Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Wave Goodbye — Please!

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Wave Goodbye — Please!

To coincide with the visit earlier this year of hopefully not-the-next-President of the United States, John McCain, the London Daily Telegraph has published an excerpt from his book, Hard Times: Great Decision and Extraordinary People Who Made Them.

The names are tediously predictable and have been written about a million times. So, even though he had a co-writer, it can't have taken him more than ten minutes to dash off another vital entry into our literary pantheon. Uncharacteristically, he has not named himself in this list of "great achievers" who include Winston Churchill, Jackie Robinson, Abraham Lincoln, Anwar Sadat, Menachim Begin, and one woman, Channel swimmer, Gertrude Ederle.

The Telegraph excerpted his chapter on Churchill, which fairly wets itself when describing this so-called genius and his amazing knowledge of military strategy as exemplified in the First World War when he was First Lord of the Admiralty.

One of the book jacket blurbs describes McCain's "Hard Call" as a testament to the people whose choices serve as a beacon for us all.

Well if Churchill were a beacon as First Sea Lord, no wonder so many British ships sank under his guidance. But it's not as a comedic naval tactician many will remember him. And, oddly, McCain makes no mention of the campaign that should have sunk the drunken, egotistical upper class buffoon for good. Gallipoli.

In six months of criminal insanity in 1915, Churchill ordered his officers, to sentence a quarter of a million Allied soldiers, British, Australian and New Zealanders to death by trying to take an impenetrable part of a Turkish cliff. It is now regarded as one of the greatest military blunders of the twentieth century.

The architect was the wretched, deeply flawed Churchill who regarded "colonials" as expendable. For Australian and New Zealand (Anzac) soldiers in combat for "King and Country" for the first time, it was a sickening, terrifying initiation. It was also a defining time in their nations' histories. Now they understood what it really meant to be a colonial. Cannon fodder for the superior British.

Anzac love for Churchill is to this day, well, not overwhelming. And my guess is McCain has never heard of Gallipoli or any part of history that does not serve his own ambitions. And we learn a little more about him each day.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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John Scully

John Scully has been a journalist for almost fifty years and has covered stories in seventy countries for major international news and current affairs organizations. His book, Am I Dead Yet? A Journalist's Perspective on Terrorism, was published in spring 2008 by Fitzhenry and Whiteside.

Go to John Scully’s Author Page