Read Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead by MichaelWinter Online


“In June a few years ago I set out to visit some of the World War One battlefields of Europe – the slope and valley and river and plain that the Newfoundland Regiment trained on, and fought over and through and under.”    So begins Michael Winter’s extraordinary narrative that follows two parallel journeys, one laid on top of the other like a sketch on opaque paper over th“In June a few years ago I set out to visit some of the World War One battlefields of Europe – the slope and valley and river and plain that the Newfoundland Regiment trained on, and fought over and through and under.”    So begins Michael Winter’s extraordinary narrative that follows two parallel journeys, one laid on top of the other like a sketch on opaque paper over the lines of an old map. The first journey is that of the young men who came from Newfoundland’s outports, fields, villages and narrow city streets to join the storied regiment that led many of them to their deaths at Beaumont-Hamel during the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916. The second journey is the author’s, taken a century later as he walks in the footsteps of the dead men to discover what remains of their passage across land and through memory.      Part unconventional history, part memoir-travelogue, part philosophical inquiry, Michael Winter uniquely captures the extraordinary lives and landscapes, both in Europe and at home, scarred by a war that is just now disappearing from living memory. In subtle and surprising ways, he also tells the hidden story of the very act of remembering – of how the past bleeds into the present and the present corrals and shapes the past. As he wanders from battlefield to barracks to hospital to hotel, and finally to a bereft stretch of land battered by a blizzard back home, Winter gently but persistently unsettles us – startling us with the unexpected encounters and juxtapositions that arise from his physical act of walking through the places where the soldiers once marched, this time armed with artifacts and knowledge those earlier souls could not have, yet undone by the reality of their bodily presence beneath the earth.      In this unusual, poignant and beautiful book, Michael Winter gives us a new way of looking at a powerful piece of history that, he reminds us, continues to haunt our own lives....

Title : Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385677851
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead Reviews

  • Jim
    2018-09-30 08:56

    This book was enticing, with its neat cover and catchy title, perched on a shelf in the bookstore practically begging me to take it home: it was the last of its kind in the store. It was an easy sell for me as I have served with Newfoundlanders for many years - they provide soldiers for the Canadian military in numbers far out of proportion to the population of the province. I have the greatest admiration for them, a hardy race, almost always honest and uncomplicated; you never have to guess where you stand with them, for you'll be told in plain language.I was aware that the Newfoundland Regiment had taken a hell of a pounding at Beaumont-Hamel in WWI, but I didn't really know a lot about the regiment aside from that. Newfoundland wasn't part of Canada at that time, nor would the province join confederation for another thirty years after the war. This book enlightened me considerably, although stopped just short of providing full satisfaction.I hadn't been aware that the Newfoundland Regiment had been the only North American unit to serve at Gallipoli, and that they had been the last to evacuate/retreat. They apparently advanced closer to Constantinople than any other unit. (Yes, Constantinople. It didn't become Istanbul until after the war. Now I'll have thatFour Lads song floating around in my head). They went on to France, engaged in some battles in which they mostly prevailed, and went on to become noted in history for a defeat that rivalled those of Varus and Custer. Exceeded Custer in numbers, actually, although unlike the 7th Cavalry something less than 10% of the Newfoundland Regiment was able to answer the roll call next day. This is where the book gets its title: a witness described the Newfoundlanders advancing into the hail of fire at Beaumont-Hamel like they would advance into a blizzard on the sea ice back home; sheltering behind one shoulder and hunched toward the gale!Mr Winter took up the task of writing the book for mercenary reasons. His trip overseas to trace the route of the regiment was made to satisfy a request of his publisher and not to seek out the grave of an ancestor, so he has no personal tie to his story. He weaves the tales of his travels in with the story of the regiment and binds it with anecdotal incidents from past and present with the intention, I believe, of showing that the past affects the present. This really didn't really work for me and, in fact, I ended up not liking Mr Winter very much. When you put too much gratuitous information about yourself in your writing...well, familiarity breeds contempt. Like taking a dump in a battlefield shell hole, or getting blitzed on wine in a military cemetery, both of which he mentions in the book, apparently without any idea how these actions would be regarded by the reader. He reveals a lot when he writes on page 23: There should, by law,be a division between war and sport like the one between church and state. Soldiers should not appear with the flag at hockey games. Soldiers should not sing the national anthem in baseball parks. No salutes should be made to the flag when a game begins. No applause given to platoons watching in uniform from the gold seats.I think that Winter, in spite of some rhetoric that seems anti-military, is actually anti-war. There is a difference, and I hope he perceives that difference before he goes spouting off in public about how patriotism and military service should receive no recognition.Another perceived shortcoming is a lack of photographs. In a non-fiction publication it is a great asset for the reader to be able to see the items and places referred to in the book. Show me the caribou statue at the memorial; don't just tell me about it! Same goes for the soldiers mentioned in the story - let's see their faces!I wasn't going to rate the book very highly because it jumps back and forth and what I had really wanted was a history of the Newfoundland Regiment, but in all honesty I have to admit that the book was hard to put down. It is an entertaining read, and I envy Winter's expense-account trip to the battlefields. I have this trip on my bucket list and hope to be able to be able to do it without getting loaded in the cemetery or pinching off a loaf on the battlefield.

  • Bfisher
    2018-10-04 04:45

    I started to read this book out of a general interest in WW1 and a specific interest in the Newfoundland battalion. The book was not what I had expected. There is no discussion about political or military issues or strategy. There are no accounts in exhaustive detail of attacks prepared for and made. There are no stories of decorations won by daring deeds. There is very little of that other staple of WW1 literature, details of the lives in and out of the trenches of the soldiers. If you seek any of that, look elsewhere. There are many books out there that will give you that.Late in the book, the writer describes the journal of Eric Ellis, a soldier who spent the war at the regimental depot, and who joined the field battalion a week after the armistice. He had no direct experience of the war. A week later, as the battalion marched to Germany, they detoured for a view of the Waterloo battlefield, and it was then, viewing an enormous mural of the Battle of Waterloo, that Ellis got his closest approximation of what battle was like. Winter, as with most of us, is in the position of Ellis, at a remove of a hundred years from the experience of a particular war. Why then should we memorialize WW1?Superficially, the book is the writer’s story of a sort of battlefield tour, of some of the sites fought over by the Newfoundland battalion in WW1, and some of the adjacent memorial sites. Touring the Western Front battlefields was well-established by 1932 when F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a scene about Dick Diver touring the Somme battlefield into Tender Is The Night. Most of his readers would have had some knowledge of the Somme battle as a recent event. I had to ask myself, what can Winter bring into this that is new?The first thing that struck me about this book was the cover illustration - Landseer’s “The Monarch Of the Glen” Odd, I thought, but then he described the Newfoundland connection, and what would have been meaningful to the soldiers and to those back home. It is also relevant to Dick Diver’s discourse on what made the Somme possible. The painting has been reproduced so often that according to the Sunday Herald "It is the ultimate biscuit tin image of Scotland"Winter describes modern reworkings of Landseer’s image, and then explains: “Why was I struck by these reworkings of an old romantic image? Because I am dealing with the same trouble of sifting through an old war to find new meaning.” Here we start to get some inkling of where Winter is going. Is Winter implying that we may have constructed something like a biscuit-tin image of remembrance?And then later, while talking about the bromides so often repeated in Newfoundlander about the regiment, he declares that he is not interested in that. ”What I am interested in is this: What do we recall, and how does it move us, or not?”And further into his journey: “I want to step in to say something - not just to reiterate Ivor Gurney’s red wet thing but to say something of what an old war means to us now. Does it speak, and do we listen?”And finally at the end of his journey: “The words we are asked to chant are never forget and remembrance. And the politicians would have you believe that it is the dead we should not forget. I will say one last outrageous thing. It is not the dead we should remember. It is the atrocities that occur when men in charge throw individuals in to war and kill them for some idea. It is this we should never forget”This, for me, provides the essence of this book. When we memorialize past wars, either we ask the questions the writer posed, or we fall into the deep, dangerous pit Wilfred Owen warned us about:"...tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum estPro patria mori."

  • Christina
    2018-10-07 01:35

    I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.I tried. I tried so hard to be interested in and to like this book, but reading this book was so tedious. I really did want to learn more about Newfoundland’s history, especially before it became a part of Canada, because I think knowing our history is important. The fact that nonfiction tends to bore me is a factor in the way I feel about this book, but I think the format and writing also affected me.This book is half history and half travelogue, which I wasn’t expecting, but it seemed like a cool concept. I was intrigued. From the beginning, though, I could see that it doesn’t work, at least for me. Winter tries to make connections between what he is doing and the past, and while those connections may be there, the way he presents them is quite stilted. A lot of this book, in this instance and for the book as a whole, feels disjointed and kind of random. It feels as if there is no clear path. While most of the history is told chronologically, Winter goes back and forth with describing battles and different soldiers and chunks of life back then. This made the book very hard to read and made me lose interest often.Then again, maybe I just wasn’t into the book and that’s why it all seems disjointed. Since I wasn’t very interested it took me a while to read this book, and so I read snippets at a time. The concept seemed pretty interesting, but either my disinterest affected my reading or the execution just isn’t all that great.

  • Briar's Reviews
    2018-09-29 07:47

    Since I am a Canadian, I decided this book would be an interesting read that would enhance my knowledge of Canada. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected!I wanted to read the book to gain more knowledge, but I ended up really enjoying the book and getting into it. The book follows the journey of the author through Newfoundland and past battlefields and grave sites of soldiers. The chapters in this book were short and sweet, but the nicest little gem was how much information and facts that were within the small chapters. Each chapter involved a small journey or task completed by the author, but little facts either about the author's childhood or the wars were included. These facts, despite being anywhere from one sentence to only a few paragraphs in length, gave an amazing and gigantic insight to how the War was fought and dealt with by soldiers.The only downfall I saw to this book was how simple some of the language was. The read was smooth and quick, and I didn't find myself getting bored with the facts and plot laid out in the story. Overall, this book was incredibly well written and a gem I would definitely read again or suggest to anyone who is interested in history, wars, or specifically Canadian history.I believe this book would help many high school students studying history understand it a bit more (considering the fact that this book would have helped me a lot when I sat bored in history class).Amazing book! Four out of five stars!I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  • Shannon
    2018-10-10 07:46

    I received and ARC copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.Michael Winter takes the reader with him on his journey to visit the First World War battlefields and cemeteries that have particular meaning to Newfoundland's history. Along the way, Winter relates tidbits of the personal experiences of some Newfoundland soldiers, but the book ends up coming across as being more about his journey than the history.This is an interesting book, definitely more memoir than history. If you are hoping for an in-depth history of Newfoundland's Great War participation, this is not the place to find it. Winter focuses on the individual, relating brief stories about particular episodes in their experience rather than anything particularly in-depth. Overall, the book is more about Winter's journey than the war itself. I did however learn a few new bits of information: I had no idea the Newfoundlanders were in Gallipoli, for example. Several times throughout the book, Winter asserts that he intends to examine how the wars is remembered and how the memory effects people today. I don't know that he achieves that, as it can only really show how it effects himself. He fares better in his other goal of trying to personalize the war a bit, and revive the memory of the individuals.Having a history degree myself, I'd have liked to see more historical content(and really felt the lack of sources in the ARC copy), but I still greatly enjoyed the book. It's certainly a worthwhile read, I found, as long as you aren't looking for pure history. I feel that it is often forgotten that Newfoundland was still separate from Canada during the First World War, and so the major battles Canada remembers as key points in our history, such as Vimy Ridge, exclude Newfoundland. It's definitely something we should acknowledge, and a big reason I was interested in this book.The best section of the book in my opinion, is the section in which Winter describes his visits to the memorials in France, and how he is effected by them. Very moving, and added the the desire I already had to someday make that journey myself.The writing style and voice took a little while to get into, but as I don't read a lot of memoirs, that could be more of a genre thing than something specific to this book. Once I got into the flow, I could read very smoothly. I was taken out of the narrative a few times, however, when Winter's attempt to connect a personal memory to a wartime story missed the mark. Occasionally it felt like he was really stretching to try to make the connection fit, resulting in clumsy analogies. This only happened a few times, though, so it didn't bother me too much. Overall, I really enjoyed the book despite the few issues I had with it. Again, if you're looking for a good history, this is not the book for it. Taking it as a travel memoir with a casual eye toward history, it's a pretty good read.

  • Andrew
    2018-09-24 05:42

    An elegy for those who set forth from Newfoundland.It seems the best word to describe this. It's not a history of the regiment. It's not a look at The Great War's place in Newfoundland's history. It's more of a travelogue. Michael Winter retraces the footsteps of the regiment and reflects. A creek is occasion to tell the story of the men who crossed it. A graveyard recalls the man on whose stone Winter rests. A train journey through London causes him to think of their return after the war.In fact, so much of this is actually about landscape. How the land changes superficially, but its roots remain the same. The roads of London are still there. The villages of France still stand. And in the land's names and configurations, the ghosts of our forbears are not to be avoided.So it's a consciously haphazard history that may look lazy but, in fact, can only be told from utter command of the primary source material. Winter's occasional over-identification with the soldiers (he wears a shirt with epaulettes and talks about marches and charges on his own travels) is a little cringeworthy, but I get why he does it. He's made a real attempt to put himself into their minds. And bring out the past from the mists of mere remembrance.Also on Twitter.

  • Jim Lang
    2018-10-11 05:38

    I love reading about the First World War, and this exploration of the contributions of Newfoundland soldiers to that conflict should have been right up my alley, but it suffers from a few problems, the most prominent of which is the writer. This book falls more into the travel memoir genre than history book, and it really is mostly about the writer going to Europe to walk around the places where the Newfoundlanders fought. There's nothing wrong with that kind of book. Geoff Dyer's The Missing of the Somme is the high-water mark for this kind of thing, but that book is more thoughtful, and just generally better-written. The issue here is the extent to which Winter goes to make this book be about him. When he lines up to get on an airplane to England, it makes him think he's a soldier heading off to war. At almost every turn, he compares himself to these soldiers, or empathizes with how they must have felt staying in trenches for weeks, because he's a little bit tired or cold.When Winter focuses on the stories of the soldiers, this book can be very good. His desperate need to find personal connection and meaning in century-old tragedies is tiresome and narcissistic.

  • A.J.B. Johnston
    2018-10-02 05:39

    Winter is a highly regarded novelist who has written a history with a distinct difference. It’s a travelogue and memoir rolled into one, with many reflections by the author on the effect of the passing of time. As Winter states about halfway through the book, he was not interested in re-writing the history of Newfoundland’s role in the Great War. Instead, his main questions were: “How war and the past creep into everyday life? How does the past ambush us?”The book recounts a journey Winter took to retrace the steps of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment when it went overseas in 1914. He follows them, and his own travels a century later, through England and Scotland for training, on to Gallipoli and Egypt, then to northern France (where Beaumont-Hamel was the great tragedy), and eventually back home to Newfoundland.For Winter, every stop conjures what the Newfoundland soldiers were doing (and sometimes feeling and thinking) and what background they came out of. It’s an effective approach. Readers get to know the soldiers and their families back home. We appreciate what they went through and at the same time we absorb Winter’s reflections about it all today. Sometimes it’s funny; more often it’s poignant or full-on sad. It's an intriguing narrative that encourages us the reader to at least ponder everything the author brings up.

  • Shannon Cole
    2018-10-14 00:33

    At first I was not sure what to expect I was given this book as a gift. It is a different take on ww1 - the author visits areas and battlefields that the nlfd regiment experienced during the war. Sometimes I found the travel guide aspect of the book unnecessary, while other times I found I wAs interested in these little aspects of the book. The individual stories and histories of the soldiers was by far the best part of the book - I looked forward to these sections, regardless of how brief they might have been. It is unique with a rather lofty ambition - I feel like 3.5 is a fair ratings

  • Anne
    2018-09-20 04:52

    This isn't a book that I would have picked up on my own but I'm really glad that I've read it.It was such an interesting story in which the author goes back to follow the steps that the Newfoundland Regiment took during WWI.I enjoyed that the author retold his story by incorporating the stories/lives of those in the Regiment. It made the history come across in a more intriguing way.

  • Jennifer
    2018-10-09 01:00

    I won a copy of Into the Blizzard: Walking the Fields of the Newfoundland Dead by Michael Winter through a Goodreads giveaway. Into the Blizzard wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I entered the giveaway, but it was an interesting read.

  • Michelle
    2018-10-08 04:47

    I was excited when I won this book through Goodreads, because my mom is from Newfoundland. Also because I'll shortly have a minor in history, and I thought this book would be relevant to the history course I'm currently taking. Well, the English major in me mostly enjoyed the book, but the historian is really disappointed. Mind, the ARC doesn't have all of the sources at the back, but for me it raised more questions than I had before, and I feel like the title isn't accurate to the content. The book isn't really about the Newfoundland regiment as much as it is about Winter's personal journey. His travelogue is well-written and rather relatable, but the title is misleading. So, if you go into it excepting literature rather than history, you should enjoy it. But if you're looking for footnoted history research, you won't find any of that here.

  • Marcus
    2018-10-04 02:54

    It's a shame that Winter manages to make the book just as much about him as the Newfoundland Regiment. His far-fetched and forced connections between his country's past and his own present too often put Winter in the same focus as the soldiers. Was that the aim?I'm sure Winter's a smart guy, but he doesn't need to prove it by using long, distracting words and phrases when simple ones would do - the story doesn't need dressing up.There are positives about this book - the physical descriptions of the locations are excellent, the focus on individual actors and not just the group results in an intimacy unusual for military histories - but his pompous delivery takes away from these things.

  • Maryan
    2018-10-05 08:40

    Michael Winter relates his journey to England and France on a quest to deepen his understanding of the steps taken by the Newfoundland Regiment's experience in WWI. I read it in preparation for a trip to Newfoundland and it did not disappoint in capturing the spirit of the fighters. It was a dark reading experience knowing the tragic outcome. In the Somme 753 members entered combat and only 68 survived. Winter is transparent in this struggles to come to terms with the loss of life while at the same time acknowledging the significant contribution of this small part of the British Empire.

  • Adrian
    2018-10-08 08:48

    Author seeks what if anything Newfoundland's dead from WWI have left to memory beyond cemetaries, museums and monuments. He follows the soldiers' path overseas where many of them fought at both Gallipoli and the Somme mixing his own experience with snapshots of soldiers' biography. Tommy Ricketts who won the Victoria Cross and survived to run a drugstore back home is one of the more effective of his portraits. Winter's path is a meandering one and not everything strikes a chord but what does is interesting.

  • Allison
    2018-10-02 01:57

    Liked this book very much...a sort of personalized journey through WWI battlefields. Quite interesting. Michael Winter gets to the "heart of the matter" when it comes to the history of the Newfoundland regiment, as he walks in the soldiers' footsteps, and takes his own parallel journey.Received an ARC through Goodreads.

  • Courtney
    2018-09-25 06:41

    *I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads*I admire what the author was trying to do in this book, but it was so fractured and I lacked background knowledge so I had a hard time digging in to it. I suspect that my husband will enjoy this more than I did.

    2018-10-04 03:52


  • Nicole Laverdure
    2018-10-16 04:37

    I won this book through Goodreads and since I'm Canadian, I thought this book would interesting to read. It's well written and documented, but it didn't really kept me interested till the end.

  • Margaret Bryant
    2018-10-19 00:42

    My own prejudices were pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy this book. Boy, was I ever wrong. Read it in 24 hours. You should too!

  • Christy
    2018-09-19 03:54

    A good book. Fascinating.

  • Aileen Lord
    2018-10-17 05:43

    This book takes a different approach to writing about the First World War making it more personal,not something that happened a hundred years ago but something that affects us still

  • Frankie
    2018-10-12 01:41

    Travel memoir, searching for his own relationship to many from Newfoundland who 'went no further' than their country , Newfoundland, honoured them in death.)

  • Debbie
    2018-10-02 05:02

    heard interview on THE NEXT CHAPTER and it sounded great .