Academic journal article Manitoba History

Vimy Ridge Recalled

Academic journal article Manitoba History

Vimy Ridge Recalled

Article excerpt

With the recent centenary of the iconic battle of Vimy Ridge on the radar of Canadians, a new book brings a fresh narrative to this event. Tim Cook's hefty book Vimy: The Battle and the Legend offers a contemporary perspective. The book seeks to answer the rhetorical question, why does Vimy matter to the nation? The cover asks, "How did a four-day battle at the midpoint of the Great War, a clash that had little strategic impact on the larger Allied war effort, become elevated to a national symbol of Canadian identity?"

Tim Cook's work, which is highly readable, won this year's award for the best new work on Canadian history from the J. W. Dafoe Foundation. It reflects deep and comprehensive use of material recently released in Canadian archives, and in particular letters from the soldiers and military support staff on the Front and at the battle. He also looks deeply into the site itself, the ridge that separated advancing German military might from Allied troops on the west. He delves deeply into the existing memorial, the national competition that attempted to capture the ache of massive loss of life that was felt across Canada and Newfoundland, the beauty and strength of the towering memorial in France that was chosen to represent the thousands killed there in the mud. It examines the political maneuvers and neglect that stalled its completion until its dedication by King Edward VIII in 1936, a full generation after the battle. …

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