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Toronto, Canada – Adding a bold voice to recent debate over the role, cost, and reach of Canada’s military, a new book Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift, provides a critical perspective on both Canada’s growing effort to portray itself as a militaristic Warrior Nation and its exploitation of history in achieving this end.
Taking examples from the Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, and Canada’s UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, Ian McKay and Jamie Swift consider how Canada’s valorization of military history has thrown totemic Canadian ideals of peace, tolerance, and reasoned public debate into question. Replacing these ideals, the authors assert, is a shift in Canadian political culture toward authoritarian leadership and permanent political polarization.
“It’s all about how wars are remembered, not whether we remember them,” co-author Jamie Swift observed. “Warrior Nation describes the way that government attempts to manipulate and indeed mould public opinion to suit its own agenda.”
Historian and co-author Ian McKay added that “many regimes around the world have used the technique of mobilizing fear and drawing us back to cults of blood and death, but very few of those regimes were ever called democracies.”
In pages of exhaustive research, Warrior Nation sheds light on the key players and narratives essential to understanding both Canada’s past and its current direction. Swashbuckling marauder William Stairs, the Royal Military College graduate who helped make the Congo safe for European pillage.
Vimy Ridge veteran and Second World War general Tommy Burns, leader of the UN’s first big peacekeeping operation, a soldier who would come to call imperialism “the monster of the age.” Governor General John Buchan, a concentration camp developer and race theorist who is exalted in the Harper government’s new citizenship guide.
Ian McKay is a professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. His previous books include Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada’s Left History, For a Working-Class Culture in Canada, and the award-winning Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People’s Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920.
Jamie Swift is a winner of the Michener Fellowship for Public Service Journalism. He has authored numerous books, from biography and history to corporate muckraking. His most recent title is Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins, co-authored with Brice Balmer and Mira Dineen.