For another year in a row, the Je me souviens team offers you a selection of books, movies and TV shows to discover during these few days of respite! When you’re not cooking dinner for the family, enjoying the outdoors or trying to ignore your emails, why not take the time to read a little?
Indigenous Military History
- Conflict and Compromise: Pre-Confederation Canada (Raymond B. Blake, Jeffrey Keshen, Norman J. Knowles & Barbara J. Messamore) – The first volume in a series on Canadian history, this illustrated book focuses on First Nations settlements prior to the establishment of Canada’s present-day borders in the 19th century.
- Guerre et paix en Nouvelle-France (Alain Beaulieu) – A fascinating collective work that deals with the very complex geopolitical situation between the European settlers and the native peoples during the period of New France (in french).
- La grande paix : chronique d’une saga diplomatique (Alain Beaulieu & Roland Viau) – Written by two of the greatest specialists in New France and Indigenous history, this book traces the complete history of the famous Great Peace of Montreal signed in 1701 (in french).
- L’Empire face aux Renards : La conduite politique d’un conflit franco-amérindien (1712-1738) () – A new monograph that tells the story of the bloody conflict between the French Empire and the Mesquakies tribe in the aftermath of the Great Peace of Montreal (in french).
- Onontio le médiateur : la gestion des conflits amérindiens en Nouvelle-France, 1603-1717 (Maxime Gohier) – Another work related to the Great Peace of Montreal, this one focuses on the role of the French governor as a mediator among the various native tribes (in french).
- Représentation, métissage et pouvoir. La dynamique coloniale des échanges entre Autochtones, Européens et Canadiens (XVIe-XXe siècle) (Alain Beaulieu & Stéphanie Chaffray) – This massive book explores the various forms of relationships among Indigenous, European and Canadian peoples from the beginning of colonization to the present day (in french).
Are you interested in more general books on Indigenous history? If so, we have some other books to recommend! The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada is a large collaborative project that presents maps, photographs and detailed information about Indigenous cultures within Canada in four volumes. All four books are available in English and French online for free! For more reading on the subject, we also recommend the following books, in french: Les Iroquoiens du St-Laurent, peuple du maïs (Roland Tremblay), Deux siècles d’esclavage au Québec (Marcel Trudel & Micheline D’Allaire) and Femmes de personne sexes, genres et pouvoirs en iroquoisie (Roland Viau).
World War I
- Bodies of Work: The First World War and the Transnational Making of Rehabilitation (Julie M. Powell) – An academic book published this year by Cambridge University Press, it recounts the various measures of rehabilitation of wounded veterans during the Great War.
- La Première Guerre mondiale dans le Pacifique : De la colonisation à Pearl Harbor (Maxime Reynaud) – In continuity with our article on the First World War in Asia, this monograph explains in detail the fighting carried out in Asia by France, Great Britain and Japan against the German Empire and the consequences of the Great War on the Pacific in 1941 (in french).
- L’humour des Poilus canadiens-français de la Grande Guerre (Bernard Andrès) – This short research presents the different forms that humour took among Quebec soldiers mobilized in the trenches (in french).
World War II
- And No Birds Sang (Farley Mowat) – In this book, the famous Canadian writer Farley Mowat recounts his experiences at the front during the long Italian Campaign and until the end of the war.
- La Guerre du Pacifique a commencé en Indochine (Franck Michelin) – Another monograph, this research deconstructs the war between Japan and France in 1940 and places it in the broader context of the Pacific War (1941-1945). Our content manager, Julien, has written a detailed account in for those interested! Note: The monograph and the review are both in french.
- The Alternative Hypothesis (Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt) – In this well-known book, novelist Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt explores a parallel universe where Adolf Hitler would have been accepted to art school and would not have succumbed to fascism.
- Les mythes de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (Jean Lopez et Olivier Wieviorka) – This two-volume series aims to disprove various issues related to the Second World War. From reassessing the military capabilities of Nazi General Erwin Rommel to setting the record straight on the Soviet front, a selection of experts has been mobilized to re-explain this landmark conflict based on new research (in french).
- Max (Sarah Cohen-Scali) – A favorite of our communications manager, Aglaé Pinsonnault, Max is a popular children’s novel about a young German child who grows up in the Nazi regime’s Lebensborn program and later meets a Polish Jewish child during the war.
- If This Is a Man (Primo Levi) – Another novel dealing with Nazi atrocities, this autobiographical book deals with the experience of Jewish survivor Primo Levi of the Auschwitz extermination camp.
- Dieppe 1941 : la catastrophe (Bill Rawling) – This book tells the story of the infamous Dieppe Raid, from its planning to the liberation of the survivors of the POW camps. A solid synthesis, the author spares no detail and presents the raid in all its facets (in french).
- La mémoire de Dieppe : radioscopie d’un mythe (Béatrice Richard) – Adapted from her doctoral dissertation, Béatrice Richard explores the memorial legacy of the Dieppe Raid within Quebec society by examining each significant period and current. Initially perceived as a strong sign of Quebec’s participation in the war, the raid later became a symbol of British and Anglophone imperialism among the general population. And through these different visions of the raid and the war, Beatrice Richard ultimately emphasizes that it was the veterans who suffered (in french).
- Unauthorized Action: Mountbatten and the Dieppe Raid (Brian Villa) – Released in 1989, this book is one of the definitive references on the planning of the Dieppe Raid in order to explain the context behind this military tragedy. Under the research of historian Brian Villa, the COHQ is portrayed as a largely flawed entity under the command of General Louis Mountbatten. Apart from this, the author also points out that the raid was motivated more by its political impact than its military contribution.
- Edge of Eternity third volume of The Century trilogy (Ken Follet) – Naturally, we would recommend you to read the rest of the trilogy! But this third volume, set during the height of the Cold War, can also be read on its own. Offering an overview of the United States and Europe between 1961 and 1989, this novel reads almost like a history book!
- The Untouchable (John Banville) – A favorite of our coordinator Marina, this novel tells the story of Soviet spy Victor Maskell (based on the real-life spy Anthony Blunt) and his many double identities throughout his life.
- La Guerre d’Alan (Emmanuel Guibert) – In several volumes, this small French comic book series traces the journey of American soldier Alan Ingram Cope during the liberation of France from German occupation. Based on the memories of the real Alan Ingram Cope, other related volumes exist to recreate his life before the war: L’Enfance d’Alan and Martha & Alan, both in french.
- Maus (Art Spiegelman) – This comic probably doesn’t need an introduction anymore, but we think it’s still worth recommending! An autobiographical story, Maus depicts the relationship between the author and his father and his efforts to recreate his father’s story during the Holocaust.
- They Called Us Enemy (George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott & Harmony Becker) – Before becoming Sulu in the famous Star Treks series, George Takei was interned in the United States with his family and many other Japanese Americans. This little comic book tells the story of his internment childhood and his relationship with his father at the same time.
Films and teleseries
- 1917 (film, Sam Mendes) – This big budget war film shows the horror of the Great War and the futility of fighting through the eyes of two British soldiers.
- 39-45 en sol canadien (documentary series hosted by Claude Legault) – Available on TV5, this documentary series explores different facets of the Second World War on the Canadian home front: from love to anti-Semitism to resistance to conscription (in french).
- All Quiet on the Western Front (film, Edward Berger) – Released this year, this re-adaptation of the novel of the same name, which recounts the experiences of German soldiers in the trenches during World War I, is available on Netflix.
- Goulag : Une histoire soviétique (documentary series, Patrick Rotman) – This documentary series in three episodes available on arte.tv tells the story of the gulag system within the Soviet regime (in french).
- My Best Friend Anne Frank (film, Ben Sombogaart) – Available on Netflix, this film is about the relationship between survivor Hanneli Goslar and little Anne Frank and their joint paths during the Holocaust.
- Operation Mincemeat (film, John Madden) – Another Netflix release, this war film presents the difficult organization of Operation Mincemeat: the Allied invasion of Sicily.
- Saving Private Ryan (film, Steven Spielberg) – A great classic of war films whose introduction is no longer necessary today!
- The Adolf Eichmann Trial (documentary film, Michaël Prazan) – At the turn of the 1960s, Nazi Adolf Eichmann was captured by Mossad in South America and deported to Israel and put on trial for his many crimes against humanity during World War II. This documentary traces the workings of the trial and its cultural impact around the world.
- The Courier (film, Dominic Cooke) – Released in 2020 and inspired by a true story, this film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a British spy working against the Soviet Union during the 1960s.
- The Hunt for Red October (film, John McTiernan) – This film starring Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin and several other notable actors is set during the Cold War and tells the story of a Soviet submarine’s desertion to join the United States. In an attempt to avoid a terrible confrontation against the two superpowers, the submarine’s crew must make it to the safety of American waters.
- Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror (documentary series, Brian Knappenberger) – On the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11, this Netflix documentary series offers a retrospective on the tragedy, the war on terror, and the American occupation of the United States and Afghanistan that followed.
As part of their Westmount and the War exhibition, our partner the Royal Montreal Regiment Museum has released an interactive map of the city of Westmount in relation to the Second World War. This is a great way to illustrate how the war was more central to the daily lives of Montrealers than we thought!
Do you like video games? The holiday season is often accompanied by discounts. So why not take advantage of it to discover new games? We personally recommend two computer games that might interest you. The first one, This War of Mine, puts you in the role of a group of civilians caught in the middle of a civil war. You have to make your group survive by accumulating resources, improving your shelter and dealing with various unforeseen events such as the weather, groups of brigands and the war itself! This War of Mine has been critically acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of war on the civilian side. A bit more playful, our second suggestion is the puzzle game Valiant Hearts: The Great War from Ubisoft Montpellier. Depicted with beautiful artwork, Valiant Hearts features several characters: the French soldier Emile, his German stepson Karl, the Belgian nurse Anna, the American engineer Freddie and the dog Walt. In different scenarios, each character must overcome different riddles and puzzles to progress further. The game is also accompanied by several computer segments about the war and allows us to learn as much as to have fun!