Why do soldiers fight? What keeps them going? What compels them to face death when their long-time comrades have fallen around them? Strangers in Arms addresses these questions in a groundbreaking study of the behaviour, morale, and motivations of Canadian infantrymen on the front lines of the Second World War. Canada's army has long faced intense criticism for its combat performance during the war, and Canada's official history has presented Canadian soldiers as deficient, inexperienced, and unprepared in comparison with their enemies. Questioning entrenched views, Robert Engen explores a trove of contemporaneous documents to create a remarkable new portrait of Canadians at war. Rather than the popular "band of brothers" image of soldier cohesion in battle, he finds staggering casualty rates and personnel turmoil that left Canadian infantrymen often working with and fighting beside men they hardly knew. Yet these strangers in arms continued to fight - effectively and in good spirits - against a tenacious and deadly enemy, triumphing in the face of heartrending loss and sacrifice. Challenging old narratives about the Canadian soldier and supported by cutting-edge empirical and qualitative research, Strangers in Arms crafts a new understanding of what happens at the sharp end of battle.
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