Blood and Daring

Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation

The book reads like a novel and tells the story of Canada’s engagement in the American Civil War through the lens of six fascinating characters: a fugitive slave, a covetous American secretary of state, a New Brunswick woman who served in the Union army disguised as a man, a newspaper man turned political visionary, a master of Confederate spies operating from a Toronto hotel, and the masterful politician who forged a nation under the imminent threat of invasion. The gripping account offers a fresh understanding of the founding of one nation, and the redemption and revival of another in era that continues to define them both.

Blood and Daring became a national best seller when released in hardcover and e-book in May, 2013. It was released in paperback in May, 2014. In November 2014, Laval University Press released it in French translation and was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Prize.

                                                                        voisins et ennemis


Globe and Mail – Editor’s Choice on list of Best Books 2013

Amazon – Editor’s Choice on list of top 100 Books of 2013


“Blood and Daring is a well-organized and well-written account of the complicated relationship between the American Civil War and the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 out of three British North American colonies. [Boyko] employs an effective organizational device, combined with a lively writing style, which contributes to the book’s narrative flow: the intersection of key issues and events with important or representative individuals. – Civil War Book Review – Louisiana State University

“A thrilling, near-theatrical look at the years leading up to Confederation. . . . The authoritative narration is clear, precise, and entirely enjoyable for non-scholars. The book presents a startlingly unfamiliar and ominously dangerous period in Canadian-American relations; the world’s longest undefended border was in danger of bursting into flames, unless a unified country could emerge from the tangle of British colonies. It’s the birth of Canada in all its glory and muck.” – Publishers Weekly, New York (starred review)

“A suspenseful book of popular history.” – The Globe and Mail

“As John Boyko shows in this fascinating account . . . there is much more to the story of Canada’s interaction with Civil War. . . . [A] wonderful and seamless popular history full of colourful characters, intrigue and political backstabbing of the first order. Though there is no secret as to how the book ends . . . he deftly adds enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages. . . . Boyko’s accomplished narrative is precisely the kind of popular history that deserves a wide audience.” – National Post

“An important new book. . . . What makes John [Boyko]’s work special among the hundreds of other books on the subject of the American Civil War is that it deals with a half-dozen little known aspects of that tumultuous conflict, each of which contributed to the ultimate creation of the new Dominion of Canada. . . . Must reading for all patriotic Canadians.” – Toronto Sun

“This book is an excellent addition to the story of how we came to define ourselves as a nation, and a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the bedrock on which this country was built.” – Quill and Quire (starred review)

“Boyko . . . takes an enjoyable look at Canadian-American relations during the Civil War. . . . But it is the human stories that really sell Boyko’s book.” – Ottawa Citizen

“Boyko has spun a compelling narrative. Better still, it’s supported by just the right measure of academic rigour.” – Winnipeg Free Press

“Rather than present a chronological account of the war and Canadians’ participation in it . . . Boyko chose six unusual people from that era, and told their stories. . . . [Blood and Daring is] a fast-paced book that reads much like a novel.” – The Peterborough Examiner

“Boyko’s writing offers the first comprehensive book for a general audience on how the American Civil War affected Canadians and Maritimers, and how this war, raging from 1861–1865, was instrumental to Confederation in 1867. . . . If you are interested in this time period in the life of Canada and the United States, you are guaranteed to learn things you never knew.” – Cape Breton Post

“Boyko . . . enlists [John] Anderson and five other ‘guides’ to give this sprawling story a human face. Their personal struggles and triumphs provide the framework for a complex tale of military campaigns and political intrigue. . . . Boyko injects new life and drama into the narrative for a general audience. He builds on the large body of scholarly work on the era and adds insights gleaned from his own extensive research into the archival record.” – Canada’s History

“With verve, passion and impeccable research, Boyko makes this vital story come alive.” – Richard Gwyn, award-winning author of John A. and Nation Maker

“In this lively and eye-popping book, John Boyko shows how the war and its aftermath not only gave the United States a new birth of freedom; it also gave birth to the new nation of Canada.” – James McPherson, Princeton University’s Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom.

Please visit your local book store if you can find one or the book is available here:

French Translation:

3 thoughts on “Blood and Daring

  1. I just finished reading blood and daring. I had to laugh at my complete ignorance of any Canadian role in the US civil war. I don’t recall a single mention of any of those issues in my California education. Very refreshing to view my home country through a different set of lenses. Thank you very much.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.