The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost, 1915-1919
Hardcover 420 pp.
Online discount: 25%
The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost, 1915–1919 brings to light the correspondence between two officer brothers and their family at home from 1915 to 1919. Despite wartime censorship, Leslie and Cecil wrote frank and forthright letters that show how the young men viewed the war, as well as what they observed both during training and from the trenches in some of the war’s bloodiest battles. The letters also deal with the war’s political context, including conscription and the Union government, as well as social issues such as the emerging role of women, the role of the growing middle class, nativism, and the use of liquor overseas.
R.B. Fleming, the collection’s editor, contends that Leslie Frost’s military experiences and hospitalization affected his policies as premier of Ontario (1949–1961), especially those related to medicare and liquor control laws. Frost’s government was the first to pass laws providing penalties for racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination on private property, creating a movement that led to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost, 1915–1919 makes a significant contribution to military history and social history. Fleming places the letters in context and shows the value of their commentary. This book will be of interest to the general reader as well as scholars of military history and social history.
R.B. Fleming is a lecturer and research associate at the Frost Centre, Trent University. His previous publications include Eldon Connections, an illustrated local history of Eldon Township, Ontario; General Stores of Canada, including the one in which he was raised; and The Railway King of Canada, a biography of Sir William Mackenzie. His articles have appeared in The Beaver as well as academic journals.
“These richly detailed letters by intelligent, perceptive observers help us understand how middle-class English Canadians viewed the war, their country, the Empire, and themselves.... [T]he letters are evocative, informative, and telling of the kind of place Canada was during the war and of how soldiers coped with training, combat, and, oftern, crushing boredom. For those interested in Frost’s political career, the collection offers fresh insight into the formative years and events of his intellectual, ideological, and political development.”
— Serge Durflinger, University of Ottawa, Histoire socialeSocial History
“[A] compelling testament.... Despite wartime censorship...their letters are remarkably frank and forthright, and offer insightful remarks on their comrades, the sometime absurdity of soldiering, and, of course, England.... The letters also deal with the war’s political context, including conscription and the Union government, as well as social issues such as the emerging role of women, the role of the growing middle class, nativism, and the use of liquor overseas... And there’s plenty of humour.... The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost, 1915-1919 makes a significant contribution to Canadian military and social history. Ultimately Fleming places the letters in context and shows the value of their commentary, with an additional bonus: They’re a delight to read.”
— Heather Harrington, The Canada Post
“R.B. Fleming has brought together a fascinating collection of letters in this latest contribution to the history of the First World War. The writings of brothers Leslie and Cecil Frost to their parents not only illustrate life as Canadian soldiers stationed overseas, but also provide insight into the formative years of two young men who eventually helped to shape the political culture of Ontario.... In bringing together this collection into a well-structured and user-friendly volume, Fleming has helped to liberate some of these forgotten voices, and to provide new insights into the Canadian experience of the First World War.... By providing an abundance of context for the correspondence of these two boys from small-town Ontario, Fleming has produced a volume that will be of great benefit to professors, students, and anyone with a general interest in the First World War.”
— Dorotea Gucciardo, University of Western Ontario, H-Net
“Thanks to the deft editorial work of Rae B. Fleming, we have a chance to experience the war as it seemed for Leslie and Cecil Frost.... Leslie and Cecil are great writers...illuminating and fascinating.... This is a delightful book with rich insights that I read and traversed in a single sitting. The writing is that good. The editorial introduction is fast-paced and covers all the ground that was needed.... Rae Fleming is a superb editor. He found ways to let the letters speak for themselves. However, by clever use of the introduction, the informative chapter endnotes, and the appendix on names, he opens a world of insight.”
— Dr. Elwood Jones, Heritage Gazette of the Trent Valley
“A wonderful collection of correspondence—frank, perceptive, and witty. The Frosts were keen observers and shared a gift for bringing their experiences to life in their letters home. They give us a fascinating glimpse of everything from the conscription debate to the morals of their men. This book is a delight for anyone who is interested in the First World War or who simply wants to read an insightful and informed series of letters.”
— Jonathan F. Vance, author of Building Canada: People and Projects That Shaped the Nation (2006)
“The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost is a remarkablee document of its times and for our times. Superbly edited by R.B. Fleming and complemented by maps and nearly fifty original photographs from the era, the letters capture a young and close-knit family’s patriotic commitment to the Allied cause in the Great War, which gives way slowly to the constant recordings of the deaths of their friends. In the two brothers’ growing perceptions and insights into the war come the political attitudes that sent them later into the Ontario Conservative Party, which they reshaped along more progressive lines. In this way, the letters from the intellectual basis for forty years of Tory rule in Ontario.”
— David Staines