Soldiers found guilty of desertion or cowardice during the Great War
faced death by firing squad. In this revealing look at military law in
the Canadian Expeditionary Force, historian Teresa Iacobelli examines
the cases of 25 Canadian soldiers who were executed by their own
military as well as the untold stories of the 197 men who were
sentenced to death but spared.
Death or Deliverance - the first book to
consider commuted sentences alongside cases that ended in tragic
executions - offers a nuanced account of military law in the
Great War. Novels, histories, movies, and television series often
depict courts martial as brutal and inflexible, and social memories of
this system of frontline justice have inspired modern movements to seek
pardons for soldiers executed on the battlefield. Beyond well-known
stories of unyielding and callous generals, however, lies another
story, one of a disciplinary system capable of thoughtful review and
compassion for the individual soldier.
Published to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the
outbreak of the First World War, this book reconsiders an important and
unexamined chapter in the history of both a war and a nation.
Teresa Iacobelli received a doctorate in
2010 from the University of Western Ontario and is a SSHRC
postdoctoral fellow. Her current research examines how the two world
wars have been portrayed in popular media and how these depictions have
shaped Canadian identity and social memories of war.