Holiday Reading (2023)

The end of the year means a new vacation! And a new vacation also means a new list of our recommendations for passing the time over the vacations!

It’s been a big year for the JMS team in 2023, with a new exhibition on the Italian campaign available online and in schools (subject to booking), new educational activities, new videos and lots of new articles! A well-deserved vacation! To mark the occasion, our team has got together once again and prepared another list of recommended readings and films and TV series! Enough to keep you busy for several days!


First World War

  • Harry Livingstone’s Forgotten Men: Canadians and the Chinese Labour Corps in the First World War (Dan Black) – This book uses Dr. Harry Livingston’s diary as a starting point to examine the experiences of the thousands of Chinese workers who crossed Canada to the front during the First World War. A largely unknown story that deserves to be discovered!
  • Len & Cub: A Queer History (Meredith J. Batt & Dusty Green) – The basis for our article on the couple of Len and Cub, the book is a super interesting read that talks about their military careers in great detail.
  • No Man’s Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War (John Toland) – A classic of military literature, this book recounts the final days of the First World War from the point of view of participants on all sides. From the mud of the trenches to the officers’ meeting rooms, historian John Toland provides a fascinating description of this pivotal final year.
  • Recipes for Victory: Great War Food from the Front and Kitchens Back Home in Canada (Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich) – A wonderful book on World War I military cuisine, full of fun recipes.

Second World War

  • Chronographie de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (Nicolas Guillerat & Thibault Montbazet) – Synthesizing the Second World War is no mean feat. But the challenge has been met by these two authors, who present the conflict in 600 dates spread over more than three meters! A new way of looking at the war!
  • Volontaires. Des Québécois en guerre (1939-1945) (Yves Tremblay) – Based on several interviews with veterans, this extremely comprehensive book tells the story of Quebec soldiers during the Second World War, and puts the province’s participation in the conflict into perspective.
Cover of "Recipes for Victory: Great War Food from the Front and Kitchens Back Home in Canada" by Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich.

In addition to history books, Éditions Monarque has also published a number of french historical novels, including Dans les ventres d’acier, Le naufrage d’un monde, Et le monde brûla by Gabriel Thériault, La mer était rouge by Nicolas Paquin and the Nightingale sisters series by Donna Douglas.

History of the Shoah

  • Le pacte antisémite. Le début de la Shoah en Galicie orientale (juin-juillet 1941) (Marie Moutier-Bitan) – Published in 2023, this hard-hitting research deals with the extermination of Jews in Eastern Galicia when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, examining the legal framework and collaboration with the local population.
  • La division Handschar Waffen-SS de Bosnie, 1943-1945 (Xavier Bougarel) – Several non-German divisions also took part in the Jewish genocide, working within the Nazi army. In this book, historian Xavier Bougarel presents the Handschar division, then made up mainly of Muslim soldiers from Bosnia-Herzegovina. As a bonus, listen to a presentation by the author below to learn more:

Histoire militaire canadienne

  • Pathway to the Stars: 100 Years of the Royal Canadian Air Force (Michael Hood et Tom Jenkins) – A very good RCAF story featuring many interesting people and aircraft!
  • The Fight for History (Tim Cook) – In this book, historian Tim Cook explores the construction of Canada’s perception of its own participation in the world wars. The author explains how society views its wars, its veterans and its commemorations.
  • Irma s’en va-t-en guerre (Karine Gagnon) – Irma LeVasseur is one of the most important women in Quebec history. In this new book, historian Karine Gagnon explores Irma LeVasseur’s service in fighting the Typhus epidemic in Serbia.

French editions Passés / Composés also recently completed their Le monde en guerre series. Compiled in four volumes and featuring more than a dozen historians, this series aims to build a global history of war from prehistory to the present day.

Cover of Volume 1, "De la préhistoire au Moyen Âge", edited by Hervé Drévillon & Giusto Traina.
Cover of volume 2, "L'Âge classique, XVe-XIXe siècle", edited by Hervé Drévillon.
Cover of volume 3, "Guerres mondiales et impériales. 1870-1945", edited by Hervé Drévillon and André Loez.
Cover of Volume 4, "Guerre sans frontières", edited by Louis Gautier.

Comic books

Montreal based publisher La Pastèque has two comics in its catalog that may be of interest to military history buffs: Les derniers corsaires by Marc Richard and Jocelyn Houde, and Deux généraux by Scott Chantler (also available in English). In the former, follow the adventures of World War II ace Lieutenant Wolff aboard his submarine! As for the second, discover the story of two officers of the Highland Light Infantry as they are sent to take part in the famous Normandy landings.

Images courtesy of reference site BDTheque.

Films and TV series

  • 37 Days (tv series, Justin Hardy) – Spread over three episodes, this British TV series covers the period between the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the formal declarations of the First World War.
  • All the Light We Cannot See (tv series, Steven Knight) – A four-part teleserye drama set during the Second World War, available on Netflix.
  • Au revoir là-haut (movie, Albert Dupontel) – Released in 2017, this French drama depicts two soldiers trying to survive World War I by any means necessary!
  • The Interpreter of Silence (tv series, Annette Hess) – This miniseries, released this year, follows the journey of a translator who suddenly finds herself working on the first trials of Holocaust war criminals during the 1960s. All five episodes are available on Disney+.
  • The Vietnam War (docu series, Ken Burns) – A ten-episode documentary series retracing the entire Vietnam War, using original testimonies and archives. A titanic project that took several years to complete!
  • The Forgotten Battle (movie, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.) – A Dutch film, available on Netflix, about the Battle of the Scheldt (1944).

That’s it for this latest edition of our recommended vacation reading! If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to check out our previous editions for more books, films, TV series and video games: 2020, 2021 et 2022.

Happy reading from the Je me souviens team!