Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation

John Boyko. Knopf Canada, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-36144-8
The American Civil War not only pitted Northerner against Southerner, but also threatened to drag Canada, and by extension, Britain, into its conflagration. Boyko (Bennett: The Rebel Who Challenged and Changed a Nation) weaves together disparate yet connected plot lines, fueled by a succession of multi-faceted characters in a thrilling, near-theatrical look at the years leading up to Confederation. Boyko presents his facts through the prism of six historical players, beginning with former slave John Anderson and ending with Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister. The other protagonists are likewise cleverly selected to round out the account: turncoat statesman Jacob Thompson, aggressive expansionist William Seward, farm girl-turned-war nurse Sarah Emma Edmonds and editor-politician George Brown. Quotes gleaned from letters, newspapers and speeches give readers a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the events of the 1860s. The authoritative narration is clear, precise, and entirely enjoyable for non-scholars. The book presents a startlingly unfamiliar and ominously dangerous period in Canadian-American relations; the world's longest undefended border was in danger of bursting into flames, unless a unified country could emerge from the tangle of British colonies. It's the birth of Canada in all its glory and muck. Distribution: Random House. Helen Heller Agency (May)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Release date: 05/28/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 355 pages - 978-0-307-36146-2
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