Holiday Reading (2021)

The JMS team is back this year with a new series of book and TV series suggestions for the holiday season!

The JMS team was very active during this year 2021! A well-deserved vacation is upon us. However, we have a whole list of books, movies, documentaries and TV series to keep you busy during these holidays!


Indigenous History

  • Code Talker (Chester Nez) – Though not Canadian, this is a memoir of Chester Nez, one of the 29 Navajo Code Talkers. It is the only memoir written by one of the Indigenous code talkers of World War II.
  • Indigenous Peoples and the Second World War: The Policies, Experiences and Legacies of War in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Scott Sheffield and Noah Riseman) – The title says it all! Note that this book seems to be available only as an e-book, otherwise it seems to be very expensive.
  • Indigenous Women, WWII Aboriginal Servicewomen (Grace Poulin) – A book compiling 18 profiles of 18 Canadian Indigenous women who served in one of the world wars.
  • The Scout: Tommy Prince (David Robertson) – A graphic novel for young readers that tells the story of Sgt Tommy Prince.

World War I

  • Le Québec dans la Grande Guerre (Charles-Philippe Courtois et Laurent Veyssière) – A very complete book on the effects of the First World War on Quebec (in French).
  • Paris 1919 (Margaret MacMillan) – An in-depth account of the Treaty of Versailles. As mentioned by our manager, Marina Smyth : «I put it on the past Christmas list, so I figured I’d lobby to have you add it to this one as well!».
  • They Fought in Colour: A New Look at Canada’s First World War Effort / La Guerre en couleur : Nouveau regard sur le Canada dans la Première Guerre mondiale (Paul Gross, Peters Mansbridge et la Fondation Vimy) – A bilingual book for the general public on Canadian participation in the Great War.

World War II

  • Areyo Hoshikuzu (Yamada Sensuke) – A manga in seven volumes, this series tells the daily life of two Japanese soldiers who return home and must live the challenges of a devastated country after the war.
  • Enfants en guerre (Kees Vanderheyden) – An account by children aged 9 to 12 during the Second World War (in French).
  • So Much To Forget: A Child’s Vision Of Hell (Alain Stanké) – A biographical account of a childhood during the Second World War.
  • The Stormy season trilogy (Charlotte Link) – Includes the books Stormy Season, Wild Lupins and The Heritage. This fiction is set in Germany during the time of East Prussia and the story takes place from the beginning of World War I to the post-war years of the 1950s.

Battle of Hong Kong

  • Not the Slightest Chance (Tony Banham) – An extremely complete book on the different phases of the battle of Hong Kong, almost entirely based on the testimonies of the soldiers.
  • The Battle for Hong Kong, 1941-1945: Hostage to Fortune (Oliver Lindsay) – This book is a mix between a biography of John R. Harris, a British volunteer, and a study of the battle and the subsequent imprisonment of the Allies.
  • Tin Hats & Rice (Barbara Anslow) – Based on the diary of Barbara Anslow, a British internee at Stanley Camp, this book explains in depth the daily life of civilians in Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation.

War in Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History (Thomas Barfield) – If you want to understand the context of the conflict in Afghanistan, this book covers the history of Afghanistan from the Mughal Empire to the resurgence of the Taliban.
  • No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes (Anand Gopal) – Marina Smyth: “I’ve read a few of Anand Gopal’s articles, and they were well written, interesting and revealing. In this book, Gopal looks at the failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, including the perspective of Afghan villagers.
  • The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan (Graeme Smith) – Canadian journalist Graeme Smith recounts his years of reporting in Afghanistan and departs from the official narrative of the war, exposing in great detail what life was really like for soldiers and civilians.
  • The Politics of War: Canada’s Afghanistan Mission, 2001–14 (Jean-Christophe Boucher and Kim Richard Nossal) – This book is fairly academic, but if you want an inside look at Canadian policy during the war in Afghanistan and a retrospective of the ups and downs of popular opinion on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, this book is for you.
Cover of "They Fought in Colour" by the Vimy Foundation.
Cover of "Tin Hats & Rice" by Barbara Anslow.
Cover of "Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History" by Thomas Barfield.

Films and teleseries


  • Devils on the Doorstep (film, Jiang Wen) – A dark comedy from China, this film features Chinese peasants who find themselves forced to guard two Japanese prisoners.
  • Fires on the Plain (film, Kon Ichikawa) – A 1959 classic, this film tells the story of a Japanese soldier’s attempts to stay alive in the final days of the war. The film was very well re-adapted in 2014.
  • Grave of the Fireflies (film, Akiyuki Nosaka) – A semi-autobiographical Japanese animation film.
  • Joyeux Noël (film, Christian Carion) – This film is about the Christmas truce during the First World War, in December 1914, between the British, the French and the Germans.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (film, Mark Herman) – A film about the Holocaust from the perspective of an 8-year-old boy.
  • The Cranes Are Flying (film, Mikhaïl Kalatozov) – Un classique du cinéma russe !
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (film, Mike Newell) – A historical fiction set in the World War II era and available on Netflix.

Bonus: there are a lot of French documentaries on! Our communications manager, Alexandrine Bleau-Quintal, offers you her personal list of suggestions:

  • Goering, l’homme de fer
  • La bataille de Terre-Neuve
  • Léo Major : le fantôme borgne
  • Les sœurs de Nagasaki
  • Viols de guerre : 70 ans d’histoire d’une arme taboue


  • Bomb Girls (series, Michael MacLennan et Adrienne Mitchell) – A short Canadian series about women working in a munitions factory.
  • Land Girls (series, Roland Moore) – A period series about four British women working on a farm to support the war effort.


No ideas for gifts? The Canadian company UsefulCharts has a lot of informative posters on a variety of topics! We’re particularly fond of the Canadian history and world history charts. Finally, we invite you to take a look at our suggestions from the previous year.

Happy reading from the Je me souviens team!