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The Making of the October Crisis: Canada's Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the Flq

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A definitive, mind-changing history of the October Crisis and the events leading up to it. The first bombs exploded in Montreal in the spring of 1963, and over the next seven years there were hundreds more bombings, many bank robberies, six murders and, in October 1970, the kidnappings of a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister. The perpetrators were members of the A definitive, mind-changing history of the October Crisis and the events leading up to it. The first bombs exploded in Montreal in the spring of 1963, and over the next seven years there were hundreds more bombings, many bank robberies, six murders and, in October 1970, the kidnappings of a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister. The perpetrators were members of the Front de lib�ration du Qu�bec, dedicated to establishing a sovereign and socialist Quebec. Half a century on, we should have reached some clear understanding of what led to the October Crisis. Instead, too much attention has been paid to the Crisis and not enough to the years preceding it. Most of those who have written about the FLQ have been ardent nationalists, committed sovereigntists or former terrorists. They tell us that the authorities should have negotiated with the kidnappers and contend that Jean Drapeau's administration and the governments of Robert Bourassa and Pierre Trudeau created the October Crisis by invoking the War Measures Act. Using new research and interviews, D'Arcy Jenish tells for the first time the complete story--starting from the spring of 1963. This gripping narrative by a veteran journalist and master storyteller will change forever the way we view this dark chapter in Canadian history.


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A definitive, mind-changing history of the October Crisis and the events leading up to it. The first bombs exploded in Montreal in the spring of 1963, and over the next seven years there were hundreds more bombings, many bank robberies, six murders and, in October 1970, the kidnappings of a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister. The perpetrators were members of the A definitive, mind-changing history of the October Crisis and the events leading up to it. The first bombs exploded in Montreal in the spring of 1963, and over the next seven years there were hundreds more bombings, many bank robberies, six murders and, in October 1970, the kidnappings of a British diplomat and a Quebec cabinet minister. The perpetrators were members of the Front de lib�ration du Qu�bec, dedicated to establishing a sovereign and socialist Quebec. Half a century on, we should have reached some clear understanding of what led to the October Crisis. Instead, too much attention has been paid to the Crisis and not enough to the years preceding it. Most of those who have written about the FLQ have been ardent nationalists, committed sovereigntists or former terrorists. They tell us that the authorities should have negotiated with the kidnappers and contend that Jean Drapeau's administration and the governments of Robert Bourassa and Pierre Trudeau created the October Crisis by invoking the War Measures Act. Using new research and interviews, D'Arcy Jenish tells for the first time the complete story--starting from the spring of 1963. This gripping narrative by a veteran journalist and master storyteller will change forever the way we view this dark chapter in Canadian history.

30 review for The Making of the October Crisis: Canada's Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the Flq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    This is about the bad old days of the province of Quebec and the city of Montreal. I was growing up during that time and remember the October crisis of 1970 when British trade commissioner James Cross was kidnapped October 5th and only released on December 3rd. But he was luckier than Quebec minister Pierre Laporte who was kidnapped on October 10th and murdered a few days later. These events shocked the nation. These terrible acts were carried out by a nationalist terrorist group called the FLQ ( This is about the bad old days of the province of Quebec and the city of Montreal. I was growing up during that time and remember the October crisis of 1970 when British trade commissioner James Cross was kidnapped October 5th and only released on December 3rd. But he was luckier than Quebec minister Pierre Laporte who was kidnapped on October 10th and murdered a few days later. These events shocked the nation. These terrible acts were carried out by a nationalist terrorist group called the FLQ (Front de Liberation du Quebec) who wanted an independent and communist Quebec. What I didn’t remember were the bombings and robberies carried out by the FLQ beginning in 1963. There were hundreds of bombings, most of them in Montreal. Fortunately, only a few people were killed, due partially to the fact that many of the bombings were carried out at night. Also, many citizens alerted the police when suspicious packages were found. As the author points out the Montreal Police department developed an excellent and intrepid bomb dismantling squad. Beginning in the mid-1960’s the FLQ started planting bombs related to strikes breaking out across the province. There was a lot of labour discord in Quebec and the FLQ hoped to attain support from this – and did. And as to be expected they got much approval from young French students who, like students anywhere, are always enamoured by “revolutionary struggles”. As the author says the two kidnappings in 1970 signalled the end of the FLQ. The FLQ did not anticipate the strength of the governments’ (federal and provincial) reaction and their steadfastness in the face of the FLQ demands. The media too, both French and English, opposed these violent actions. The YouTube video below is the famous interview in that period with Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau. This was after the two kidnappings (James Cross and Pierre Laporte, but before the murder of Pierre Laporte). The War Measures Act, curtailing some freedoms, had just been proclaimed and the Canadian Army sent to protect government members and other significant people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfUq9... There were less than 100 hard-core FLQ members with maybe an additional thousand sympathizers – some of whom, for example, were willing to conceal the fleeing bombers and then kidnappers. Some were arrested in 1970, and others, who were involved in the kidnapping, and then the negotiated release of James Cross, fled to Cuba. All eventually returned to Quebec where they were put on trial. Their sentencing and subsequent parole release I found to be extremely lenient. Over the years some FLQ members have come to be lionized by nationalist oriented Quebec citizens. After 1970 nationalism in Quebec became democratic with a political party dedicated to an independent Quebec (Parti Quebecois). There were two referendums in the province for independence - one in 1980 and another in 1995 which was very close. What the author does not mention is the exodus of people (mostly Anglos) from Montreal. In the 1960’s Montreal and Toronto were roughly the same size in population. Now Toronto is a much larger city. Not only Toronto was a destination, but Western Canada as well. I recall meeting a woman in Calgary who told me that when a bomb went off on her Montreal street in the 1960’s that was enough, her family took the decision to move out. Many of those who left were affluent or middle class – so they, and their children, no longer contribute to the Quebec economy. This book gives us a history of the turmoil of that era. Families were divided between Quebec and Canada over the rise of this nationalism. I feel that the FLQ were a direct result of the autocratic years of repression of Premier Maurice Duplessis who reigned as premier of Quebec from 1944 to 1959. His Union Nationale party was repressive to French Canadians holding them in bondage to the Roman Catholic Church. Quebec at that time was an isolated society, patriarchal, and large families and poverty were considered normal. All the FLQ terrorists were a product of this theocratic control. But that would be another book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Warren Smith

    I didn’t realize how much of a disorganized joke the FLQ really was. Pierre Laporte was murdered for nothing. Five other lives were taken for what? So sad. Jenish has put together a good bit of history that reads like a heart pounding narrative in many places. Well researched with a number of primary sources.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I really enjoyed Jenish's book on the NHL and decided to give this one a try as I grew up in Montreal and was seven years old when all this happened. This is an excellent narrative not only of the two months in 1970 when the kidnappings occurred, but it goes back to 1963 and the beginning of terrorist activity in Montreal. And what makes this book stand out from other books on the subject is that he is not afraid to use the word terrorist. Many books have glamorized the bombers and kidnappers, m I really enjoyed Jenish's book on the NHL and decided to give this one a try as I grew up in Montreal and was seven years old when all this happened. This is an excellent narrative not only of the two months in 1970 when the kidnappings occurred, but it goes back to 1963 and the beginning of terrorist activity in Montreal. And what makes this book stand out from other books on the subject is that he is not afraid to use the word terrorist. Many books have glamorized the bombers and kidnappers, many of whom were paroled and continued their radical politics. Jenish manages to avoid this and if anything attempts to put the victims front and center, a discussion that is often avoided, while presenting the narrative in an objective fashion. This is an important addition to the telling of Quebec and Canadian history. Very interesting and very well told. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Everts

    "The Making of the October Crisis" was thorough, well-written and fast paced. As well as providing a play by play record of events, starting with the circumstances contributing to the "birth" of the FLQ, Jenish tells the story of the participants from the police bomb expert risking his life to find and defuse FLQ bombs to the victims of those bombs; from the felquistes to their kidnap and murder victims. Without condoning their actions, Jenish portrays the felquistes with compassion and depth, g "The Making of the October Crisis" was thorough, well-written and fast paced. As well as providing a play by play record of events, starting with the circumstances contributing to the "birth" of the FLQ, Jenish tells the story of the participants from the police bomb expert risking his life to find and defuse FLQ bombs to the victims of those bombs; from the felquistes to their kidnap and murder victims. Without condoning their actions, Jenish portrays the felquistes with compassion and depth, giving the reader insight into their individual motivations, relationships and how the consequences of their actions played out in their lives. I hope that all Canadians read this book. The October Crisis, while not something to celebrate, needs to be remembered - an excellent choice for students of Canadian history.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Byron Wright

    I picked up this book because I wanted to understand more about the FLQ and October Crisis. In that respect, I learned many new facts about both. However, I still don't think I really understand why the FLQ came to be. However, perhaps that's not entirely knowable. I was amazed to learn how long bombings went on in Quebec and how many there were. It was also interesting to see that this was mostly disaffected youth that performed these actions, which makes me think it was less about politics and I picked up this book because I wanted to understand more about the FLQ and October Crisis. In that respect, I learned many new facts about both. However, I still don't think I really understand why the FLQ came to be. However, perhaps that's not entirely knowable. I was amazed to learn how long bombings went on in Quebec and how many there were. It was also interesting to see that this was mostly disaffected youth that performed these actions, which makes me think it was less about politics and more about youth adrift that latched on to an ideology. I found the first half of the book talking about the bombings to feel more like a listing of facts than a cohesive narrative. I found this part difficult to get through. The second half that covered the abductions, exile of the kidnappers and the kidnapper's eventual return had great flow.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alex Abboud

    A thorough overview of the FLQ, related groups, and their history. Went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars but settled on the higher rating on account of the superb final section on the October Crisis. While the earlier parts often feel rushed and largely to be a surface level explanation of bombings and conflicts, the actors and events of the October Crisis are covered in great detail, and are written in a quite compelling manner. Overall this is a very good book about a critical chapter in h A thorough overview of the FLQ, related groups, and their history. Went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars but settled on the higher rating on account of the superb final section on the October Crisis. While the earlier parts often feel rushed and largely to be a surface level explanation of bombings and conflicts, the actors and events of the October Crisis are covered in great detail, and are written in a quite compelling manner. Overall this is a very good book about a critical chapter in history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    JulieLaLa

    Since I knew so little about this subject, I appreciate having read this book. I can barely get over how long Quebec endured so much terrorism on a practically daily basis: bombings, suspicious packages with bombs in them, and bank robberies. The book was a bit dry in that almost every terrorist act for years was laid out, but it did hammer home the incredible extent of the terrorism gripping Quebec at the time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Great overview of the October Crisis - put in the appropriate context. I've studied the October Crisis before but I felt this book was able to really nail down the people and events in the context of the time and culture. There's a lot of nuance to this situation and the author was able to lay a lot of the framework out without beating the reader over the head with conclusions. Great overview of the October Crisis - put in the appropriate context. I've studied the October Crisis before but I felt this book was able to really nail down the people and events in the context of the time and culture. There's a lot of nuance to this situation and the author was able to lay a lot of the framework out without beating the reader over the head with conclusions.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I had only ever heard about the murder of Pierre Laporte, so I decided to read this for the full story. I have no idea how I’ve never learned about the bombings, robberies, kidnappings, and murders, let alone that it lasted for 8 years. People think Canada is a utopia, but this book about fairly recent terrorism in Quebec is a massive eye-opener.

  10. 4 out of 5

    ♡ samu ♡

    i honestly cannot rate a book /that/ biased higher than a one star. did the flq commit horrible and unforgivable actions? yes, /definitely/. but this is not a book written to shed light on the events on the october crisis; it’s a book that does nothing but show a profound bitterness. this is way too one-sided, and therefore means nothing for anyone looking for facts or anything useful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian

    Bombings felt as if they were being listed rather than being stringed together as an overarching story. Other than that, good book. Interesting to see the profile of the perpetrators, and what became of them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    George Hodgson

    This is a good solid read that gives considerable insights into what happened in the years up to and after the October Crisis. Some things still are a mystery and will probably remain so.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elijah Reinhardt

    Excellent review of the events that occurred during the October Crisis.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Sauer

    Funniest book I have read

  15. 4 out of 5

    Celine

    Very well written and very insightful!

  16. 5 out of 5

    nora

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paddy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lynn McKinnon

  19. 4 out of 5

    JOHN Defede

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Francine Piche

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hale

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Kay

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perera-Collins

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Akeroyd

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Carter

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fred Arshoff

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam Sutherland

  29. 5 out of 5

    Taryn Russell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

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