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548 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 episode, or Blackburn's trip to the dentist- to help maintain one's psychological balance. For those interested in more traditional issues of training, operations, and equipment, Blackburn offers sufficient detail to satisfy buff, historian, and antiquarian alike. How outdated artillery procedures were eventually replaced with more modern approaches; how training evolved in the course of the war; and how gunners became adept at 'crash actions' are all related in a ma.nner which clarifies even the most complex manoeuvres. Appendices provide even further details on procedures, such as the use of an artillery board and the intricacies of cardinal-point ranging. Proper equipment, Blackburn notes, was a long time comin& usually the case in democracies which must justify peacetime military spending to often suspicious electorates. Finally, Blackburn provides a soldier's view of such issues as the art of soldiering and grand strategy. His comment that 'Overhead, Hurricanes and Spitfires (for the first time seen in numbers) now fly unchallenged, visible proof that Goering's bold promise to wipe the skies clean of British aircraft has not been fulfilled' is just one example of how gunners, privates, or sappers can often make up their own minds how the war is going based on the evidence of their own senses. As for the basics of soldiering, Blackburndiscusses such details as differentstyles ofauthority, where'One co may be totally preoccupied with attaining high standards of training, while his successor shows himself to be incapable of overlooking the pickiest of details in dress and conduct'; or soldiers' attitudes towards innovation: 'Soldiers don't like change.' The reader should be warned that Blackburn, like many historians and chroniclers, can occasionally over-generalize, as in his statement that 'For the serviceman, interest in professional sporting events was almost nil,' or sometimes vent his journalist's anger at politicians, as in his description of Vincent Massey as a 'timid little man' and a 'meek Canadian/ but these only serve to remind us that as much as we rnay learn from the experiences of people like George Blackburn, they each traced their own paths through the war and were each marked a little differently, leaving each with a slightly different view of the past. (BILL RAWLING) Isabel Vincent. Hitler's Silent Partners: Swiss Banks, Nazi Gold, and the Pursuit ofJustice Knopf Canada. xU, 352. $32.95 Isabel Vincent's book is a first-rate guide to recent revelations about the Swiss banks and their business dealings with Nazi Germany. She provides a historical perspective as well as forthright description of Swiss transgressions , and weaves into her account one Jewish family's ordeal, thus never letting us forget that her story is about human agony and loss, not about faceless statistics. HUMANITIES 549 This is investigative journalism at its best. Not only does Vincent provide valuable background to Swiss financial dealings with Nazi Germany, but also, and equally important, how and why these dealings became front-page news fifty years after the fact. After all, key elements of the story were known during the Second World War, and more were revealed at the Nuremberg trial. Thus it was common knowledge that the German occupiers had looted the national banks of the occupied; that jewellery was seized from concentrationcamp and death camp victims, and the gold fillings of the dead yanked out of their mouths; that all this looted gold was resmelted and sent to the Reichsbank; and finally, that the Swiss Bank for International Settlements bought this gold, paying for it in convertible Swiss francs which Germany used to import materials for its war effort. After the war, u.s. Intelligence estimated that these transactions were very substantial, worth about $6oo,ooo,ooo in wartime dollars. By the late 1940s, anyone who took the trouble to know could readily conclude that the Swiss banks were guilty of fencing stolen goods and moneylaundering for a genocidal regime. Nothing was made of it, and the Swiss conscience was Wltroubled. Up until the 1990s, most Swiss cherished their self-congratulatory image as plucky neutrals whose citizen army gave Hitler second thoughts about invading, and whose neutrality enabled their country to serve the best interests of humanity...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 548-550
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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