CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004
Stan Sauerwein recounts the incredible life story of an "unsung national hero." Joe Boyle left his home in Woodstock, Ontario, in 1885 when he was 17. In his search for adventure, he joined the crew of a ship heading to India and survived many storms at sea. This was just the beginning of many exciting experiences. Back on land, he proved himself to be a jack-of-all-trades and became not only a boxing promoter, but he also led an expedition to blaze a trail to the Klondike over the White Pass. His shrewd business sense earned him the nickname "King of the Klondike."
When World War I started, he was 46 and too old to serve in the military, but he paid for and organized "Boyle's Battery," an outfit of 50 men for overseas service. He also became an advisor on the operation of Russian railways. His involvement in the war included almost unbelievable acts of daring and courage. Not only did he transport the Romanian crown jewels to safety, but he also became a spy for the Allies. His romance with Romania's Queen Marie is also explored.
Excerpts from letters, diaries, the Dawson Daily News, and military reports add to the authenticity of the book. Four black and white photographs complement the text. One is from Boyle's Klondike years, and he is pictured with his friend, "Swiftriver Bill Gates." A 1918 photograph shows Boyle recovering from a stroke, with the same steely-eyed determination.
This action-packed biography reads like an adventure story. Boyle is portrayed as a charismatic character and great leader but also as a man with faults. His work for the relief of Romania's war-displaced and starving earned him the Romanian Order of the Crown and the moniker "Saviour of Romania." But he is little known in Canada, and as the epilogue states, "It took 60 years before the Royal Canadian Legion in Joe's hometown of Woodstock repatriated the hero's body on April 20, 1983."
A good addition to public and school libraries.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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