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category: History
published: Jan 2017
publisher: UBC Press

Zombie Army

The Canadian Army and Conscription in the Second World War

by Daniel Byers


Zombie Army tells the story of Canada’s Second World War military conscripts – reluctant soldiers pejoratively referred to as “zombies” for their perceived similarity to the mindless movie monsters of the 1930s. In the first full-length book on the subject in almost forty years, Byers combines underused and newly discovered records to argue that although conscripts were only liable for home defence, they soon became a steady source of recruits from which the army found volunteers to serve overseas. He also challenges the traditional nationalist-dominated impression that Quebec participated only grudgingly in the war.

About the Author

Daniel Byers

Contributor Notes

Daniel Byers is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Laurentian University. He has published in the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, Canadian Military History, the Canadian Army Journal, the Bulletin d’histoire politique, and Ontario History.

Editorial Reviews

…by far the most complete account to date of conscription in Canada during the Second World War.

— Canadian Military History, Vol 27, Issue 2

Somewhat ironically given the book’s title, Zombie Army is a very human story about the Canadian World War II experience. It deserves a prominent place in both libraries and university classrooms.

— Canadian Journal of History, Volume 52, Number 2

Since it illustrates a topic that could not have been written in earlier decades, there is much for the Second World War historian to learn from Zombie Army.

— The Canadian Historical Review, Volume 98, Number 4

Byers provides us with an impeccably researched look at the daily grind of these soldiers, the way they were perceived by the local populations, their ethnic composition, or where and how they served.

— The British Journal of Canadian Studies, Volume 31, Number 1

Zombie Army tells the whole arresting story with an even hand and smart commentary. The work is as compelling as the subject.

— Blacklock's Reporter, February 2017

Zombie Army adds yet another important study to the large codex of Canadian Second World War literature, adding new life to a topic that has not been investigated in detail for many years.

— Canadian Army Journal, 17.2

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