Not for King or Country tells the story of Edward Cecil-Smith, a dynamic propagandist for the Communist Party of Canada during the Great Depression. Born to missionary parents in China in 1903, Cecil-Smith came to Toronto in 1919 where he joined the Canadian militia and lived a happy life ensconced in the Protestant missionary community of Toronto. He became increasingly interested in radical politics during the 1920s, eventually joining the Communist Party in 1931. Worried by the growing strength of fascism around the world, particularly in China, Germany, Italy, and Spain during the summer of 1936, Cecil-Smith quietly departed Canada and became among the first volunteers to fight for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Cecil-Smith was motivated to fight not out of any sense of traditional patriotism (“for king or country”) but out of a sense that the onward march of fascism had to be stopped, and Spain was where the line had to be drawn.
Not for King or Country is the first biography of a Canadian commander in the Spanish Civil War, and is also the first book to critically analyse the major battles in which the Canadian and American volunteers fought. Drawing upon declassified RCMP files, records held in the Russian Archives in Moscow, audio recordings of the volunteers, a detailed survey of maps, and battle records, as well as the Communist Party press, Not for King or Country breaks down the battles and the Party's activities in a way that will be accessible to interested readers and scholars alike.