Best Book in Political History Prize
Ian Mosby, Food Will Win the War: the Politics, Culture, and Science of Food on Canada’s Home Front. UBC Press, 2014.
Food Will Win the War is an incredibly rich work that pushes us to rethink the interventionist state during WWII. It is a reconsideration of the home front that touches on everything from the politics of science to gender to changing consumption patterns to the state’s handling of ethnic and racial diversity. Mosby focusses on food production, consumption and regulation during WWII alongside an innovative account of the symbolism and culture of food, marrying the gender politics of food with the wartime policies of the state. That the gender politics of consumption and cooking fuelled that divide is no surprise but the account is beautifully told and rich with detailed evidence. From the beginning, with its magisterial and generous overview of the field, through to the searing postwar consequences and conclusions, the author has produced a mature, sophisticated, and important book.
Suzanne Morton, Wisdom, Justice, & Charity: Canadian Social Welfare Through the Life of Jane B. Wisdom, 1884-1975. University of Toronto Press, 2014.
Wisdom, Justice, & Charity relates the life story and experiences of Jane Wisdom, one of Canada’s first social workers, to a number of important currents in the development of social welfare in Canada. Wisdom worked with the poor in a remarkable variety of settings, and in very different North American contexts of metropolitan and peripheral poverty and struggle. Morton captures the social, cultural, and political mood of each of these locales magnificently. While Wisdom’s ambitions were antithetical to politics for the early part of her life as she believed in private charity rather than unearned state payouts and in apolitical professionalism, practical experience working with the poor taught her to welcome political life and logic. Morton’s book serves as a real parable for our apolitical times: that the value of politics may be learned in practical interaction with people who need help in one form or another at certain periods in their lives.