Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years

Article excerpt

Susan Armstrong-Reid and David Murray, Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), xiv + 482pp. Cased. £42. ISBN 9780802093219.

Although this is clearly an academic text that derives from Susan Armstrong-Reid's doctoral thesis for the University of Toronto, it is much more than an academic treatise on international organisations. The book captures some personal accounts of Canadians who worked for UNRRA (known as UNRRAIDS) and some poignant moments in history. Accounts of relief workers entering concentration camps for the first time never become trivial and are dealt with here with important emphasis and the right prose. Clearly there has been an immense amount of work looking at private papers to cover not only the administration of UNRRA, but also the fieldwork of nurses, particularly in Germany and China. I would have liked to see more on Italy, but the access to personal records may have been less in this area.

It may be churlish of me to point out an oddity that appears on the dust jacket of this book, but the comment that the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration 'was the first international organization to be established after the Second World War' is misleading. The authors refer consistently to the post-war nature of the work of UNRRA, an organisation that was effectively established in liberated areas when the war had ended in these areas, but a long time before the end of the Second World War. …

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