The Valour and the Horror Revisited


185 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-1271-3
DDC 791.45'72




Edited by David J. Bercuson and S.F. Wise
Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein is a history professor at York University and the
co-author of the Dictionary of Canadian Military History and Empire to
Umpire: Canada and the World to the 1990s.


When “The Valour and the Horror” was televised in three segments on
CBC television, it sparked an extraordinary furor in which almost no one
emerged with credit. The producers, Brian and Terence McKenna, claimed
to have uncovered long-hidden truths about the Hong Kong debacle, the
role of Bomber Command, and the Canadian army in Normandy, as they
presented an interpretation of World War II shaped by a Vietnam-era
perspective. Almost everything they claimed was new was in the public
domain, but veterans were outraged nonetheless and demanded that the
shows be suppressed. The media reacted instinctively, fighting for press
freedom, even though the McKennas had frequently offered interpretation
as fact. The Senate investigated, smearing the producers. The CBC
Ombudsman investigated, and was smeared by the McKennas. Historians,
some of whom even knew the subject, spoke up and were jumped by
everyone, depending on where they stood.

Now David Bercuson and S.F. Wise, two well-known military historians,
have put together a collection of papers by academic military historians
and some documents from the affair in a useful volume. Bercuson and Wise
wrote critiques of the TV shows for the CBC Ombudsman, and their papers
are reproduced in quite damning detail. There are other essays examining
the Hong Kong battle, Normandy and Bomber Command. At the end, the
McKennas’ credibility is undeniably battered. The certainty, however
regrettable it may be, is that the proponents of all sides in this
multifaceted dispute will never be convinced of anything but the
unworthiness of their opponents. This book, however, is the best place
to begin for those interested in the issues at stake.


“The Valour and the Horror Revisited,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,