November 13, 2022
What an honour to be listed as #2 beside David O’Keefe.
Ranked number 3 on Amazon.ca for Canadian Military History.
Although this is just a snapshot in time, I was proud to have been among the titans of Canadian Military History including Pierre Burton, and Mark Zuehlke, for a short while on March 26, 2022
- 75th Anniversary of D-Day: Local man gathering stories – 630 CHED
- Edmonton author Don Levers on meaningful D-Day trip – Global
- November 11, 2021 – Remembrance Day Special – YouTube
(Real Talk at www.ryanjespersen.com)
- ‘What if’ war stories for all readers – StAlbertToday.ca
- Following in his father’s footsteps | Radio Active | Live Radio | CBC Listen
- Our Fathers’ Footsteps: Stories of World War 2 Veterans’ “What If” Moments | Watch News Videos Online (globalnews.ca)
- Alberta Primetime for Friday, March 25, 2022 Click on the March 25 interview. My interview with Michael is after the 2nd set of commercials at the 16:05 mark.
- Presentation to the Royal Canadian Military Institute History Night.
- Author interview with Eri Nelson She Shed Studios
- Interview with Keegan Gingrich of the Juno Beach Centre.
- Interview with CJOB mornings about Winnipeg’s If Day Begins at 54:50 mark https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/watermark/id1178069790?i=1000600253059
- Remembrance Day Podcast/ Our Fathers Footsteps with J’Lyn Nye CHED 630 Radio Nov. 9 2022 https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/our-fathers-footsteps-is-a-collection-of-family/id970538446?i=1000585702247
- Interview with Ryan Jespersen and Marie Brown November 11, 2022 Begins at 46:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IASOkq17EoY
Reactions from family members
I spent an enjoyable evening reading my dad’s story as written by you. It evoked a range of emotions. It was eerie reading about places we have so recently been to, including the account of the Carpiquet airport. It was sad to read the fate of those killed in action. You have done a remarkable job of telling the story. Your account of dad’s life before, during & after the war fits with who he was, how I think of him. I believe he would be very pleased with your handling of his material. I’m wondering if, perhaps, his record-keeping, writing & retelling were all therapy, a catharsis for him. To have his story retold & to live on is heart-warming. Thank you for what you have researched, imagined & told.
Now for the meat, which is your superb writing. You have such a creative ability to get to the nub of people’s character and set it to paper. It is a skill, and I admire it greatly. You have done a fantastic job in writing a story to bring to life an era, on the other side of the world, of people and families you never knew. Indeed a way of life entirely different from your own.
Marie Brown (Daughter of Harry Hildyard)
Quite a significant project you have completed, Don!! I want to thank you for all of your interest in my Dad’s story. Your time and literary prowess have resulted in the culmination of this book. I think your idea for the cover is outstanding.
Good Read and Amazon Reviews
Barry Hammond Really liked it. Author Don Levers tells the stories of four ordinary soldiers, one of whom is his father, and the circumstances which caused them to be among those who landed on the beaches of Normandy during that historic invasion of World War II, plus 3 brothers who took part in the disastrous earlier Dieppe landing. His accounts focus on how their lives changed because of it and focus on the “what if?” moments when things could have gone the other way for them. These are stories about the meaning of freedom, patriotism, duty, service for your country, living a good life, what it means to be a hero and the relation of chance to life. His recreations have an empathy and attention to detail that put the reader into these events and bring the stories to life, so the reader feels the impact and the reality of what’s happening. A must-read for any history fan. – BH
Joanne Johnson It was amazing. Don Levers has written a moving book, following four soldiers through their experiences during the D-Day invasion of Europe. Talking to their family members, researching old war logs, letters written home and personal diaries, he makes you feel like you know these men. Throughout he asks the question, ‘what if’. What if they hadn’t survived? There are people alive today, who may not have been born, if these young men hadn’t survived to tell their stories.
The book brought me to tears sometimes, especially in light of the devastation that is overwhelming Ukraine now. There are people there, who are going to have their own ‘what if’ moments. Lives are changed by any war, and how many generations will not be born, because of it?
Thankfully the four soldiers, three Canadians and a Brit, did survive and Don has captured their stories masterfully.
A must read for history buffs.
Keegan Gingrich A Must Read Reviewed in Canada on June 1, 2022Don Levers creates a deeply personal narrative about the individual stories of soldiers in the Second World War. In so many accounts of history, the contributions of soldiers are often reduced to facts and figures, failing to account for the individuality of their experiences. The exploration of each soldiers’ “What If?” moments allows the reader to reflect on the near misses of their own life, resulting in a powerful and rewarding reading experience.
Amazon reader Don hit a home run on this book. Though I’m not quite half way through, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the WWII story and events his Dad went through and the others, on their mission on D-Day. Incredible story of family, service to Canada and the commitment to their fellow soldiers. This is a book I will no doubt read more than once. Well done Don
5.0 out of 5 stars Human stories that unfold the big picture of war
Reviewed in Canada on September 5, 2022
Don’s book hits the mark as he brings the reader into the core of the action. As an archaeologist, I can fully appreciate the careful detailed narrative that allows readers to follow the soldier’s steps. Many history books will focus on the big picture, relating how an attack was planned, how many men died during a battle for instance. Although this information is useful, it does not allow the reader to immerse in the individual trajectory that brings the comprehension of history to another level: the personal one. However, when you follow one soldier, feeling what he felt, it becomes an entry door to the bigger picture.
Don’s book opens that door.
His 5 stories, including his father’s, make you feel the tension, the fear, the emotions of these young men who, by their outstanding deeds, changed the course of history. You get to see that war, as horrible as it can be, was experienced on so many emotional levels depending on the men. These stories remind us that freedom was conquered by millions of tiny individual actions: theirs.
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ! A deeply personal account of a pivitol event in world history.
Reviewed in Canada on August 31, 2022
Having known Don for well over a decade as a friend and in my capacity purchasing agent for our federal government when Don was running his business, he has always been as “stickler for details”, getting high-quality requirements done right and in the best ways. He has always been a great communicator.
As an author, Don brings that and more to the fore in this deeply personal and eloquently written book, together with detailed on-the-ground accounts of his father and others who were there, risking it all in that epic battle in which so many of their comrades heroically lost their lives. So well researched, this superb and vital account stands as a must read for one of the most horrific, yet pivotal must-be-done events in world history. And the “What if?” moments draw the reader in and inspire looks at pivotal events in their own lives.
Well done, Don!
Other reader reviews
Carol Henderson Just finished this amazing book. the ending mad me teary eyed. I really appreciate how much work went into putting it all together. Honestly, it gives me a different perspective on the war. It was really brought home to me.
Reviewed in Canada on November 30, 2022
I am personally grateful for this book that Don put together and has shared with the rest of the world. I was blown away when I saw Don’s interview on Global TV as the front cover has my Uncles’ photo. I immediately contacted Don to get this book only to quickly read that his father and my Uncle were in the same regiment. I was finally able to have a vision of what he went thru leading up to D Day and on the day itself. A lot of what if moments. What if he hadn’t been shot in the first wave….. This book is a must read for any Canadian who is grateful for our freedom! Well done Don!
5.0 out of 5 stars Good companion to The Longest Day
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2022
All of us WW II buffs know about D-Day and all the horror, but most of what we know is the campaign rather than personal stories. That’s why I recommend this book to military enthusiasts. Further, this book details the Canadian experience! How many stories can say that?
Aside from the great pose, the cover depicts an actual landing craft from WWII. However, atop this is laid a photograph of a statue of an older gentleman, a veteran, looking down upon youth about to embark on the great battle. Definitely a 5-Star read!
Praise for Our Father’s Footsteps
“Even oral histories rarely capture the mundane daily experiences of individuals in combat. Beginning with his own father, Levers recreates the stories of four veterans, deftly weaving family memorabilia together with historical accounts of the Normandy invasion in 1944. Throughout, he reflects on the “What if?” possibilities that shaped the trajectories of their lives back then, just as our own lives are shaped by such experiences today. A thought-provoking and interesting book.”
Peter Denton, Associate Professor of History (Adjunct), Royal Military College of Canada
Before agreeing to edit the book, I sent it to my lifelong friend Brad Talbot. Brad has a Master’s in Education. I knew Brad would give me a blunt unbiased review regardless of our friendship. So I waited nervously to get his initial impressions, knowing he wouldn’t hesitate to pan it if he didn’t like it.
The following was his first impression and allowed me a huge sigh of relief.
Let me start off with a “big salute and congratulations” on a job well done. Your research and focus on detail are not only educational but quite captivating for any reader. The picture inserts are extremely effective and provide that degree of authenticity that really brings the story to life.
I just finished the first reading, Our Fathers’ Footsteps. As I was involved in many of the circumstances described, I wish it would go on and on. You wrote it almost as if you were there.
Jim Parks (Surviving Veteran, The Royal Winnipeg Rifles.)
I sent the manuscript to numerous publishers. This was the best rejection letter I ever received and helped to validate this project.
Thank you for bringing “Our Fathers’ Footsteps (Stories of World War II Veterans “What If” Moments)” to the University of Alberta Press. I appreciate your interest in the Press, but unfortunately, this manuscript does not fit our publishing program. This is a worthy topic, and your writing is strong and accessible; I read the sample you provided of your father’s experiences with interest and felt that it clipped along at an engaging pace.
Michelle Lobkowicz Acquisitions Editor, Humanities and Literature
“The author has blended some genuinely harrowing and thought-provoking veteran accounts with an insightful narrative to transport the reader back to the Second World War. In doing so, he poses intriguing questions about the randomness of combat and why some participants survive to tell the tale and others don’t. Our Fathers’ Footsteps tells the story from the point of view of the participants. The extra level of information you have provided makes this book a good read for people like myself. For example, you mention the villages by name, how far away they are and in what direction. That’s the kind of detail that is often missing from accounts taken from veterans. They knew what they were doing, but not necessarily where and against whom.”
Paul Woodadge – Author and Historian.
Host of You tube’s WW2TV
“With meticulous attention to atmosphere and detail, Don Levers has created a ground-level portrait that brings to life the hopes, fears, everyday joys and frustrations of those who went off to fight in the Second World War on behalf of Canada – and democracy. Our Fathers’ Footsteps is a loving, highly readable tribute to the men and women of that period, what they lived through – and what we still owe them.”
Anthony Wilson Smith – (President and C.E.O) Historica Canada
“Don Levers details the lives of three Canadians and a Brit. They faced the extraordinary events on D-Day in WWII. Combining the personal with the historical, the author captures the essence of what it was like for these men to leave their families and participate in the dramatic Normandy landings beginning on June 6, 1944. Using letters and diaries never before published, Don Levers has provided an intimate glimpse into the thoughts and emotions of men facing their first combat, the weight of their nation’s very existence on their shoulders.
Beginning with his father’s story, a veteran of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the reader is immediately transported into 1940’s Manitoba. Impeccably researched, there is plenty here for both the historian and the WWII buff. The photographs alone are worth the purchase of this book. As well, the narration illuminates and brings to life what it was like to answer the call of duty, which motivated these men to face the most defining event of their generation.”
James Ballard Author, Poisoned Jungle
Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Associations’ Ben Franklin Award
“What a great reading adventure into the history of war! Our Fathers’ Footsteps is well written and should be on every bookshelf.”
Myra Miller, PhD, Footsteps Researchers
“Our Fathers’ Footsteps is a poignant chronicle. Don’s book is unique. It examines history from a different perspective, as the author states: What if? Immensely readable and thoroughly researched, Don’s pursuit of Veteran’s next of kin in Normandy during the 75th Anniversary of D-Day is what makes this chronicle diverse.”
Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) J. Brian Batter, M.M.M., C.D. The Royal Winnipeg Rifles
“Don Levers has produced an outstanding tribute to his father and other D-Day and Normandy Veterans. Born in the wake of the 75th anniversary, Our Fathers’ Footsteps puts the reader in the shoes of the Veterans as they experienced their own “what if” moments during the war.”
Alex Fitzgerald-Black, MA Executive Director | Juno Beach Centre Association