Book Launch: The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock by Guy St. Denis

On February 24, 2019 at 2pm, author and historian Guy St. Denis launched his newest book, The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock. The fully reserved event was held in the lovely Interpretive Centre of the Duff Baby House located at 221 Mill Street in Windsor, Ontario.

 

 

Duff-Baby House, 221 Mill Street Windsor, Ontario

Windsor, Ontario may seem an odd place to launch a book about Sir Isaac Brock but the author felt the General’s connection to the area, and especially to the place St. Denis chose for the launch, was strong. The Duff Baby House is thought to be the oldest building in Upper Canada and the author believes that given the historic home’s strong military connection, especially to the War of 1812, that Sir Isaac Brock visited at least twice. The first visit likely took place in 1810 and the second in 1812.  Though St. Denis did not locate a definitive primary source that would validate the hunch, his expert opinion of the stature of the visiting military official that his visiting a home so important in military history would have been a given.

 

St. Denis holding a confirmed picture of Sir Isaac Brock painted when the future military hero was 15 or 16 years old.

St. Denis has spent a decade wading through the hosts of portraits painted after the death of Brock at the Battle Queenston on October 13, 1812. A military hero, artists and historians after the death of Brock would accept the image of the hero. St. Denis, a lively and entertaining speaker, regaled the packed house with the story of his search for a true image. The cover image of The True Face of Isaac Brock, while perhaps the best known image of Brock is not actually a picture of the late General. The young, handsome, noble image is actually that of Lieutenant George Dunn. While St. Denis insisted to his publisher that no one should pretend the cover photo is actually Brock, its really the point of his research, isn’t it? A librarian way back when saw the image of the young and handsome Dunn and thought, “That’s what Brock should look like” and suddenly he gets a historic makeover. Why the portrait is cut off is a mystery to the author but makes for a book that will catch the eye of any history buff walking by a bookstore shelf.

 

St. Denis spoke for around 40 minutes about his book and future projects and he was such an engaging speaker that the time flew. The question period following was brief but imbued with laughter as one savvy attendee asked if Brock would be “someone he would like.” St. Denis, who is also writing a biography of Brock, shed some light on what he considered the General’s “humanity” and while he wasn’t initially a fan of the Six Nations, believed that opinion changed when the General met Tecumseh for whom he had great respect. A statue of the pair stands at a newly constructed roundabout leading from the east to Olde Sandwich Towne, the oldest area of Windsor.  Les Amis Duff Baby provided coffee and baked treats including a lovely cake featuring an image of the book’s cover. If only I’d been able to get a picture. I purchased a book which the author signed and must say, I can’t wait to start reading. The author’s next project is a study of the court martial of General Henry Procter.

 

Les Amis Duff Baby hosted a lovely and well organized event. To join them in their quest to preserve and educate, visit them on their Facebook page and send a message to administration.

 

Author and Historian Guy St. Denis

Guy St. Denis is pursuing a Ph.D in History at the University of Western Ontario. You can find The True Face of Sir Isaac Brock at Amazon CA

 

To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild

Publication Date: March 6, 2012

To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 is a look at the oft ignored World War I moral objectors along with those people who wholeheartedly believed in the cause.

 

 

 

Is it the job of the historian to moralize and pontificate? History is propaganda written by the winners so to read a book highlighting the moral objectors is supremely interesting. To sermonize that an event already placed in history shouldn’t have happened is not appealing. People died in World War I. It happened. It’s done. It’s 100 years in the past. History is about facts and while “woulda” “shoulda” and “coulda” are nice to suggest that a war in which an estimated 37 million people (civilian and military) died was a waste of human life. Maybe. But it happened and isn’t it a disservice to chide key figures in history making portraying them as Keystone Cop archetypes. Despite my distaste at the author’s position, the story of the objectors is one that should be told and was presented with delicacy, mindful of the challenges they faced.

To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 begins with the Boer War which took place from 1899-1902. The focus, of course, is British and the attention given to the war efforts of other countries ranges from dismissive to non-existent. Hochschild divides his attention between battlefield anecdotes and the stories of the protest movement. There’s a hero and villain mentality set. The good and just people speak out about the needless loss of life while the people whipping up frenzy for the war twirl their mustaches and rub their hands together in a metaphorical reflection of the animated Snidley Whiplash. The new information is in relation to the protestors and I think To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 would have been more interesting had Hochschild stuck with that angle instead of diverting to well tread ground in the war effort. Powerful families are divided by ideology and people who suffered great loss that they felt was needless are painted with a loving and valiant brush.

Okay, so I’m going a little hard on the author. It’s okay to have favorites and agree with one side over the other. The problem with preference in this case is that it really is at the expense of what is, at it’s core, a pretty good book. We, as people, do tend to be for or against issues and do tend to paint the other side with the broad stroke of ignorance, at best, and cruelty, at worst. As a history of World War I, To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 falls short but as a narration of a few key players in the effort against the war, it excels even if some of what reads as hyperbole should be taken with a grain of salt.

I’m going to call a To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 a “must be read for oneself” book. Hochschild is well regarded as a historian and has a critically acclaimed bibliography of era and occasion focused works. Pick it up if the description appeals and let me know what you think.

Buy To End All Wars; a Story of Love, Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild on Amazon U.S. Amazon U.K. Amazon CA

 

 

Rabid Reader’s Book List for Human Rights Day 2017

This year again, Rabid Reader’s Reviews presents a list of books dealing with human rights. In light of the events, human rights violations have increased and become a pressing issue worldwide.

 

To Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin

Review quotes:

“There’s an electricity of fear and suspicion in the people. It was believed that Dreyfus would be a traitor because he was a Jew.”

“To Live Out Loud is an outstanding work of historical fiction and a must-read for everyone, especially those interested in the history of human rights violations.” 

Read the complete To Live Out Loud: A Novel by Paulette Mahurin review here.    Continue reading Rabid Reader’s Book List for Human Rights Day 2017

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Publication Date: March 10, 2015

 

EL_Death_WakeOn Friday, May 7, 1915 a German U-Boat sunk the RMS Lusitania. [easyazon_link identifier=”0307408868″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]“Dead Wake”[/easyazon_link] tells the true story and political machinations and personalities behind the tragic event nearly 100 years ago.

 

Continue reading Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Windfall by Colin Dodds

Publication Date: January 29, 2014

 

Windfall by Colin DoddsIn Windfall by Colin Dodds, Seth Tatton is an average guy who practices law by day. By night, Seth is a hit man for a super secret organization made up of the 1%. With each hit, the organization’s plans become clearer to Seth and he’s finding himself more entrenched in their plot. What Seth doesn’t realize that there are forces at work within himself eager to use his unique skills but when he’s called upon for a special task, will everything change?

 

 

Continue reading Windfall by Colin Dodds

New Stars for Old by Marc Read

Publication Date: July 9, 2013

 

New Stars for Old by Marc ReadNew Stars for Old by Marc Read is a collection of 20 short stories highlighting the human aspect of science through entertaining tales starring key historical figures.

 

 

 

Continue reading New Stars for Old by Marc Read

1963: Year of Hope and Hostility by Reverend Byron Williams

Publication Date: July 28, 2013

 

1963 was a key year in the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Williams highlights events and personalities of the day that may not have seemed connected in his book but contributed to the advance toward equality.

 

 

 

Continue reading 1963: Year of Hope and Hostility by Reverend Byron Williams

The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins III

Publication Date: May 3, 2012

 

The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins IIIThe Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins III is a fictional account detailing the real events surrounding Operation Restore Hope, a military relief mission to Somalia. The story follows the footsteps of Gunnery Sergeant Thompson from volunteering for the mission to his final days in Somalia.

 

 

Continue reading The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins III

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

 

MO_No_Easy_DayMark Owen recounts his Seal training, the previously unreported missions that his team executed and the ultimate mission in which Osama Bin Laden fell. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden is a first-hand account of the War on Terror.

 

 

 

Continue reading No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden by Mark Owen