Mar 142011

Originally posted: May 6, 2006, 6:04 pm. This is the second in a series of three posts excerpting Gary Boegel’s Boys of the Clouds: An Oral History of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion 1942-45. The 1st Canadian para were among the first allied troops to set foot in France on D-Day. Although many of the troops were dropped far from their targeted drop zones, the Battalion still managed to achieve all of their objectives and played a vital role in the overall success of the mission. Here is just a taste of what these soldiers experienced, in their own words. [... read the rest ...]

Mar 072011

Originally posted: April 19, 2006, 4:31 pm. Gary Boegel has given me permission to reprint a few excepts from his oral history of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, Boys of the Clouds. I am now over halfway through the 450 page tome, and have been dog-earring stories I particularly enjoy as I make my way though. This first set of excerpts represents some of the veterans’ lighter stories from the weeks and months following the D-Day landings in Normandy. Private Esko Makela B Company, No. 5 Platoon One day when we were dug in on the perimeter of our position, [... read the rest ...]

Dec 212010

Death Was Our Companion: The Final Days of the Third Reich, by Tony Le Tissier, is a compilation of memoirs, interviews, and journals from German soldiers who fought on the Eastern Front as the Russians rolled them into Berlin in the spring of 1945.  The individual accounts are supplied without embellishment, and present a much more personal history of the final days of Nazi Germany than anything that you will find in a history textbook. While it is easy to claim that all Germans were monsters during the second world war, that blanket assertion misses the individual truths:  many ordinary [... read the rest ...]

Originally posted: July 18, 2004, 8:17pm The first post I wrote that ever garnished interest from Googlers was entitled Jesus: An Egyptian Myth?. It was a short blurb about an article I saw in the Ottawa Citizen that discussed Tom Harpur’s latest book, The Pagan Christ. I finished reading the book on June 6th, but being caught up with the election hype I have put off writing anything until now. Unfortunately The Pagan Christ is not fresh in my mind anymore, however I can give a brief synopsis and my overall opinion. Since this is about religion, I feel I [... read the rest ...]

While I’m not an avid fan of horror, I can often make my way through games, movies, or books that dabble in the genre.  So, when the Lightspeed podcast had a sci-fi horror short story available for download, I figured that I’d give it a listen. The Taste of Starlight, by John R. Fultz, defeated me. I made it through a little less than half of the podcast before I had to turn it off – I simply couldn’t bear to hear what was coming next.  Unlike monster-in-a-closet horror, a rough roadmap for Fultz’s tale is easy to infer after [... read the rest ...]

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Although the hype for Watchmen has long faded, I figured that it was far past time that I found out what the graphic novel was about. It has been decades since I read a comic book.  My first job way back in middle school was working for a hobby shop, and with no better way to spend my newfound cash, I started collecting comics – mostly old school Marvel and new and trendy Image titles, but also a smattering of others when something caught my eye. Thankfully it was extremely easy to slide back into reading a comic, I love [... read the rest ...]

Extremes, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Extremes, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is the second novel in her Retrieval Artist series and the sequel to The Disappeared.  Rusch is a multi-genre author, penning books that range from high fantasy, to mysteries, to science fiction.  This particular novel, which was actually a pain in the butt to acquire when I picked it up due to supply issues, is best described as a “space mystery” given its unique blend of sci fi and pulpy crime drama. Departing from the theme that dominates Retrieval Artist series – human-alien relations and the possibility that mankind would sell itself out to win [... read the rest ...]

Waiting on Otherland

One of my favorite series of novels is Tad Williams‘ four part science fiction masterpiece, Otherland.  The books are set in the near future with the advent of fully immersive virtual reality has been achieved, and the tech has become cheap enough that even the middle class can get online and experience virtual worlds as if they were a physical reality. This technological innovation has changed how everything from commerce to video gaming are consumed, however, as the protagonists in the novel discover, there is a darker side to The Net.  It’s a gripping series, and well worth reading if [... read the rest ...]

Rollback, by Robert Sawyer

Robert Sawyer is, in my opinion, one of the masters of modern science fiction.  His works are usually set in the near future and take one or two scientific ideas, stretch them subtly so that they are fiction instead of pure truth, and then extrapolate on the ramifications. While this focus on science can make his work a difficult read for people who have no interest in real science (and only read science fiction novels for space cowboys, blaster guns, and elves in space), Sawyer’s fluency in his subject matter makes his novels a joy to read for folks who [... read the rest ...]


History Comments Off
Jun 062010

Here is a letter from Intimate Voices From the First World War. Canadian Private Percy Winthrop McClare wrote this letter to his mother on April 16th 1917 after participating in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. [original spelling, punctuation, and grammar preserved] My dear Mother, I can only write a short letter this time, but I hope I will be able to do so soon. I have not written a letter for over a week an a half as I have been in the trenches for 9 days, and it is impossible to write up there. You have no doubt heard [... read the rest ...]

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