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 known 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.
How could an ar...more
Page 255 (my book)
The decomposing body of a German, uncovered by the diggers, hung over the back wall [of the trench]. To Moir’s astonishment and disgust a new machine gunner...began tearing the body out with his bare hands to see if there were any souvenirs in the corpse’s pockets. The Canadians were known for this incorrigible habit... “The British fight for glory, the Canadians for souvenirs.” How thin, Moir thought to himself, is the veneer of civilization.
The scenes of death on all ...more
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 ...more
Vimy, however, is your book if you want a thoroughly human take on what it was like for the soldiers of the Dominion who fought and won and lost on that terrible morning, and who did in a few hours what the English and French could not after two years of trying -- beat the Germans and take Vimy Ridge.
It's Berton the historian/storyteller at his ...more
Ironically, Vimy is so well-laden with interesting anecdotes and useful information, that as a ‘trained historian’ I wish Berton had used more ...more
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.
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.
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