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4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  659 Ratings  ·  47 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 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

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 FergusonThe Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFedeSomething Fierce by Carmen AguirreVimy by Pierre Berton
Canadian Nonfiction
5th out of 153 books — 77 voters
Shake Hands with the Devil by Roméo DallaireVimy by Pierre BertonKlondike by Pierre BertonAnd No Birds Sang by Farley MowatThe Regiment by Farley Mowat
Canadian History
2nd out of 218 books — 37 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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Mikey B.
Nov 14, 2015 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somme Day 1

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.

Page 236
The scenes of death on all
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
Jerome Lengkeek
Oct 16, 2012 Jerome Lengkeek rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2013 Tanis Nikkel rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Todd Downey
Dec 27, 2013 Todd Downey rated it it was amazing
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.
May 12, 2009 Raymond rated it really liked it
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
Sep 14, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 01, 2016 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-1
A well-written popular history of the Canadian Army's successful assault on Vimy Ridge during the First World War in April 1917. This was the first attack by the Canadian Corps as an separate unit and, by in large, it was carried out with dispatch and professionalism. As time passed, the Canadians made a great deal of this assault, claiming that it helped define Canada as a nation, and later built an enormous memorial on the site of the battle. While the book traces the course of the battle, inc ...more
Oct 05, 2012 Leif rated it really liked it
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
Michael Kerr
Dec 03, 2015 Michael Kerr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, non-fiction, history
Berton, himself a Canadian icon, here delivers a moving (and occasionally gruesome) narrative history of the most significant battle - from Canada's point of view - of the "Great War." Still considered the milestone at which Canada reached a kind of independent maturity (in the same way that Gallipoli is thought of as Australia's defining moment), Vimy was the occasion where Canadians showed what they were made of. But Berton is not guilty of romanticizing the conflict. On the contrary, he prese ...more
Jun 02, 2014 Elvan rated it liked it
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
Jul 29, 2014 Terrance Kutney rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 29, 2009 Gabriele Wills rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, ww1
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
Mar 23, 2014 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 27, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...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.
Maurice Tougas
Apr 26, 2016 Maurice Tougas rated it really liked it
The late, great Canadian historian Pierre Berton details the WWI assault on Vimy Ridge, the first time Canadian forces — fighting as Canadians, not British subjects — united in battle. Vimy is not well known elsewhere, but it is seen as a pivotal moment in Canadian nationhood. Berton goes into extraordinary detail about the battle, which featured everything that was horrendous about First World War fighting. The 100th anniversary of Vimy is next year, and if you're the least bit interested in Ca ...more
Nov 12, 2015 JW rated it really liked it
Thoroughly Canadian in perspective, Vimy is not your book if you're looking for a balanced view of the events of this now-famous (only in Canada) battle.

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
Feb 25, 2013 Tina rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 30, 2009 Frances rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Gregory Klages
Apr 04, 2016 Gregory Klages rated it really liked it
Berton’s books are popular history, but certainly not only of interest to generalists. His historical works are generally short, pithy, focused on interesting events and character-driven. They certainly do not suffer from overdependency on theoretical jargon or post-modern self-reflection. Vimy, in particular, was a strong example of his work at its best.

Ironically, Vimy is so well-laden with interesting anecdotes and useful information, that as a ‘trained historian’ I wish Berton had used more
Todd Kman
Apr 10, 2015 Todd Kman rated it really liked it
I found the start a little slow however once the Canadian troops are in France the story was quite interesting. The quotes from letters, diaries, etc enhanced the store greatly.
For any patriotic Canadian it is a must read.
Jay Ranton
Jan 23, 2015 Jay Ranton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed this book for the historical Canadian content. Specifically how the government's role in sending troops under the British flag and how some fought that particular thing.
Made me proud to be a Canadian!!
E.R. Yatscoff
Apr 11, 2015 E.R. Yatscoff rated it it was amazing
This author should have taught history. He takes you into the trenches in a horrendous war. Such an engaging prose. Brutal imaging with smell and sound. Fantastic.
Feb 06, 2014 Jordan rated it it was amazing
Every Canadian should read this book. The classic and official book about Vimy Ridge, in my opinion.
Jim Milway
Jan 04, 2015 Jim Milway rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww1
I find most accounts of battles to be confusing. It's very difficult for the author to communicate so that I can follow the action. But with his prose and the appropriate use of maps, Berton kept me in the battle. His stories about the soldiers and the various vignettes during the battle pulled me through the book. And the account of the planning and training that went into Vimy indicated to me that this war could have been shorter and less bloody if the British and French had better military le ...more
Bookcase Jim
Oct 13, 2013 Bookcase Jim rated it really liked it
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.
Robert Parsons
Sep 18, 2015 Robert Parsons rated it really liked it
Well-written story of the pivotal Canadian WW1 battle.
Aug 08, 2008 Joshua rated it really liked it
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.
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CanLit Challenge: Vimy by Pierre Berton, #52 4 9 Nov 25, 2011 06:50AM  
  • At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1914-1916, Volume 1
  • And No Birds Sang
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Company of adventurers
  • A Rifleman Went to War
  • No Man's Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War
  • Somme
  • Curse Of The Narrows
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • The Eastern Front 1914-1917
  • The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War
  • Gallipoli
  • A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front
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
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