In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 395 There are also ambiguities about the vulnerability of various CPR creditors. The most important of these was the Bank of Montreal, and there are numerous suggestions that the financial collapse of the CPR would inevitably result in the ruin of all its creditors. Elsewhere, however, it is suggested that in the event of a crash only the Bank of Toronto and the Bank of Montreal would survive (323). No explanation is offered regarding the manner in which those banks had apparently protected themselves. In short, those who want to understand, rather than marvel at, the financial jugglers' slight of hand will find this work disappointing. They will, however, gain much knowledge and understanding of the life, times, personality, and character of one of Canada's most distinguished businessmen from this colourful, carefully documented, and well-written biography. T.D. REGEHR University of Calgary Propaganda and Censorship during Canada's Great War. TEFFREY A. KESHEN. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press 1996. Pp. xviii, 334, illus. $29.95 Jeffrey Keshen is interested in the truth about the Canadian state's program ofuntruth, censorship, and propaganda during the Great War. He notes by way of introduction that the war's historiography on the home front does not contain a systematic examination of the state's campaign of censorship and propaganda and its effects during and after the conflagration. Keshen frames his wide-ranging study as an investigation ofthe character, effectiveness, and impact of 'information management' in shaping the experience and meaning ofthe Great War for Canadians who remained by the home fires. This quest has led Keshen to examine how the liberal state, in a most illiberal manner, suppressed accurate reports of the horror and ineptitude so typical of the war. And, recognizing propaganda as the natural ally of censorship, he has investigated how the state contrived, at the behest of Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest J. Chambers, Canada's chief press censor, to disseminate mostly deceitful reports about the war and the forward march of Canada's heroic armed forces. These reports were circulated through newspapers, posters, sermons, speeches, newsreels, and mostly American movie reels. Chambers's reach extended to the 1000 books published from 1914 to 1918 about the war; none ventured realistic accounts of front-line slaughter. Indeed, Chambers's shadow hangs over the entire effort of suppression and deception. As chief press censor, a position created by 396 The Canadian Historical Review order-in-council in June 1915, Chambers was given authority, subject to the approval ofthe secretary of state, to prohibit any report or commentary that might, in his view, hinder the successful prosecution of the war. As well, Chambers had and used the power to censor mail and to eavesdrop on telephone conversations. He encountered little opposition. The intervention of the state in the life of Canada's mass media triggered few objections. Chambers's work in Canada was aided and abetted by the imaginative initiatives of Max Aitken as Canada's official 'eye-witness' to front-line combat, and later in his capacity as director of the Canadian War Records Office in London. The moral core of Keshen's narrative takes shape on the terrain of necessity. Though he acknowledges that wartime propaganda and censorship were 'among the most brazen affronts to democracy in the country's history,' still, the 'necessity of stamping out information jeopardizing national security or morale' (109) justified the state's campaign. Of course, deception had its costs. Soldiers, victimized by war, returned home to uncomprehending family and friends incapable of understanding the insidious effects of the brutality of war. Keshen argues that similar, though less damaging, collective delusions are reflected in the romantic images of duty, sacrifice, and bravery that dominate the country's collective memory of the war. Though a vigilant copy editor would have remedied the author's tendency to prolixity, this is a sound book, well researched and informative . Yet Keshen's assessment of Canada's wartime program of misinformation and suppression remains unsatisfying. The Great War, the first total war waged under democratic conditions, triggered a widespread crisis of citizenship that deepened as the carnage was prolonged . The relentless costs of a war of attrition drove...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 395-397
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.