One in a Thousand: The Life and Death of Captain Eddie McKay, Royal Flying Corps
This short microhistory details the life and death of Eddie McKay, a varsity athlete at Western University, who flew with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. Graham Broad switches creatively from telling McKay's fascinating story to teaching valuable lessons on how to do history: why the past matters, why historians take different approaches, how to pose historical questions, how to identify relevant source materials, and the importance of thoughtful, intelligent, and respectful treatment of historical subjects.
The book includes a timeline of the subject's life, a map of relevant combat areas in the Battle of the Somme, and nine illustrations. It concludes with four unsolved events in McKay's life: a mysterious woman, a strange advertisement for batteries, an empty envelope, and an unknown grave—demonstrating that even a detailed history about one person's life is never really complete.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 208 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
"Professor Broad’s extensive notes on how to identify relevant source materials, how to pose questions, and how to assemble a book into a coherent story are invaluable."
World War One Illustrated, July 2018
This well-written and deeply researched microhistory offers a detailed biography of one of Canada's most important fighter pilots from the Great War, Captain Eddie McKay. But the author goes far beyond a traditional biography. He skillfully weaves through the book a robust defence of the historical process as he lays out the writing of the history with its successes and failures, investigative victories, and time-consuming historical dead ends. This forensic deconstruction of historical methods, tools, and approaches is first class.
Tim Cook, Canadian War Museum
One in a Thousand is a fascinating piece of historical detection that brings Eddie McKay to life but also speaks volumes about what historians do and how they treat evidence. It works on many levels: as a sensitive and revealing biography, as a primer in research methods, and as an essay on the philosophy of history. But most of all, it's just a great read about a promising young man whose life was cut short.
Jonathan Vance, Distinguished University Professor, Western University
A fresh approach that incorporates the historian's craft into the writing of history, with an eye for detail that brings alive the life of a First World War Canadian pilot.
Mary Chaktsiris, Wilfrid Laurier University
Author InformationGraham Broad is Associate Professor of History at King's University College at Western University and the author of A Small Price to Pay: Consumer Culture on the Canadian Home Front, 1939-1945 (2013).
Table of contents
Historians and Their Sources
1. To Western and to War: 1892–1916
Historians and Fact Finding
2. Over the Somme: July–October 1916
Triangulation and Reading Against the Grain
3. The Battle, October 28, 1916—March 14, 1917
Mentalité and the Military Past
4. The Choice: March 15–December 28, 1917
Thinking about Thoughts: The Past as a Foreign Country
5. The Letter: January 1918–July 31, 1932
Historians, Historical Ethics, and the End of History
Appendix: The Mysteries
Subjects and Courses