The Battle and the Legend

  • Language:
  • English
    Allan Lane Canada/Penguin Canada
About Vimy:

A bold new telling of the defining battle of the Great War, and how it came to signify and solidify Canada’s national identity

Why does Vimy matter? Tim Cook, Canada’s foremost military historian and a Charles Taylor Prize winner, examines the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and the way the memory of it has evolved over 100 years. Vimy is unlike any other battle in Canadian history: it has been described as the “birth of the nation.” But the meaning of that phrase has never been explored, nor has any writer explained why the battle continues to resonate with Canadians. The Vimy battle that began April 9, 1917, was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together. 10,600 men were killed or injured over four days–twice the casualty rate of the Dieppe Raid in August 1942.

Cook has uncovered new material and photographs from official archives and private collections across Canada and from around the world. Many of these resources have never been used before by other historians, writers, or film-makers.

This new book is about more than a defining battle: it is a story of Canadian identity and memory, by a writer who brings history alive.

Awards, Nominations, and Distinctions:

#1 National BestsellerThe Globe and Mail

Longlist – British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Shortlist – J.W. Dafoe Prize

Critical Praise:

Through this book, Cook — who has now written nine Canadian military tomes — cements himself as the nation’s premier military historian.

The Vancouver Sun

[Cook] is clearly a master at handling vast amounts of information and winnowing it down to a highly-readable, interesting and informative narrative...There is no one better equipped to retell the Vimy story than Cook.


An admirable, balanced and very readable study that catches the elusive power this First World War battle and monument have had in our history.

The Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author(s):

TIM COOK is Chief Historian and Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum. His bestselling books have won multiple awards, including three Ottawa Book prizes for Literary Non-Fiction and two C.P. Stacey Awards for the best book in Canadian military history. In 2008 he won the J.W. Dafoe Prize for At the Sharp End and again in 2018 for VimyThe Battle and the LegendShock Troops won the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. Cook is a frequent commentator in the media, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada and the Order of Canada.

Other Editions:
  • English (Paperback)

Other Books by Tim Cook:
  • At the Sharp End

  • Fight to the Finish

  • Lifesavers and Body Snatchers

  • Shock Troops

  • The Madman and the Butcher

  • The Necessary War

  • The Secret History of Soldiers

  • Warlords