Cold Fire

Cold Fire

Kennedy's Northern Front

Book - 2016
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Random House, Inc.

Forget all you think you know about the Kennedy years. With narrative flair and sparkling storytelling, acclaimed historian John Boyko explores the crucial period when America and its allies were fighting the Cold War's most treacherous battles, Canadians were trading sovereignty for security, and everyone feared a nuclear holocaust.

At the centre of this story are three leaders. President John F. Kennedy pledged to pay any price to advance his vision for America's defence and needed Canada to step smartly in line. Fighting him at every turn was Conservative prime minister John Diefenbaker, an unapologetic nationalist trying to bolster Canada's autonomy. Liberal leader Lester Pearson, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, sought a middle ground.
     Boyko employs meticulous research and newly released documents to present shocking revelations. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Canadian warships guarded America's Atlantic coast and Canada suffered a silent coup d'état. Canada was involved in Kennedy's sliding America into Vietnam. Kennedy knew the nuclear missiles he was forcing on Canada would be decoys, there only to draw Soviet nuclear fire. Kennedy's pollster and political adviser travelled to Ottawa under a fake passport to help defeat the Canadian government. And, perhaps most startlingly, if not for Diefenbaker, Kennedy may have survived the bullets in Dallas.

Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, c2016
ISBN: 9780345808936
Branch Call Number: 973.922 BOY
Characteristics: 373 p. ;,24 cm.


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Sep 01, 2016

While the first half of Cold Fire is simply a retread from other books like Knowlton Nash's Kennedy and Diefenbaker, the second half is where the story gets really interesting. Since many books dealing with this era in Canada/U.S. relations tend to be pro-JFK and anti-Diefenbaker, I'm glad that John Boyko presented a more nuanced look. In fact, by the end of reading his book, I had a much greater respect for the Chief, who faced an American president that engaged in dirty tricks and subterfuge in order to oust him in 1962 and 1963. But most importantly, the author contends that the Cuban Missile Crisis played an enormous role in Canadian politics; after this pivotal event, Canadians viewed the U.S. President and not the PM as their protector. A great read, especially for younger people who aren't familiar with this time period.

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