Best Book in Political History Prize
Paul Litt, Trudeaumania. Vancouver, UBC Press, 2016.
Paul Litt’s remarkable book, Trudeaumania, examines the role played by the media in the political ascent of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the later 1960s. Litt adopts a political culture approach in his analysis of the Trudeaumania phenomenon. Drawing on a rich documentary source base, and developing an analysis that deepens as the ten chapters progress, Litt demonstrates with brilliance and finesse that Trudeaumania was the product of a wide range of factors: the countercultural values of the “baby-boom” generation, the anti-establishment “mod” style that Trudeau appropriated, the sexual revolution that would change the way male politicians could play with sexual codes in public life, the stimulation of Canadian nationalism by the centennial celebrations and particularly Expo 67, the intellectual vocabulary of Canadian liberalism that Trudeau used and shaped, television as a cultural medium projecting images of the “nation”, and the use of political marketing to mold and popularize Trudeau’s image. Skillfully written and visually appealing, this book depicts Trudeaumania as a cynically-used tool, but one that nevertheless had some intellectual substance. It fostered a social project that reshaped the Liberal party and represented the first step in a profound transformation of the Canadian symbolic order.