Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breaking the Silence by Ted Barris

We shall not forget....

Breaking The Silence explores the realities of war from the point of view of soldiers who have been there and experienced the trauma and shock. Most of Barris' book details the experiences of World War II and Korean war veterans in a more personal and unique manner. There are a few interviews with Canadian veterans of the Afghanistan mission. Instead of the sanitized and glorious stories we normally hear from vets, we get the a more in-depth treatment of how their war experiences affected them over the years and what those experiences were actually like.
Barris details his work putting a human face on war and how he has helped younger generations meet up with Canada's war vets in a way that cuts through the ceremony of Remembrance Day. Inviting war vets to come and speak in schools has helped younger Canadians see that these men and women were real people who often had to make difficult decisions under a great deal of stress.
For me the most poignant part of the book was the description by Afghanistan veteran, Jeff Peck of his travel along the Highway of Heroes in 2007 when he accompanied the body of Capt. Dawes to Toronto. Since I don't live in this part of Canada, I've posted a few pictures:

Peck's told about the effect of seeing so many Canadians support the families of these fallen soldiers. In a country with so little national pride, this was heart-warming.
Breaking the Silence is a grim reminder of the cost of war and the price of freedom. Well written with photos of many of the vets Barris had contact with.

Highly recommended for all interested in war veterans and in particular Canadian war veterans.

Book Details:

Breaking the Silence.
Veteran's Untold Stories. From the Great War to Afghanistan. by Ted Barris

Thomas Allen Publishers, 2009


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