cover image Trudeaumania


Paul Litt. UBC (Univ. of Washington, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $39.95 (408p) ISBN 978-0-7748-3404-9

Like Beatlemania, Pierre Trudeau's lightning-fast ascension to the office of Canada's prime minister marked a confluence of technology, 1960s youth culture, and a yearning to create alternatives to what seemed like stuffy old orthodoxies. Litt's accessible, detailed history explores how the wave of Canadian centennial nationalism%E2%80%94magnified by the Expo67 Fair%E2%80%94as well as the country's rapidly changing cultural, social, and political currents sowed the seedbed from which emerged a hipster leader who, though age 49, was portrayed as the symbol of a new generation, a man whose sandal-wearing, yoga-practicing, devil-may-care mien appeared in sync with the times. Litt rejects hagiography and baby boomer nostalgia, preferring an objective evaluation of the era. He includes anecdotes, photos, and editorial cartoons that provide a warts-and-all feel for the time. Acknowledging that Trudeau was often more style than substance, Litt makes extensive use of Marshall McLuhan's guidebook to the rapidly evolving television age, noting its importance in election campaigns, while also plumbing the casually accepted sexism that played into the media's fascination with Trudeau's prolific dating choices. By showing that Trudeau's first election was not the overwhelming mandate that those still under the Trudeaumania spell might recall, Litt provides a solid antidote to rose-colored views of Canada's '60s and one of its most iconic leaders. (Oct.)