________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 9 . . . . January 7, 2000

cover Of Luck and War: From Squeegee Kid to Bomber Pilot in World War II.

Les Morrison.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1999.
151 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 1-894263-16-2.

Subject Headings:
World War, 1939-1945-Aerial operations, Canadian.
World War, 1939-1945-Personal narratives, Canadian.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Alexander D. Gregor.

*** /4

These wartime reminiscences of an RCAF bomber pilot join a growing body of personal memoirs that are doing a very useful service in conveying the war experience from the perspective of the "ordinary" participant. As tends to be the case in such memoirs, little attempt is made (or realistically could be) to convey the broad background of events against which the individual story is played. Their value lies in their capacity to convey the experience and reaction of one person to the phenomenon of war. Though the book accordingly offers little systematic war history, the eclectic collection of anecdotes does not really require any substantial prior knowledge of that history in order to appreciate what the stories have to offer. The author is not, himself, unfamiliar, however, with the body of military history that has developed over the last several years; and he has little patience with those contemporary writers who have brought into question the competence and morality of the allied war effort. Indeed, the book, without undue chauvinism, seems intended. in part, to leave the reader with a sense of justified national pride.

Les Morrison proves to be a talented writer, and the many episodes he describes take on the quality almost of a war novel; and like a good historical novelist, he describes events through the eyes of someone who does not yet know the ultimate outcomes of the events of the moment, or of the war itself. Although the story is serious, Morrison does not take himself seriously, attributing his survival and success to luck and good colleagues .The story is sprinkled with good humour, and, on occasion, some not inappropriate saltiness of language.

The book begins with an engaging portrait of growing up in pre-wartime depression-era Canada and the extremely demanding routine of air force training (lessons from which the author feels contemporary society and education might benefit). For the educator, there are also some interesting observations about learners and teachers and their interrelationships.

In all, the book accomplishes its objectives admirably and can be appreciated with benefit by anyone from early teens on.


Alexander D. Gregor, a professor of educational history in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, is also a World War II history buff.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364