Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
Because war has been a near constant part of human history, so too has it been a topic to write about through the ages. These works, fiction and non-fiction, offer various perspectives on past conflicts, tell cautionary tales, and present readers with a great deal to learn and think about.
This week, in commemoration of Remembrance Day, Nancy Therrien and I will each talk about a book written by a Canadian author with war as the main event.
Nancy Therrien, Programming & Outreach Coordinator: The non-fiction title, Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War, by award-winning journalist Carol Off, is about a Canadian peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia. The problem was that Canadian peacekeepers in Medak Pocket, Croatia, found no peace to keep back in September 1993.
The publisher’s description in the book is as follows: For seven days, faced with the ethnic cleansing of Serb civilians by Croatian forces, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) took a stand, engaged the forces of ethnic cleansing in a deadly firefight and drove them from the area under United Nations protection. The soldiers should have returned home as heroes. Instead, they arrived under a cloud of suspicion and silence.
In Medak Pocket, members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry did exactly the job they were trained — and ordered — to do. When attacked by the Croat army they returned fire and fought back valiantly to protect Serbian civilians and to save the UN mandate in Croatia. Then they confronted the horrors of the offensive’s aftermath — the annihilation by the Croat army of Serbian villages. The Canadians searched for survivors. There were none.
The soldiers came home haunted by these atrocities, but in the wake of the Somalia affair, Canada had no time for soldiers’ stories of the horrific compromises of battle — the peacekeepers were silenced. In time, the dark secrets of Medak’s horrors drove many of these soldiers to despair, to homelessness and even suicide.
The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the story of Canada’s Secret War is a story that needs to be heard, and Carol Off gives it justice.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: In Come from Away, a novel by Genevieve Graham, it is the fall of 1939. Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the home front and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumors swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store. Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamored by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be. He is someone else entirely–someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she first thought. Come from Away is a mesmerizing story set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
That’s it for this week’s Library Moments. Please take a moment this week to reflect on the horrors of war but also the beauty of peace and how lucky we are to live where we do. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
*Originally aired in November 2018 on 100.9 Canoe FM.