Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History General

Blood and Daring

How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation

by (author) John Boyko

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
May 2014
General, Canada, Civil War Period (1850-1877)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


Blood and Daring will change our views not just of Canada's relationship with the United States, but of the Civil War, Confederation and Canada itself.
     In Blood and Daring, lauded historian John Boyko makes a compelling argument that Confederation occurred when and as it did largely because of the pressures of the Civil War. Many readers will be shocked by Canada's deep connection to the war--Canadians fought in every major battle, supplied arms to the South, and many key Confederate meetings took place on Canadian soil.
     Filled with engaging stories and astonishing facts from previously unaccessed primary sources, Boyko's fascinating new interpretation of the war will appeal to all readers of history.

About the author

John Boyko has earned degrees from McMaster, Queen's, and Trent universities. Bennett is his fourth book addressing Canadian history and politics. Reviews of this biography of Bennett, praise him for his "encyclopaedic knowledge of Canadian history," his "engaging style," and his ability to "make the most arid political debate interesting." He has written a bi-weekly newspaper column and a number of op. ed. articles, has spoken throughout the country, and appeared on regional and national radio and television programs. He has been elected to municipal council and served on a number of boards. John Boyko is also an educator. He is the Director of Entrepreneurial Programs and Northcote Campus at Lakefield College School. He lives in Lakefield, Ontario.

John Boyko's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A wonderful and seamless popular history full of colourful characters, intrigue and political backstabbing of the first order. Though there is no secret as to how the book ends . . . he deftly adds enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages. . . . Boyko’s accomplished narrative is precisely the kind of popular history that deserves a wide audience.” —National Post

"A thrilling, near-theatrical look at the years leading up to Confederation. . . . [The protagonists are] cleverly selected to round out the account. . . . The authoritative narration is clear, precise, and entirely enjoyable for non-scholars. The book presents a startlingly unfamiliar and ominously dangerous period in Canadian-American relations; the world's longest undefended border was in danger of bursting into flames, unless a unified country could emerge from the tangle of British colonies. It's the birth of Canada in all its glory and muck." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Boyko has spun a compelling narrative. Better still, it's supported by just the right measure of academic rigour." —Winnipeg Free Press

"A fast-paced read, and Boyko skillfully weaves together the complex and conflict-filled Canadian, British and American wartime policy." —The Globe and Mail
“In the middle of the nineteenth century, Canada was at a risk never matched before or since. After threatening invasion during the Civil War, the United States looked northwards after it was won to fulfill its Manifest Destiny. Historian John Boyko tells this story in Blood and Daring. He does so by recounting the stories of six ‘guides.’ Some are famous like Sir John A. Macdonald, and his principal opponent William Seward, Secretary of State and an ardent annexationist. Others are little known, such as escaped slave John Anderson who used Canadian law to avoid expatriation, and Sarah Edmonds, one of forty thousand Canadians to join the fight with the North or South. With verve and passion and impeccable research, Boyko makes this vital story come alive.” —Richard Gwyn, award-winning author of John A. and Nation Maker
“The American Civil War involved more of the North American continent than the Union and the Confederacy. Forty thousand Canadians fought in Union armies, Confederate agents operated in Canadian provinces, and the Canadian-American border was the scene of skirmishes that threatened to escalate into a larger conflict. In this lively and eye-opening book, John Boyko shows how the war and its aftermath not only gave the United States a new birth of freedom; it also gave birth to the new nation of Canada.” —James M. McPherson, Princeton University’s Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom

Other titles by John Boyko