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 Featured Title
Death or Deliverance
Canadian Courts Martial in the Great War
Teresa Iacobelli  

$90.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 9/5/2013
ISBN: 9780774825672    

$32.95 Paperback
Release Date: 1/1/2014
ISBN: 9780774825689    

192 Pages

Studies in Canadian Military History series


About the Book

Winner, 2013 C.P. Stacey Prize, Canadian Commission for Military History and the Canadian Committee on the History of the Second World War

Soldiers found guilty of desertion or cowardice during the Great War faced death by firing squad. In this revealing look at military law in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, historian Teresa Iacobelli examines the cases of 25 Canadian soldiers who were executed by their own military as well as the untold stories of the 197 men who were sentenced to death but spared.

Death or Deliverance -- the first book to consider commuted sentences alongside cases that ended in tragic executions -- offers a nuanced account of military law in the Great War. Novels, histories, movies, and television series often depict courts martial as brutal and inflexible, and social memories of this system of frontline justice have inspired modern movements to seek pardons for soldiers executed on the battlefield. Beyond well-known stories of unyielding and callous generals, however, lies another story, one of a disciplinary system capable of thoughtful review and compassion for the individual soldier.

Published to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, this book reconsiders an important and unexamined chapter in the history of both a war and a nation.

About the Author(s)

Teresa Iacobelli received a doctorate in history from the University of Western Ontario in 2010 and is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow. Her current research examines how the two world wars have been portrayed in popular media and how these depictions have shaped Canadian identity and social memories of war.

Table of Contents

1 Competing Ideologies
2 Military Law: An Overview
3 The Crimes
4 The Court Martial Process
5 The Confirmation Process
6 Pardon Campaigns
Notes; Bibliography; Index


"Death or Deliverance tells an important story, that of desertion in the First World War and the ways in which the army reacted. Investigating the later campaign to pardon the soldiers shot for that offence, Iacobelli adopts an entirely original approach -- she incorporates the stories of those soldiers found guilty of desertion but who avoided the firing squad. The book’s conclusions and its many comparisons between military law and civilian jurisprudence at the time are sure to spark scholarly debate."
-- Bill Rawling, author of Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918

"Death or Deliverance corrects many misconceptions about the subject of military justice in the Canadian Corps. While it will have significant appeal for Canadian and other historians of Great War military history and legal history, it will also enjoy a popular readership because of its gripping subject matter."
-- Patrick Brennan, fellow of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

History > Canada
History > Military

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Death or Deliverance from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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