Noah Richler 16 October at the Stockey Centre WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR
WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR What We Talk About When We Talk About War is the most recent book by Noah Richler – an exceptional thinker and writer – in the words of Stephen Lewis, a writer of “courage and insight”.
Noah Richler will talk with us about WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR at the Charles W. Stockey Centre on Wednesday 16 October at 7:30 pm.
For each of us, what we talk about when we talk about war is as personal and as different as we are as individuals. My generation – the baby boomers – grew up as the children of those who fought in the Second World War and, or, Korea. I remember the scare of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis – we really thought it might be the end of the world – as we hid under our desks at school. We are old enough to remember the nightly news with the body count of those killed in Vietnam. We came of age during the migration of young Americans to Canada, avoiding the draft – we went to University with them, many of us married them.
I realize that as a reader, we also have a fascination with war – and wartime - in the literature that we read. Just think about how many novels are still being written that take place during the First and Second World Wars - it was a time of drama and suspense – and, as writers and readers, we love it.
Noah Richler introduces his book with a discussion about men and war – the years that boys spend preparing to be warriors. Think for a moment about how little boys play and behave, and you know exactly what he means.
As the daughter of a career officer in the Canadian military I grew up with an awareness about war – and peace. My father fought in Europe during the Second World War and in Korea – he came home in between these wars to marry, reproduce and attend officer’s training school.
For much of my father’s career he worked as a Canadian liaison officer attached to the British Armed Forces or NATO. Some postings were in Germany with his family along. There in the late 1960s our neighbor, a member of the British Armed Forces, was transferred to Ireland. It was supposed to be for a short time – the British Forces were there for years – and still there is no real peace. Then there were the “unaccompanied” postings. The Gaza strip in 1959 and 1960, “keeping the peace”. There were a few years in the early 1960s with the British in West Africa, training Ghanaian cadets for the military under Kwame Nkrumah – an army that ousted him in a coup after we returned to Canada. In 1967 and 1968 he was in Cyprus with NATO before returning to Canada, followed again by a posting to West Germany.
My father left the military by the time I was an adult, and my experience since the late 1960s is much the same as yours – news of war on television. I will admit to being a “peacenik” as a teenager – but now I am simply a confused, sad and disillusioned adult when I think about peace. I am afraid I don’t believe it is possible. I see only the destruction that war brings – and there seem to be more and more places in the world at war. We are very fortunate to be citizens of a country that has known only peace in my lifetime. Growing up I knew how lucky I was to be a Canadian and I know that now more than ever. What Noah Richler writes about is how we have changed – no longer a nation known for our peacekeepers, but a nation with a military fighting, “feet on the ground” as they say. How many members of our military have been killed in Afghanistan? That is not peace keeping. And where else are we? Where else will the men and woman currently serving in our armed forces find themselves fighting?
Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919 writes, “You don’t have to agree with everything Noah Richler says — I don’t — but you must take him seriously.” What we talk about when we talk about war is an important conversation – an exploration of our past, present and future. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend an evening with Noah Richler.