Though he died in 1921, his name can still conjure up controversy and not a little misunderstanding. His long career—in so many respects the quintessential story of a poor backwoods Ontario farm boy who made good by his own efforts—continues to exert a fascination that few other Canadian political figures could duplicate.
Even though there has never been a major scholarly study of Sam Hughes, historians and other writers have developed definite opinions about him, and they are held nearly as vigorously as those of his contemporaries. These vary from insisting that Hughes was mentally unbalanced to proclaiming him a genius. Hughes’ defenders have rarely been professional historians. Neither side have not produced an extensive or definitive literature on Hughes in proportion to other figures of a similar public stature.
Whatever side the studies have taken, the assessments are still incomplete because they have not examined the entirety of Sam Hughes’ public life. To a large extent these limitations have allowed the folk image of him to persist. But Hughes had fibre and substance beyond this. Since historical figures must be explained in terms of their environment, this study tries to redress the previous imbalances by examining Hughes’ public career. It is the only way his historical significance can be explained and reasonable judgments made.
"Captain Boyer and I are leaving for London to buy a motor car for the regiment. We will be staying at the Savoy."
Flanders. 27 October 1915. Diary entry: 4:00 p.m.
"Returned to the trenches. After two days of rain, they are in a deplorable state. There is mud up to our knees. The parapets have collapsed in several spots. The nights are frigid, our feet are cold, and we have not yet received our supplies of wood and charcoal."
In the field. 1 August 1918.
"You will pardon the brevity and the looseness of this letter when you know under what conditions it has been written. What you wish to know above all I can tell you at once. I am well - in fact I do not think I have ever been quite so well in body and in spirit. I have been protected in a special manner during the last three days. I have seen so many narrow escapes myself that I am beginning to think that one should not worry much about possible eventualities."
No. 8 British Red Cross Hospital, Boulogne. 6 September 1918.
"By this time you will have received reassuring cablegrams and field postcards and possibly letters from friends of mine.
"First, to be quite frank, I will admit that I have not been in fit condition to write a coherent letter ..."
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an ’iron curtain’ has descended across the continent."
These words, uttered by Winston Churchill in 1946, heralded the beginning of the Cold War. In this first-hand account of a NATO soldier, Terry Stoney Burke paints a graphic picture of military life at the height of the Cold War. From the trials and tribulations of basic training, through his progress of becoming an infantryman and explosive specialist, to his posting in Germany, his pull no punches narrative tells the sometimes humorous, often poignant, story of life as a common soldier.
Cold War Soldieris not a book for veterans alone. Burkes explanations of military procedures, weapons, and army life strike a happy balance between reminding ex-servicemen of things they knew but may have forgotten, and creating a clear picture for the military novice.