The Next Chapter

Ann MacMillan shares the heroic lives of 34 ordinary people during times of war in a new book

Journalist Ann MacMillan gives an account of the feats of heroism included in War Stories, which she co-authored with her husband Peter Snow.
Journalists Ann MacMillan and Peter Snow gather the stories of 34 people who triumphed during trying times in War Stories. (Courtesy of Ann MacMillan and Peter Snow/Hodder & Stoughton)

Ann MacMillan is an accomplished journalist, having worked at CHIN Radio, Global, CTV and CBC. She was the managing editor of CBC's London bureau for 13 years. Her husband Peter Snow, worked for the BBC and has written several books.

The two have collaborated for their latest project: a book titled War Stories: Gripping Tales of Courage, Cunning and Compassion which profiles 34 ordinary individuals who accomplished feats of heroism and humanity during times of war. This interview originally aired on Jan. 15, 2018.

Noteworthy figures

"Firsthand accounts were important when we were writing War Stories. We wanted to feel close to the people we were writing about, so we went through war diaries and letters, interviewing people who are still living and also those who knew our subjects.

"One of our characters is Laura Secord. What I found fascinating about Secord is we would have never heard of her had it not been for an 1860 visit by [Edward, Prince of Wales] to Niagara Falls, 50 years after Secord completed her courageous walk to warn the British that the Americans were about to attack. Queen Victoria's son was handed testimonials written by people who had been involved in the War of 1812. One of them was Laura Secord's. He read this testimonial and was so impressed he sent her 100 pounds. That made headlines and she suddenly became a national hero."     

Heroism past and present

"Our book also deals with modern day conflicts like the one in Syria and how it affects ordinary people. My husband and I were both journalists who have covered conflicts. We always found that it was the stories told by people involved in these conflicts that really mattered. We also had a fascination for warriors of the past, so we felt it was natural to write about people who had extraordinary experiences in conflicts in the past and present." 

Ann MacMillan's comments have been edited and condensed.