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Bastard sons: an examination of Canada's airborne experience, 1925-1995.



This is the story of Canada's airborne forces from 1942 to 1995 laid bare. The author, Lieutenant Colonel Bernd Horn, Ph.D., has by no means created a dry series of regimental histories; rather, he delivers a detailed investigation and examination of the political, regimental, and military reasons for the rise and fall of Canada's "Paras" over 57 years of existence. He writes with the soul of a soldier and the detail of an academic.

Divided into three parts, Bastard Sons begins by detailing the World War II experiences of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, the Special Air Service (SAS) company (1945-48), and the Mobile Strike Force (circa 1948-67). Part II covers the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR) from its establishment in 1968 to its eventual disbandment in 1995. In Part III the author, himself a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), discusses the remnants of Canada's once-proud airborne capability.

This book is extremely well researched with detailed endnotes after each of the eleven chapters, along with an index. Horn shines a bright light on the political and military machinations which established the various parachute units. The ambivalence and sometimes outright hostility of government officials and certain general officers towards the establishment of what was perceived as elite units are fully documented.

A very readable book, it moves along quickly and holds the reader's attention. What was most fascinating for me, however, were the second and third parts. For anyone who served in the Army over the last three decades of the 20th century and wondered why certain decisions about units and tasks were made will find the answers here. Horn has accessed original documents and interviewed most of the officers who served in or somehow influenced the CAR.

With a foreword by Major General Herb Pitts and a preface by Colonel Peter Kenward -- the last CO of the Airborne -- this book is a must read for any soldier, civilian or military historian, but most especially for those who have felt the wind "under a canopy."
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Publication:Esprit de Corps
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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