Two-volume book will cover entire Second World War

Carleton history Prof. Tim Cook is working on a two-volume book about the history of the Second World War. (Photo submitted)

Digging through diaries and memoirs, Tim Cook has decided to bring Canadians’ stories to life in a two-volume book about their experiences during the Second World War.

“It’s an ambitious project that covers the entire Second World War,” says Cook, an adjunct research professor in Carleton’s Department of History.

Cook, who’s also an award-winning author and the director of research at the Canadian War Museum, is releasing the first volume in September 2014 entitled The Necessary War. The second volume, not yet titled, is scheduled to be released one year later.

“It’s fairly unique, and a complex story,” says Cook. “There are other books about aspects of the Second World War, but very few historians in the last several years have tried to pull it all together.”

He says the two-volume book will cover the war’s various battles – including the Battle of Dieppe and Invasion of Normandy – through the experiences of Canadian soldiers, airmen, sailors and nurses.

The Necessary War will also discuss how Canada became a prosperous and powerful country as a result of the war – and will include photographs and documents that have never been published.

“My approach to history has always been to focus on the men and women in terms of battle, and how these young Canadians coped and endured the terrible stress and strain of combat,” Cook says.

He adds that he wanted to call the first volume The Necessary War because it is often referred to as “the good war.”

“No war is good, but Canada was involved in horrendous fighting and Canadians believed it was necessary to stop Hitler’s genocidal regime,” Cook says.

He wanted to release the first volume to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Canada declaring war in 1939.

But in addition to the anniversary, Cook says it was time to tell the first-hand stories of millions of veterans – a number that is now down to about 100,000.

“The average age (of these veterans) is about 89 to 90 years-old, and it just seemed like the right time,” he says. “Many vets had never talked about their experience. It was too traumatic, and they were trying to forget.”

Cook has won literary awards for similar books covering the First World War, including At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914–1916 and Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917–1918.

He says he aims to write for both a public and academic audience, and hopes that his two-volume book makes an impact on Canadians.

“Canadians need to understand their past,” Cook says. “These were ordinary Canadians in extraordinary circumstances. They played a critical role in defeating Hitler’s evil regime, and these are important stories Canadians need to know.”

This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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