• By: OLM Staff

The Fight for History

Title: The Fight for History: 75 Years of forgetting, remembering, and remaking Canada’s second world war
By: Tim Cook
Publisher: Allen Lane
ISBN: 9780735238336

A masterful telling of the way the Second World War has been remembered, forgotten, and remade by Canadians over seventy-five years.

The Second World War shaped modern Canada. It led to the country’s emergence as a middle power on the world stage; the rise of the welfare state; industrialization, urbanization, and population growth. More than a million veterans returned to a changed country and then helped to transform it. Together, those who served had fought a necessary war against Hitler’s evil regime. And yet, strangely, the war was soon pushed aside in the new Canada. We failed to tell our story.

The Fight for History examines how Canadians framed and reframed the war experience over time. Just as the importance of the battle of Vimy Ridge to Canadians rose, fell, and rose again over 100-year period, the meaning of Canada’s Second World War followed a similar pattern. But the Second World War’s relevance to Canada led to conflict between veterans and others in society—more so than in the previous war—as well as a more rapid diminishment of its significance.

By the end of the 20th century, Canada’s experiences in the war were largely framed as a series of disasters. Canadians seemed to want to talk only of the defeats at Hong Kong and Dieppe or the racially-driven policy of the forced relocation of Japanese Canadians. There was little discussion of Canada’s crucial role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the success of its armies in Italy, on D-Day, and in liberating Europe. No other victorious nation underwent this bizarre reframing of the war, remaking victories into defeats.

The Fight for History offers a more balanced portrait of Canada’s contribution in the global conflict. It depicts how Canada has talked about the war in the past, how we tried to bury it, and how the memory of it was restored.

Writing with verve and insight, author Tim Cook brings his renowned storytelling skills to this utterly original and compelling work of military and intellectual history.

About the author:

Tim Cook is an historian at the Canadian War Museum. His eleven books have won many awards, including the J.W. Dafoe Prize for At the Sharp End (2008) and for Vimy (2018). Shock Troops won the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literacy Non-Fiction. In 2013, Cook received the Pierre Berton Award for popularizing Canadian history. He is also the two-time winner of the C.P. Stacey prize for the most distinguished book in Canadian military history, and a three-time winner of the Ottawa Book Award. For his contributions to Canadian history, he was named a member of the Royal Society of Canada and the Order of Canada. He lives in Ottawa with his family.