Saturday 2 November 2013

Book Review, Blood and Daring by John Boyko

While many people are civil war buffs, I really don't know much about the conflict. I know the Confederate south wanted to secede, went to war, were winning that war for awhile until the defeat at Gettysburg and went on to lose to Grant's army.

I also had no idea on how effect the civil war had on Canada, until I read Blood and Daring by John Boyko.

Blood and Daring will change our views not just of Canada''s relationship with the United States, but of the Civil War, Confederation and Canada itself. 

 In Blood and Daring, lauded historian John Boyko makes a compelling argument that Confederation occurred when and as it did largely because of the pressures of the Civil War. Many readers will be shocked by Canada''s deep connection to the war--Canadians fought in every major battle, supplied arms to the South, and many key Confederate meetings took place on Canadian soil. Boyko gives Americans a new understanding of the North American context of the war, and also shows how the political climate of the time created a more unified Canada, one that was able to successfully oppose American expansion. 

Filled with engaging stories and astonishing facts from previously unaccessed primary sources, Boyko''s fascinating new interpretation of the war will appeal to all readers of history. Blood and Daring will change our views not just of Canada''s relationship with the United States, but of Confederation itself.

Boyko is an interesting writer and manages to bring to life many stories about the war. I really enjoyed the book, learned a lot about the war itself and Canada's role in it. For instance I didn't realize how soon after Lincoln had been elected that the war started or that he was assassinated just days after the wars end. I had heard that Canadians went down and fought in the war, but was surprised that for a country with such a small population that 40,000 Canadians went south to fight. Even more surprising was that they fought for both sides.

One chapter is filled with stories of individuals that fought in the war. One of the most interesting was that of Sarah Emma Edmonds who disguised herself as a man, Franklin Thompson, and joined the Union army as first a nurse, then a spy. There are many more.

Canada was a hotbed of Confederate activity too, something I didn't know.

Finally, I was again surprised to learn how much Canada was coveted by the States. One of the reason that Confederation came about was the desires of the U.S. to take us over. Even after Confederation, the States tried to make a deal with Britain to give Canada to them as payment for selling warships to the Confederates which they called the Alabama claims.

For a civil war buff or somebody interested in Canadian history this is a must read. For everyone else, this is a very interesting and entertaining book!

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