Ottawa author and Canadian War Museum First World War historian Dr. Tim Cook recently released his latest book, The Madman and the Butcher, a double biography of Sam Hughes and Arthur Currie and the story of one of the most highly publicized libel trials in Canadian history.
Tell us briefly about the book.
It’s the story of these two Canadians, Sam Hughes and Arthur Currie, set against the backdrop of the Great War. It was a cataclysmic event for the nation.
More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted and more than 60,000 were killed. As a result of that, there was a terrible sense of agony and loss throughout the country. Sam Hughes was Canada’s war lord.
Arthur Currie was a general overseas. In 1919, Sam Hughes stands up in the House of Commons and accuses Currie of being a butcher and killing off his own soldiers. That’s where the book starts. It’s a story of how these two men who respected one another became archrivals.
Hughes accused Currie of sacrificing the lives of Canadian soldiers. How do you think these two men would feel about sharing a book?
They despised each other by the end. Arthur Currie called Sam Hughes a lying snake and Sam Hughes called Arthur Currie a British Toadie. If they were alive and found themselves on the same cover, I suspect they would not be happy.