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Testimonials and Responses to LANDED

A Book Review: An Inspiring Insight into World War II and Family Heritage

Who was William Douglas Land and why would one delve into Landed: The WWII Journal and Family History of William Douglas Land? “Bill” (1922-1983) was not a prime minister or general, a world-class pianist or painter, a billionaire or inventor. He was, for all intents and purposes, an “ordinary” man. Like most other young men of his generation, Bill went off to war to defend his country. Then, after World War II was over, like many, Bill left the military, found a career, fell in love, married, became a father, made friends, enjoyed the simple joys of life, volunteered, retired, died, and was mourned deeply by all who knew and loved him.

Not even the fact that Bill Land documented his experiences during World War II by writing a journal and taking photos -- 264, to be exact -- is so extraordinary. After all, many young men and women who went to war, not knowing if they were coming back alive, documented their lives and thoughts through journals, letters, photos, drawings.

What is different, and out of the ordinary, is that his daughter Janet Land, while lovingly transcribing her father’s War journal for future Land generations, embarked on her own journey of discovery -- “abroad,” so to speak -- and then captured all of her discoveries in Landed.

First Land journeyed into world history. Almost as if Bill Land knew he would be educating his middle child 60 years later, he begins his journal in May 1941 by providing a brief history lesson about “the World up till now.” Not scholarly, his summary is concise, patriotic and full of opinion, and it sets the stage for his own particular story of enlisting in the Royal Scots and serving in India. He then weaves his personal story (and that of his immediate family) in and out of the broader loom of unfolding world events. The daily regimen and realities he writes about provide a deeper understanding to the events we learn about in history class. His photos, which Land has used plentifully to punctuate his diary entries, also help to root 21st century readers into what it was like to live and serve in a world at war in the 20th century.

Second Land journeyed back in time and “across the pond” from Canada to England, Scotland, Ireland and Australia as she worked to understand her roots and heritage. She discovered, for example, that her great-great-grandfather (John) had owned “a woolen mill/weaving business in Leeds, turning flax into fabric” and her great-aunt Meriel had been a well known actress in Ireland. She discovered that she even had ties to horticultural history through the lineage of her grandmother “Peggie” Moore, who had married Tommy Land in 1920. Her great-great-grandfather Dr. David Moore and his son Sir Frederick Moore had both been key players at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Ireland, and Dr. Charles Moore, her great-great-granduncle, had served as the director of the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia for 48 years. Who knew? Land was amazed.

Finally, Land’s decision to complete the story of Bill Land’s life by recounting his time in Canada up to his untimely death in 1983, and then to share it, her father’s World War II journal verbatim, and the Moore/Land family records with us is extraordinary. How proud Bill Land would have been of his daughter's “labour of love” in documenting the Land/Moore family roots and in placing his piece of the family saga into place.

As we peer into the intimate views and life of a young soldier, Landed helps all of us reflect on the courage and cheerfulness of so many who went off to war, and we cannot help but be reminded that we, too, are only one small, but important, part of a much larger family and world story that stretches back into time. Indeed as we finish this meticulously researched volume, resplendent with photos and images, I suspect many of us will wonder what surprises and stories lie in our own family histories.

~ Catherine Ripley. Ripley, a former editor of chickaDEE Magazine, is the author of 20 children's books, including WHY? and HOW? (Owlkids Books). She lives in Fernie, B.C.

“LANDED catapulted me into the rich world of William Douglas Land and kept me turning the pages until the end. I loved getting to know Land through the intimacy of his letters and journal entries juxtaposed with life's realities—war, the immigrant experience, business, and fatherhood. A wonderful book to read and share.”

~ Megan Smith-Harris, Editor Wilton Magazine, Wilton, CT

“How incredible to see WWII through your Dad’s eyes. His degree of detailing about his experiences provides a virtual feeling about that horrific time. It’s incredulous in our day and age to imagine living through his journey but so important for us and our children and generations to come to never forget. Thank you for making this excellent portrayal of his journal.”
— Jannike Godfrey

“As I read his various commentaries of the world at large from a soldier’s viewpoint, I began to feel what it was like to live through this terrifying time in history.”
— William Dewson

“How do we remember? We make sure the stories are passed on, shared.”
— Reverend Drew Jacques

“The things that I find the most interesting are the little details that you wouldn’t find in an overall history of the War. For example, when he first joins, he talks about how there’s more kit than he has a place for. Or later, when he’s on ship, he describes what happens when they think they saw a submarine. In a similar vein, it’s very neat to read what people thought about the events that were happening before they had the full picture. The sinking of the French Navy, for example, or the way he describes the Russians. You don’t really get those things looking back.”
— Christopher McKay, Military Historian

“With the care and attention needed to respectfully preserve the memories and artifacts of his life, Janet has presented William’s diary with a minimal amount of editorial that might distract the reader from seeing the world through William’s eyes.”
— Allan Silburt, Author of A Colourful Life: the art and drawing of Josh Silburt

“The quality of this book is amazing, as is the incredible detail of [Janet Land’s] research into every aspect of it.”

~ Christopher Dawkins, Archivist     Felsted School, Essex, U.K.

"Great book. Could not put it down. Fascinating life. Bill Land gives a wonderful overview of the War and especially of India and how it was at that point in history. The photos were terrific and I can only imagine being there.”

~ Jay Howson

“What a fascinating story. WWII in real-time.”
— Leslie Smith

"Land’s decision to complete the story of Bill Land’s life by recounting his time in
Canada up to his untimely death in 1983, and then to share it, her father’s World War II journal verbatim, and the Moore/Land family records with us is extraordinary. How proud Bill Land would have been of his daughter's ‘labour of love.’ ”

~ Catherine Ripley, Author, Editor

"I found it to be a real page-turner, with much wealth of information throughout.”

~ Gail Berman

“I can’t wait to read the journal/book. It is beyond my imagining to be involved in any aspect of a war. Which makes it even more important to chronicle the real life experiences of so many - so that we understand and never forget what they did for so many more.” 
— Andrea Caskey

“Once I started I could not put it down.  His accounts were so well written and narrated that I felt like I was in the room listening to him.”

~ Murray Boyce