Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
Christ Church Cathedral414 Sparks Street
2:00pm

The Secret History of Soldiers

with Tim Cook
Hosted by CBC’s Laurence Wall

The Secret History of Soldiers

with Tim Cook
Hosted by CBC’s Laurence Wall
28
Sunday
Oct
2018
2:00pm
Christ Church Cathedral
414 Sparks Street
Tim Cook - Photo by Marie Louise Deruaz

Laurence Wall hosts a conversation with Tim Cook, Canada’s foremost military historian, on his portrayal of how soldiers found solace, distraction and entertainment to escape the horrors of the trenches during the Great War. 

 

There have been thousands of books on the Great War, and hundreds on Canada's part in the conflict, but most of these have focused on commanders, battles, strategy and tactics. Less attention has been paid to the daily lives of the combatants, how they coped with and endured the unimaginable conditions of what was then modern industrial warfare: the rain of shells, bullets, and chemical agents. The Secret History of Soldiers examines how those who managed to survive the horrific conditions of trench warfare on the Western Front found solace, relief, distraction and even entertainment. 

 

Over the years, both writers and historians have overlooked this aspect of soldiers’ lives, as there are no official histories or records. These tales come from the soldiers themselves, captured in letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts. The recollections and artifacts of more than five hundred soldiers form the basis of this book. They include such rare resources as trench art, postcards and even songsheets. 

 

Each piece of history is a reminder that these battles were fought by living, breathing human beings who, when they weren’t engaged in battle, needed escapist activities to counter the daily horrors of trench life. It is those eyewitnesses to the bloodshed and carnage who act as unique guides to the Great War. 

 

Books available for purchase at every event: Proceeds support our free children’s literacy programs.

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