Baptism of Fire

Paperback | October 20, 2008

byNathan M. Greenfield

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The Second Battle of Ypres was, by any definition, a brutal event in a brutal war. The already terrible conditions of trench warfare, punctuated by the unimaginable horror of shell fire that turned men into “pink mist,” became even worse when the Germans introduced chlorine gas. But despite the terror, the battle marked a key moment in the formation of Canadian identity and pride. After the Germans’ initial gas attack opened a 12-kilometre-long hole in Allied lines, it was the heroic 1st Canadian Division—men who had been in the trenches for just over a week—who rushed to fill the gap and block the enemy advance.
    Drawing on never-before-published material, Nathan M. Greenfield, author of The Battle of the St. Lawrence, presents a gripping new account of the Second Battle of Ypres. Here are the voices of the soldiers themselves—both Canadian and German—reaching across more than 90 years with a stunning immediacy.

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From the Publisher

The Second Battle of Ypres was, by any definition, a brutal event in a brutal war. The already terrible conditions of trench warfare, punctuated by the unimaginable horror of shell fire that turned men into “pink mist,” became even worse when the Germans introduced chlorine gas. But despite the terror, the battle marked a key moment in...

From the Jacket

The Second Battle of Ypres pitted highly trained German soldiers—armed with the first weapon of mass destruction, chlorine gas—against the 1st Canadian Division, which had been in the trenches for just over a week. Yet it was the Canadians who triumphed, stopping the German advance. After that battle, which claimed John McCrae’s close ...

NATHAN M. GREENFIELD, Ph.D., is the Canadian correspondentforThe Times Educational Supplementand is acontributor toMaclean’s,Canadian GeographicandThe TimesLiterary Supplement. He is the author ofBaptism of Fire, whichwas a finalist for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, and the widely praisedThe Battle of the St. Lawren...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.25 inPublished:October 20, 2008Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0006395767

ISBN - 13:9780006395768

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Customer Reviews of Baptism of Fire

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Testament to Canada. Most Canadians have heard the stories of the: success at Vimy, the poem of Flanders, and the dreariness of Passchendaele, but the story of Ypres is one that deserves its place as one of Canada's most compelling military events. Nathan Greenfield paints the picture in an horrific but exquisite manner, one that moved me to the point of tears and disbelief throughout the entire book. Canada's first taste of battle in the First World War was also the first successful poisionus gas attack in history. Unfortunately, they were on the receiving end. As a history major, I have never read such an accurate depiction on the chaos of war, and Greenfield is extremely successful in making it very personal. He takes the time to account for numerous individual experiences, and give actual depth to these people (ie. where they are from, how old they were, etc.). As any successful historian, Greenfield also does a superb job of indicating flaws and maintaing as much of an arbitrary approach as possible. As a Canadian, I couldn't help but think very deeply as I read the tragedy of 2nd Ypres. However, pride is the only word that comes to mind when summarizing this work. I am proud to know the sacrifices of the men who experienced the horrors of war, especially at such an extreme at Ypres. This book truly is a testament to what it means to be Canadian: an unwaivering resolve combined with compassionate sacrifice for the greatest good. In the midst of the Remberance Day season, I'm not expecting everyone to grab a military history book and study up on our past. But what I do expect, is for at least one moment, one single solitary moment, each and every one of us can just understand that these soldiers sacrificed everything, so we would never have to.
Date published: 2008-10-21