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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  493 ratings  ·  33 reviews

One chill Easter dawn in 1917, a blizzard blowing in their faces, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in France went over the top of a muddy scarp knows as Vimy Ridge. Within hours, they held in their grasp what had eluded both British and French armies in over two years of fighting: they had seized the best-defended German bastion on the Western Front.

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Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Pen & Sword Books (first published 1986)
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Alaska and Back by Dorothy May MercerHow to Be a Canadian by Will FergusonSomething Fierce by Carmen AguirreThe Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFedeVimy by Pierre Berton
Canadian Nonfiction
5th out of 137 books — 67 voters
Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo DallaireVimy by Pierre BertonAnd No Birds Sang by Farley MowatQuebec in Question by Marcel RiouxKlondike by Pierre Berton
Canadian History
2nd out of 91 books — 29 voters

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Community Reviews

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I've always felt drawn to and particularly affected by anything that is related to the First World War, out of some mixture of horror and fascination, so this is where I began my sampling of Pierre Berton's oeuvre. What stuns me is that the preparations that the Canadians made in the months leading up to the assault seem so simple and so commonsense in retrospect that it's easy to (not entirely fairly) wonder why the British just couldn't see it, like looking back at Scott's ill-fated push to th ...more
Vimy Ridge in north France is owned by the government of Canada. Canada's gleaming white, towering memorial to its dead of World War I is the stunning feature of Vimy today. Vimy Ridge, not a soaring height, was taken and entrenched by German soldiers in the first month of World War I - August, 1914. It remained a part of the German entrenchments until the day after Easter, April 9, 1917. That Easter Monday morning at Vimy began with a barrage by 983 artillery pieces and 150 machine guns. This w ...more
Berton does an excellent job portraying "The Battle of Vimy Ridge" ... the only instance of the Allies breaking through the German lines in the Great War ... by the Canadians. They accomplished this by employing novel tactics, new technology and extensive training. Canadians believe that their country "came of age" at Vimy Ridge.

Berton goes into great detail in describing the planning for the battle (about 2/3rds of the book) and the battle itself. He interviewed many veterans of the battle and
In my opinion, this book cements Pierre Berton into his position as one of Canada's best modern-age writers. His research is incredible, and as the book goes along and we follow the stories of these Canadians who are training to give their British leaders their first victory of the war, one gets a sense of the incredible tragedies and massive loss of lives that modern war inflicts, even though many may think this war wasn't as bad. For some time I have been fascinated at the suffering and brave ...more
Jerome Lengkeek
Highly recommnded read to any who are interested in Canadian history. The Battle at Vimy Ridge is often referenced by Canadians as the birthplace of our nationhood, the moment when we truly came together as an independent nation of our colonial motherland. Berton explores this sentiment by working through the stories of individual Canadian soldiers' experiences to come to a fascinating conclusion. Beautifully written, moving, educational, and thought provoking. My only caveat is that it does not ...more
Tanis Nikkel
I think every Canadian should take the time to read this book. War has always been taught with dates and facts but with this book you now see it through the eyes of the men who fought and died. You can visualize the mud, the constant barrage of the shelling, the smells, the blood and the sheer horror of every day in those trenches. As almost every veteran will say, they can never describe what it was like, you had to be there. This book gives us only a glimpse into this horror and I give thanks ...more
This book was well written. It was very detailed (sometimes gruesomely so, but that's war) but it didn't bog you down with unnecessary information. Honestly, what can I say? Wow. I've always had a certain respect for veterans, but after reading this book, it's gone to a whole new level. These Canadian men (some were so young, could you even call them men?) were so amazing. The majority of them had no idea what they were in for, but they bravely fought for their country. This book made me proud t ...more
Fascinating period in Canadian history. Great companion piece when seeing the war memorial in France.
As usual, Pierre prefers to use twenty words when one or two would be enough. :)
Terrance Kutney
Another excellent book from Pierre Berton. There is a sense of urgency in his narrative of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and I couldn't stop reading. I am always impressed with the way that Berton blends the personal experiences of those involved with the historical narrative. Berton makes history come alive.
Daniel Kukwa
As perfect an encapsulation of one particular time period as you are likely to read. Tragedy and heroism, hand-in-hand, the zenith of Pierre Burton's storytelling talent on display. The final chapter, although 30 years at the time of this reading, is still powerful, profound, and relevant.
Gabriele Wills
Pierre Berton certainly had a way of making history engaging. By giving a detailed account of the sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefield, often through the eyes of individuals, the reader feels immersed in this event that brought all the Canadian troops together and helped to forge a nation.
Kathleen McRae
As usual Pierre Burton has done his homework and although I found the book very detailed re the politics and status of the officers it was also a bit tedious to read in spots.The refreshing honesty that I have enjoyed before in Burton's books was present and in all Vimy was a good read.
"...the country has never overcome their loss in the First War; they were a different breed... Who can say what these future entrepreneurs, lost in the appalling trench warfare of 1914-18, would have wrought if they had lived?" - Author's Note, Pierre Berton.
Todd Downey
My favorite history book and easily in my top 5 favorite books. Berton makes you feel as though you're in the trenches in Vimy and climbing the ridge to take it from the Germans.
Feb 25, 2013 Tina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: WWI History Buffs
I always found the battle of Vimy Ridge to be one of the most interesting of WWI. The Somme was just so depressing, for example, but Vimy has a spark of life in it. I may be biased, because I'm Canadian, but if you know me, you'll know I'm not very patriotic. I just find WWI so interesting on many levels - it was the end of traditional warfare, it altered so much in ways of technology and culture, and it was just so tragic. All those young men dead because of a collection of stupid factors. WWI ...more
Frances Fuller
The military leaders in every other army should have been tried as war criminals at the end of WWI. Their total lack of concern for their soldiers resulted in mass murder on both sides. This book was able to capture the mud, rats, and trench warfare aspects in mind-numbing detail. Americans always seems to think they win all wars by themselves, it is refreshing to see that the Canadians were way ahead of the game played by the rest of the armies during this great war to "end all wars." I'm glad ...more
Derek Lendrum
Another great book by Pierre Berton

I enjoyed this book a lot. If you like to read about history and the struggles of war then you should read this.
Every Canadian should read this book. The classic and official book about Vimy Ridge, in my opinion.
Bookcase Jim
A real page turner of a history book. I used it as the main source in an essay entitled "The Battle of Vimy Ridge: Forging the Canadian Identity". I am still convinced that it was after the Great War that the Canadian nation was truly born and that Vimy had everything to do with it.
Pierre Berton was one of the 20th century's greatest historians, and he paints the period and characters artfully almost as though he's writing a novel. This should be required reading in Canada.
Drawn from unpublished personal accounts and interviews, Berton tells the experience of four Canadian divisions in the battle of Vimy. How an army of civilians played a pivotal role in the events that transpired.

When the Germans heard the Canadians were coming, they quailed. Civilians they may have been, but these were frontiersmen - tough, inexhaustible, independent and dead shots.
good book. canadians were tough bunch, they had an advantage in the freezing trenches because of life back in canada. far from dry history book, recommended read about the forgotten canadians in ww1.
Big fan of Pierre Burton books. This is one of my favourites. I have a soft spot for young boys going off to war and if you have to rate cruelty in war, WWI has to be one of the cruelest. Hit me hard when I went to see Vimy when in Paris. A sad yet inspiring part of Canadian history.
Berton tells excellent, fact-based tales in an emotional and journalistic style - as befits one of Canada's best known writers and broadcasters. Obviously there's a strong Canadian perspective here, but the human stories behind the tragedy of the trenches has universal appeal.
Interesting to read a book written by a Canadian specifically for a Canadian readership to highlight the valor of Canadian troops in WW1. Well written, good maps, but no pictures (at least in this edition).
I enjoyed this book immensely. This was the first Pierre Berton I ever read and I can't remember why I wanted to read it but I am glad I did.
An excellent book for those interested in the facts and personal stories of this momentous time in Canadian history.
Sep 30, 2012 David marked it as to-read
I'll wait to give my rating as this was a book I read ages ago and have wanted to re-read for some time!
Shattering... the reviewer quoted on the back cover said it best: "A book to make us proud, to make us weep".
fascinating dramatic historical novel. Interesting details and humanizes the personalities involved
Kevin Wilkinson
Excellent read on Vimy. Like all his books, lots of detail.
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CanLit Challenge: Vimy by Pierre Berton, #52 4 8 Nov 25, 2011 06:50AM  
  • And No Birds Sang
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Curse Of The Narrows
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Forgotten Voices Of The Great War
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
  • Gallipoli
  • The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War
  • A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front
  • Somme
  • No Man's Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War
  • The Eastern Front 1914-1917
  • Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike
  • Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy
  • Eye-Deep In Hell: Trench Warfare In World War I
  • The World Crisis, 1911-1918
From narrative histories and popular culture, to picture and coffee table books to anthologies, to stories for children to readable, historical works for youth, many of his books are now Canadian classics.

Born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the
More about Pierre Berton...
The Secret World of Og Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899 The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

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