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Read the Times Literary Supplement review
Read the Maclean’s Magazine review
This ground-breaking book brings to life a forgotten chapter in the history of Canada and Russia – the journey of 4,200 Canadian soldiers from Victoria to Vladivostok in 1918 to help defeat Bolshevism. Combining military and labour history with the social history of BC, Quebec, and Russia, Benjamin Isitt examines how the Siberian Expedition exacerbated tensions within Canadian society at a time when a radicalized working class, many French-Canadians, and even the soldiers themselves objected to a military adventure designed to counter the Russian Revolution. The result is a highly readable and provocative work that challenges public memory of the First World War while illuminating tensions – both in Canada and worldwide – that shaped the course of twentieth-century history.
“Benjamin Isitt’s fascinating study of the Canadian contribution to the military expedition to Siberia designed to crush Lenin’s nascent Communist state punches a large hole in how much of Canada’s chattering class conceives of the country.”
—Nathan M. Greenfield, review in Times Literary Supplement“
Isitt’s extensive analysis of why we were there—mostly trying to deprive revolutionary workers at home of an international beacon—is convincing, as is his ironic conclusion: the blatant class warfare of the expedition did more to incite radicalism at home than it did to suppress it in Russia.”
—Brian Bethune, review in Maclean’s Magazine
“Isitt’s work is new, innovative, and important. He deftly weaves the Canadian working class opposition to war and the rising leftist sentiment among workers with the inner life of the Siberian Expedition itself … No less important, he melds a national story with an international one. He reveals new aspects of international cooperation in the attempt to suppress the Bolshevik revolution as well as international rivalries among the countries that intervened in Russia.”
—Larry Hannant, editor of The Politics of Passion: Norman Bethune’s Writing and Art
“From Victoria to Vladivostok sheds new light on a part of Canadian history that previous scholars have written off as a mere sideshow, a rather embarrassing episode that had no impact on the First World War. In contrast, Isitt sees the problems that befell the Expedition as being rooted in conflicting views of Bolshevism in Canada, and different perceptions of the logic behind an intervention in Russia. In this, his contribution is both significant and original.”
—Jonathan Vance, author of Unlikely Soldiers: How Two Canadians Fought the Secret War against Nazi Occupation
For more information, visit Dr. Isitt’s Siberian Expedition Virtual Exhibition & Digital Archive.