Monday, July 24, 2017

This month at Canada's History

The current Canada's History, now reaching subscribers, takes note of the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid of August 1942 with a long and vigorous essay by David O'Keefe, ex-soldier and historian at Marionopolis College in Montreal.

O'Keefe focusses the article around the argument he set out in his 2013 book One Day in August: that all the raid's official objectives were cover for an intelligence project to steal one of the new-model Enigma machine so vital to the communications-intelligence war.

Perhaps because my father was a combat soldier up at the sharp end for a substantial part of the European Second World War, I'm inclined to look sceptically at arguments that the Second World War was really fought by intelligence boffins, with such things as armoured divisions and massed infantry being mostly a sideshow. (Remember A Man Called Intrepid?)  And I don't easily discount the likelihood that big military screw-ups like Dieppe were, in fact, just big screw-ups.

But O'Keefe is more rational than that, and his book, which I have not read, got admiring reviews from serious students of the issue, I do recall.  The mag has the tl;dr version, I guess.

Also this month: Carolyn Harris's celebration of Canadian place names culturally appropriated over the years to honour various members of the British royalty family. (Carolyn always reminds me why I'm a Canadian republican!). Plus Icelandic settlers, Grenfell missions, and reviews of, among others, D, Peter MacLeod's Backs to the Wall and The Vimy Myth by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift (which I liked a lot more than the reviewer does, but there you go).

My own column is, in a roundabout way, about how little the centrality of the treaty relationship to the potential for Reconciliation is grasped, even at senior levels of government.
Recently I talked with David Paul Achneepineskum. He has worked on self-government and resource issues since he was a kid at Marten Falls on Ontario’s Albany River. Today he is CEO of the council of chiefs in the Ring of Fire region. After forty years effort he says, “There is no knowledge! Even at the government level, with senior bureaucrats and middle management, there is absolutely no knowledge of treaties. So there is no will at the political level to talk about treaties.”
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