Just finished reading 'Dear Bill' Letters to Dad 1939-1945 The War Years by Wendy Hamilton and Catherine Pavlik. Not since reading Barry Broadfoot's 'Six War Years 1939-1945 and Broadfoot's 'Ten Lost Years' about the Depression years in Canada have I enjoyed the commentaries of family and friends' views of current events at that particular juncture in our history. The enjoyment of reading all three of these books is due in my mind because it is the accounts of average Canadians during the war years, and/or the Depression Years, not the accounts of academic historians. This viewpoint, through their set of lenses of the time period, presents 'real life' glimpses of soldiers lives at home and on the various military 'fronts' as well as families and friends at home dealing with the indirect and direct consequences of a world war. In my humble opinion, the best method to understand a time in our history is by reading the thoughts of Canadians revealed through their writings, diaries and letters during that time period. Letters to Bill brings us back to a time of international turmoil whilst chronicling how a typical Canadian family and their community dealt with these consequences. Are there plot jolts that keep the reader turning the pages in anticipation. No, it is not that type of book. Rather, it captures the reality of the time, the normalcy of living on the home front contrasted with the uncertainty of a world at war. It is the spirit and character of that generation who had to respond to a world conflict yet carry on with their lives that shines through. Our father, Wing Commander T.J. MacKinnon (1916-1979) fought in Bomber Command in WW II out of the U.K. and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Yet, when my brothers and I asked our dad to tell us exciting war stories he would quietly say, "there are no exciting war stories only sad stories!" and not comment further. 'Letters to Dad' helps us better understand the mindset of Canadians who dealt firsthand with the consequences of that conflict and carried on. Thanks to Wendy Hamilton and Catherine Pavlik for giving us that opportunity.
- Hugh MacKinnon , Comox, B.C.