ORDEAL BY FIRE: CANADA 1910-1945 by Ralph Allen


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In an appendix to Ordeal By Fire author Ralph Allen complains that Canadians have often attempted to prettify, clasify and censor a colorful history. Now with his study of Canada during the years 1910-45, he has shown how foolish such a stance can be, for under his hand that sprawling neighbor beyond Niagara comes cracklingly to life in what is probably the most candid and compact appraisal it has yet received. Though a long work, is always clear-cut: Allen knows his land, both in relation to the world outside and the shape of events within; his comments are crisp, his details telling. If it is an apologia, it is the best sort, one based on fact, a sharp sense of para-national influence and a keen love of heritage. Canada became in 1867 the first federal union in the British empire, but it was not until 1910 that her real independence and sovereign education began. And it began in a cries-cross of reaction and progression, of personalities and parties, political issues and social obfuscation, of conflicts at once bi-lingual and religious-all the entanglements, to be sure, the uninitiated would hardly have expected from peaceful, provincial Canada. It is to author Allen's credit that through this he steers so steady a course, covering the first stages of economic development, its hardships and hijinks, the land booms and market crashes, the general strike at Winnipeg, the rise of conservatives and isolationism, the Northern Railway, the Naval Question, the Army at Ypres and Verdun, at Normandy and Dieppe, along with the celebrated exploits of the RCAF. There are, too, trenchant portraits of Mackenzie King and Bennett, explosive ones of Sam Hughes and Mcighen, explanations of Canada's ambivalence with the League of Nations, her relations via America during the Depression when Roosevelt shone more dazzlingly there than in his own country, and considerations of the Chanak affair and the cultural growth of the Left. All in all, a notable and natty survey and a fine fifth volume in the Doubleday Canadian Series.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday