"He died so Jewry should suffer no more." These words on a Canadian Jewish soldier's tombstone in Normandy inspired the author to explore the role of Canadian Jews in the war effort. As PM Mackenzie King wrote in 1947, Jewish servicemen faced a "double threat" - they were not only fighting against Fascism but for Jewish survival. At the same time, they encountered widespread antisemitism and the danger of being identified as Jews if captured. Bessner conducted hundreds of interviews and extensive archival research to paint a complex picture of the 17,000 Canadian Jews - about 10 per cent of the Jewish population in wartime Canada - who chose to enlist, including future Cabinet minister Barney Danson, future game-show host Monty Hall, and comedians Wayne and Shuster. Added to this fascinating account are Jews who were among the so-called "Zombies" - Canadians who were drafted, but chose to serve at home - the various perspectives of the Jewish community, and the participation of Canadian Jewish women.
"One of the first books to be released by the Toronto-based New Jewish Press may turn out to be one of its most impressive. Double Threat by Ellin Bessner leaves no stones unturned in its telling of the full-blooded saga of the heroic participation of Jewish men and women in the Canadian military during the Second World War. It’s a worthy topic, and one that, surprisingly, has never been covered in such depth before. For that reason, the book has the feel of a popular Canadian Jewish classic, comparable, say, to None Is Too Many or Canada’s Jews: A People’s Journey."
"That we now have a treasure trove of information to which we have never before been privy is beyond important and will help us to fill out our understanding of Canada’s and the Jewish community’s war experience."