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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History


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Second World War
Government and the Military

Civilian and Military Leadership

Biographies, autobiographies and memoirs enhance our understanding of Canada's participation in the Second World War. Critical biographies of senior politicians, bureaucrats and military leaders do much to explain Canadian wartime policies -- political, economic and military. Because some individuals, such as A.G.L. McNaughton, Maurice Pope and Georges Vanier, were active both as general officers and in the political and diplomatic spheres, biographical treatments of both the military and civilian leaders are grouped together here.

Bercuson, David J. -- True patriot : the life of Brooke Claxton, 1899-1960. -- Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1993. -- 363 p.

  • Minister of National Health and Welfare, 1944-1946

Bothwell, Robert ; Kilbourn, William. -- C.D. Howe : a biography. -- Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1979. -- 397 p.

  • As Minister of Munitions and Supply, Howe bore enormous responsibilities for the industrial mobilization of Canada

Burns, E.L.M. -- General mud : memoirs of two world wars. -- Toronto : Clarke, Irwin, 1970. -- xii, 254 p.

  • Commanded 5th Canadian Armoured Division and 1st Canadian Corps in Italy, 1944

English, John. -- Shadow of heaven : the life of Lester Pearson. -- Volume one : 1897-1948. -- Toronto : Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1989. -- P. 203-298

  • A diplomat at Canada House in London, 1935-1941, and at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, 1942-1945, Pearson became Canadian Ambassador to Washington in January 1945 and an important figure in the birth of the United Nations

Foster, Tony. -- Meeting of generals. -- Toronto : Methuen, 1986. -- 559 p.

  • A double biography of the author's father, Major General H.W. Foster, commander of 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1944 and 1st Canadian Infantry Division, 1944-1945, and Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer, commanding 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitlerjugend)

Graham, Dominick. -- The price of command : a biography of General Guy Simonds. -- Toronto : Stoddart, 1993. -- 345 p.

  • A laudatory biography of Field Marshal Montgomery's favourite corps commander

Graham, Howard. -- Citizen and soldier : the memoirs of Lieutenant-General Howard Graham. -- Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1987. -- 304 p.

  • Brigade commander in Sicily and one of the few non-permanent force, non-Royal Military College graduates among the general officers

Granatstein, J.L. -- The generals : the Canadian Army's senior commanders in the Second World War. -- Toronto : Stoddart, 1993. -- 370 p.

  • The Generals and The Ottawa Men are arguably Granatstein's best works

  • The Generals emphasizes the senior officers' strategic and policy contributions rather than their operational achievements

_____. -- The Ottawa men : the civil service mandarins, 1935-1957. -- Toronto : Oxford Univ. Press, 1982. -- 333 p.

  • Reprinted with a new introd: Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1998

  • This series of essays on senior bureaucrats shows much of the development of government policy during the war

Heeney, Arnold. -- The things that are Caesar's : memoirs of a Canadian public servant. -- Edited by Brian D. Heeney. -- Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1972. -- P. 54-90

  • Heeney was the first secretary to the Cabinet, 1940-1949

Kitching, George. -- Mud and green fields : the memoirs of Major General George Kitching. -- Langley, B.C. : Battleline Books, 1986. -- 329 p. -- (Canadians at war series)

  • Kitching commanded 4th Canadian Armoured Division in Normandy until fired by Guy Simonds

Massey, Vincent. -- What's past is prologue : the memoirs of the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, C.H. -- Toronto : Macmillan, 1963. -- P. 278-444

  • Vincent Massey was Canadian High Commissioner in London throughout the war

Mayne, Richard Oliver. -- "A political execution : expediency and the firing of Vice Admiral Percy W. Nelles, 1943-44". -- The American review of Canadian studies. -- Vol. 29, no. 4 (Winter 1999). -- P. 557-592

  • Nelles was Chief of the Naval Staff

Pearson, Lester B. -- Mike : the memoirs of the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, PC, CC, OM, OBE, MA, LLD. -- Volume I : 1897-1948. -- Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1972. -- P. 119-278

Pope, Maurice A. -- Soldiers and politicians : the memoirs of Lt.-Gen. Maurice A. Pope, C.B., M.C. -- [S.l.] : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1962. -- 462 p.

  • Pope served throughout the war at the strategic and political level: at National Defence Headquarters, 1937-1940; at Canadian Military Headquarters, London, 1940-1941; as Chairman, Canadian Joint Staff Mission, Washington, 1942-1944 and as Military Staff Officer to the Prime Minister, 1944-1945

[Power, Charles Gavan]. -- A party politician : the memoirs of Chubby Power. -- Edited by Norman Ward. -- Toronto : Macmillan, 1966. -- 419 p.

  • Postmaster General, 1939-1940 and Minister of National Defence for Air, 1940-1944

Roy, R.H. -- For most conspicuous bravery : a biography of Major-General George R. Pearkes, V.C., through two world wars. -- Vancouver : Univ. of British Columbia Press, 1977. -- 388 p.

  • Commanded the 1st Canadian Infantry Division in Britain, 1940-1942, then returned to Canada to command Pacific Command, 1942-1945

  • His support of conscription led him to resign and enter politics as a Conservative

* Speaight, Robert. -- Vanier : soldier, diplomat and governor general. -- Toronto : Collins, 1970. -- 488 p. -- Also published in French under the title: Georges P. Vanier : soldat, diplomate et gouverneur général

  • Canadian minister to France, 1939-1940; Secretary of the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defence, 1940-1942; Canadian minister to the Allied governments in exile in Britain, 1942-1944; and Canadian Ambassador to France, 1944-1953

Swettenham, John. -- McNaughton. -- Volume 2 : 1939-1943. -- Volume 3 : 1944-1966. -- Toronto : Ryerson Press, 1969

  • Authoritative biography of the soldier-scientist who commanded 1st Canadian Army in Britain and was briefly Minister of National Defence

Vokes, Chris ; Maclean, John P. -- Vokes : my story. -- Ottawa : Gallery Books, 1985. -- 233 p.

  • Vokes commanded 1st Canadian Infantry Division in Italy, 1943-1944 and 4th Canadian Armoured Division in North-West Europe, 1944-1945

Warrior chiefs : perspectives on senior Canadian military leaders. --Edited by Bernd Horn and Stephen Harris. -- Toronto : Dundurn Press, 2001. -- 365 p. Includes an analysis of the generalship of individual twentieth-century commanders

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