CDA Institute Analysis: A Response by Patrick Dennis to Reviews of Reluctant Warriors: Canadian Conscripts and the Great War

The CDA Institute has now posted three reviews of my book, Reluctant Warriors: Canadian Conscripts and the Great War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017) – the first by Dr. Andrew Theobald this past March, and the second and third by Michel Gravel and Keith Maxwell, respectively, earlier this month. I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to their views in this forum.
I am pleased first of all that Theobald found my book “compelling.” Indeed, I found that his thoughtful and well-written review highlighted many of the monograph’s strengths – thank you. But clearly, he also expressed several concerns that warrant a reply.
For example, he argues that “The wider target of the work is Canadian historiography’s perceived denigration of this conscript contribution.” In this respect, I can assure readers that this was not my intent. The principal focus of Reluctant Warriors is on Canadian conscripts at war – what Theobald describes as a “long overdue examination.” The main aim, though, was to prove or disprove the allegation that these men had arrived on the Western Front too late and in insufficient numbers to make any difference to the success of the Canadian Corps in the Hundred Days, not to target the historiography per se. To fully examine this thesis, the reader is also provided with the necessary contextual information – the essential political, military, social and cultural developments that eventually saw more than 47,000 conscripts leave Canada’s shores.

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