The Vimy Trap shows us with skill and compassion how difficult it is to honor those who die in war without glorifying war itself. A tract for the times. – Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History, Yale University
Join Jamie Swift, co-author (with Ian McKay) of The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War for a talk on the book.
The story of the bloody 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge is, according to many of today’s tellings, a heroic founding moment for Canada. This noble, birth-of-a-nation narrative is regularly applied to the Great War in general. Yet this mythical tale is rather new. “Vimyism”— today’s official story of glorious, martial patriotism—contrasts sharply with the complex ways in which veterans, artists, clerics, and even politicians who had supported the war interpreted its meaning over the decades.
Was the Great War a futile imperial debacle? A proud, nation-building milestone? Contending Great War memories have helped to shape how later wars were imagined. The Vimy Trap provides a powerful probe of commemoration cultures. This subtle, fast-paced work of public history—combining scholarly insight with sharp-eyed journalism, and based on primary sources and school textbooks, battlefield visits and war art—explains both how and why peace and war remain contested terrain in ever-changing landscapes of Canadian memory.