Chances for Peace was a collaboration with my old friend John Llambias and broke new ground in the use of oral history in Canadian military history. The Old Guard dismissed oral history: one of them even once said to me, “Veterans lie. Period,” John and I begged to differ. We spoke with Canadian soldiers coming out of the violent Balkans wars, many of whom we knew. We learned and wrote about the so-called ‘secret battle’ at Medak Pocket many years before it was recognized by the Canadian government. Alas, the Canadian publishing industry was not ready for Chances for Peace when we completed it in 1995. By then others, in this case more prominent media personalities, had published on the Balkans and neither John nor I had any pull in those closed circles of the Toronto publishing industry. We were just two guys with Masters Degrees in Military History from the University of New Brunswick. What did we know? We had to wait until 2002 and by that time the Balkans was passe’. Even then, a prominent media personality slagged our “strange little book” in her book on a similar topic (but her mapmaker decided that our maps were pretty good so he borrowed them).
The structure of Chances for Peace was I think too clever for the critics. John and I wove a patchwork quilt of the Canadian experience in UNPROFOR and the ECMM in the Balkans. By that I mean we had at least one Canadian account from each major flashpoint in the conflict: Medak Pocket in 1993, Bihac Pocket, Gorazdhe, Srebrenica. Sarajevo. An open mind would recognize that our interviewees brought the nature of the war and the operations of the UNPROFOR and ECMM missions home to the reader. John and I remain proud of this pioneering work despite our inability to have it reach a broader audience in Canada. And we could never thank our interviewees enough.
We did, however, have the support of not only the interviewees, but MGen Michel Maisonneauve the operations officer for UNPROFOR in 1993 and from General Jean Cot, the French Army commander of UNPROFOR in 1993. Both wrote complimentary forewords to Chances for Peace.