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DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN MILITARY HISTORY

Bercuson, David J. and J.L. Granatstein
Don Mills (Ont.), Oxford University Press, 1992. 248pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-19-540847-0. CIP


Grades 8 and up/Ages 13 and up

Reviewed by Brenda Reed

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


As a result of their prolific writing and their forays into the electronic media, professors Bercuson and Granatstein are two of Canada's most well known historians. Their prominence in the field of Canadian history is established and distinguished, and their names add considerable authority to this dictionary.

The preface to the book is largely an apology for the space limitations the authors found themselves working within. As they were limited to 1500 entries, many entries had to be left out, and those included are necessarily brief. Given the protests of the preface, the authors seem to have wanted to write a different book than their publisher wanted to publish. However, for a library that could use a compact, dependable dictionary of Canada's military history, this book serves the purpose.

The alphabetical entries are presented in double columns, with the entry heading in distinguishable bold print. The longest entries (on the two world wars) are three to four columns long. Other entries range from a one- to two-sentence identification or definition to several paragraphs. There are no illustrations, but this is a surprisingly pleasant book to browse through. The writing is succinct and clear, giving you just enough information to pique your interest. The authors often encourage you to turn to further information by recommending a book or two on the entry subject. These reading suggestions seem to have been added at the authors' discretion.

Browsing, though, will not be the main use of this book. It is a reference book, first and foremost, and although the authors note that they focused on the early twentieth century and the world wars, the book does cover our military history since Europeans arrived in what is now Canada. Most students encounter Canadian history somewhere in high school, and this text will provide them with easy access to well-written definitions of the events, places, issues and people involved in Canada's military past.

Entries range from the "French-Iroquois Wars" to "Convoys," "Bishop, William A very," "War Novels" and "Women, World War II." Appendices list Canada's prime ministers, ministers concerned with the defense department under various names, comparative ranks of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force, chiefs of the military forces, Victoria Cross and George Cross winners, and Axis submarine losses to Canadian forces. The book is well bound, and I highly recommend it to all school, public and academic libraries.


Brenda Reed is the librarian at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec
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