A Tale of Two Nations
“We will have to kill tens of thousands more Germans before there can be a peace that will justify all this suffering and sorrow.”
A Tale of Two Nations is the story of North American countries that found themselves embroiled in an European war – one by circumstance and one by choice. It discusses two pivotal events from each year of the Great War – one from an American perspective and one from a Canadian one – and reveals how newspapers at the time handled wartime coverage.
Using contemporary newspapers as its main sources, A Tale of Two Nations weaves together a story that does not have the benefit of hindsight and analysis. It’s chaotic, incomplete and often inaccurate, but it does paint a picture of war as our ancestors would have known it.
In Part one, 1914, the war begins. Canada is proud to contribute to the war effort while the United States declares its neutrality.
In Part two, spring 1915 is consumed with two traumatic events. The Canadian Expeditionary Force passes its trial by fire, entering battle for the first time and winning glory while becoming victims of a chlorine gas attack. A month later, the United States is shocked that German submarine warfare has killed civilians. The Lusitania is sunk, and war rhetoric is on the rise.
In Part three, 1916, Canada participates in the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history and the battle that introduces the tank, yet papers back home are preoccupied elsewhere. In the United States, the presidential election of 1916 brings out opposing viewpoints. Will the populous re-elect President Woodrow Wilson who kept the nation out of the war, or will the electorate go in a different direction?
In Part four, 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge often is called Canada’s coming of age, but is that how contemporary newspapers viewed the victory? Meanwhile, not long after his second inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson, following years of pledging American neutrality, declares war on Germany.
In Part five, 1918, Armistice is declared at last, ending the Great War. However, joy is tempered by the Spanish Flu pandemic.
This book is for anyone who has an interest in World War 1, the history of journalism, American history, Canadian history, political history or 20th century history.