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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  834 Ratings  ·  61 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.

How could an ar
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Published December 22nd 2010 by Anchor Canada (first published 1986)
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Mikey B.
Nov 14, 2015 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
Bernie Charbonneau
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Canadian Must Read
I had the pleasure this Remembrance Day to listen to a Great War Veteran at my local legion and that got me thinking of how naïve I am to the history of this world conflict. Oh sure, I know some of the basics but I challenged myself to learn more of this period in history considering that we are celebrating the 100 years of battles involved. Being Canadian, Vimy by this renowned Canadian author seemed like the obvious place to start.
I had heard over and over that Vimy, The battle of Arras, was
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
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jerome Lengkeek
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2013 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
Tanis Nikkel
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Gabriele Wills
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Todd Downey
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
James Christensen
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written & compelling recounting of the WW1 battle at Vimy Ridge which the Canadians took in less than a day w/ 50,000 troops (lost 11,000). The reason for the success was drilling of platoons (a new concept) so that each member knew each of the other's duties, each knew of their specific objective as well as the overall battle plan - the youngest private felt free to guestion the commander. Advancing troops were preceeded by a whithering barrage of artillery & machine gun spray, all ...more
Christopher Chambers
This was a book club choice by our token Canadian and complements my reading of The First Day On The Somme, 1 July 1916 and represents my second foray into military history.

What do they write about when they write about war? Well, pretty much everything of course. Berton is clearly interested in what Vimy meant and means to Canada (writing in 1986) and a strong vein of nationhood and nation-forming runs through his book. But that is not allowed to dominate - allowing access to non-Canadians and
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Kerr
Dec 03, 2015 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
Gregory Klages
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rik Brooymans
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant book in the Berton canon. If you are in any way interested in Canadian history, military history or WWI, this has to be a must-read. Berton's anecdotal style tracks and relates a grand historical event in an easy to read, digestible format that conveys the scale and horror of the assault that, some say, defined and crystallised the idea of Canada as a nation.

As a side note, this book should also be a must-read for anyone carrying the misconception of war as a glorious and honou
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Maurice Tougas
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fred Dameron
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful tale of a nation coming of age. Berton does ask was it worth it? The answer being no but such are myths made of. In the U.S. it's Valley Forge and Trenton, France, the Bastille, England the Glorious Fourth and Trafalgar and in Canada it's Vimy. How it was done is a masterpiece of detail and new thought. Berton tells the story with humor, a historians attention to detail, and personnel stories and remembrances. A truly good read.
Terrance Kutney
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 18, 2013 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.
Todd Kman
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Darlene Stericker
A compelling protrayal of life in the trenches and on the battlefield. Reading this book honours the men who served. So many details about the logistics of mounting a battle! It is not an idealistic look at Canadians at war which adds to its reality. A superb book.
Daniel Kukwa
Aug 13, 2014 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.
Kathleen McRae
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
E.R. Yatscoff
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amazing recounting of a pinnacle event in Canadian history.
Even better having just visited the site and the memorial with my family and young teen girls.
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. :)
Richie de Almeida
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
What do you get when you combine extensive research with good storytelling? Pierre Berton, of course.
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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
  • A Rifleman Went to War
  • Company of adventurers
  • No Man's Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion 1917
  • In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
  • Somme
  • The Eastern Front 1914-1917
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War
  • The World Crisis, 1911-1918
  • 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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