a peaceable kingdom” with “an unmilitary people”? Nonsense, says Desmond Morton. This is a country that has been shaped, divided, and transformed by war — there is no greater influence in Canadian history, recent or remote.

From the shrewd tactics of Canada’s First Nations to our troubled involvement in Somalia, from the Plains of Abraham to the deserts of Afghanistan, Morton examines our centuries-old relationship to war and its consequences. This updated edition also includes a new chapter on Canada’s place in the war on terrorism.

A Military History of Canada is an engaging and informative chronicle of Canada at war, from one of the country’s finest historians.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This book should be required reading for anyone interested in Canadian history.”
Kitchener-Waterloo Record

“Desmond Morton decisively dispels the notion that we are a nation without warriors. . . . [He] enables the reader to discover the inherent trends in Canada’s defence strategies, and the significant formative impact that the armed services have had on Canada.”
London Free Press

“A welcome and important addition to Canadian historical literature.”
Ottawa Citizen

The director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, Montreal, Morton (history, U. of Toronto) says that despite its reputation for being an unmilitary country, Canada has been shaped, divided, and transformed by war from the beginning. He begins his account by describing the tactics of the First Nations. The first edition was published in 1985; no other dates are noted. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From The Critics
A Military History Of Canada: From Champlain To Kosovo clearly debunks the myth that Canada is the peaceable kingdom of an unmilitary peoples. In fact, Canada and Canadians have been "shaped, divided, and transformed" by war, that war has been one of the great and primal influences in Canadian history from its native peoples before the coming of the Europeans down to the present day. Desmond Morton has a knack for writing solid history with the flair of a dramatist as he surveys the role of the military in native society, how the French and English colonies were focused on war and revolved around military societies, how the young nation faced its most decisive moments of growth when it had to quell internal rebellion, and when it sent soldiers off to fight overseas in two World Wars and a host of United Nations "police actions" and "peacekeeper" missions. A Military History Of Canada is comprehensive, informative, and an essential addition to any military studies or Canadian history collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780771064814
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 8/7/2007
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

A professor emeritus of history from the University of Toronto, Desmond Morton was also founding director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada. He is the author of forty books on Canadian history, a lecturer at the Canadian Forces Staff College, and a frequent media commentator. He lives in Montreal.

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Read an Excerpt

9/12, 2001

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, Captain Mike Jellinek of the Canadian navy took command of the watch at the subterranean headquarters of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, near Colorado Springs. By American law, NORAD still looked outward, not inward, chiefly at former Cold War enemies, evidence to its critics of military preoccupations outdated more than a decade after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. An airliner hijacking was reported near Boston, in NORAD’s northeastern sector. Local jet fighters had been scrambled. Jellinek phoned NORAD’s commander. Could he react? Yes. Before the first hijacked airliner tore into the World Trade Center in New York, Jellinek had fighters vectored on its heading. If passengers on the fourth airliner had not fought their captors and crashed into a Pennsylvania field, NORAD interceptors would have met them over Washington. A Canadian had launched Operation Noble Eagle. Could anyone have saved the three thousand who would die? It was not a question NORAD had to answer.

It ordered every civilian aircraft out of North American skies. Combat air patrols swept over every major city. Non-conforming aircraft would be destroyed. Canadian airports filled with diverted international flights; communities took in marooned strangers without a second thought. Rallying his shocked and frightened country, President George W. Bush declared an unlimited war on terror. Any nation that did not wholeheartedly back the United States in this war would be treated as an enemy. Meeting in an emergency session on Wednesday, September 12, NATO representatives dealt for the first time in their sixty-two-year history with the proposition that had originally created the organization: an attack on one member was an attack on all.

That same morning, September 12, Canadians awoke to learn that the United States had slammed its borders shut, stopping four-fifths of Canada’s foreign trade, eliminating 43 per cent of its gross domestic product. This was an economic disaster on the scale of two simultaneous Great Depressions. Huge columns of trucks snaked back from major border crossings. Border cities, economies built on just-in-time deliveries, ground to a halt. By noon, cities farther away felt the crunch. Much that followed in Canada reflected the 9/12 crisis.

Canada had gone to war in 1914 because the British Empire had declared war. British Canadians, at least, responded as British patriots. That experience persuaded W. L. Mackenzie King and most other
Canadians that next time “Parliament would decide.” In 1939 and 1950, Canada’s Parliament had decided on war. It would do so again in 2001, but this time most Canadians understood that the price for neutrality was unacceptable. Canada’s 1988 decision to link its trade as well as its defences to its hugely powerful neighbour left the Chrétien government no choice but to reassure President Bush that Canada would do all it could to back the American war. Many countries echoed that pledge; few had Canada’s practical obligation to respect it.

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