Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review of "From Gauntlet to Overlord" by Ross Munro

In 1945, Ross Munro's war memoir "From Gauntlet to Overlord" won the Governor-General's Award for Literary Merit in nonfiction. Munro served as the Candian Press's war correspondent in Europe and North Africa. "From Gauntlet to Overlord" details Munro's time with the Canadian Army, with a specific focus on the Normandy invasion and the development of the distinctly Canadian army.

As one might expect, Munro writes in a clear, concise style and includes a nice amount of details. Munro has a more balanced style than I expect from war correspondents, as they generally establish close relationships with the soldiers they come to know, which influences their writing. While it is clear that Munro had some close friendships with certain Canadian soldiers (which he is transparent about), he also manages to write a very balanced account. He humanizes all of his subjects including enemy soldiers. In addition, he does not shy away from the destructivness of war.He also provides nice insight into the unique position of the war correspondent, entirely dependent on the military, and yet clearly separate. Munro relies on the army completely for access, information, and even the ability to transmit his articles, yet he strives to maintain a level of objectivity.

Overall, Munro depicts the war honestly and with humour and humility. He makes his surroundings, motivations, and interests very clear, and he writes without artifice. Anyone who is interested in a first person perspective on the Second World War, and the Canadian Army in particular would be well-served by Munro's book as would anyone interested in the reality of the war correspondent.

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