Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec

Article excerpt

Serge Durflinger, Fighting From Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2006), 296pp. Cased. $85. ISBN 978- 0-7748-1260-3. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-1261-0.

Recent years have seen an exciting variety of scholarship about Canada's military past and the challenges that accompanied it. Scholars such as Jack Granatstein, Terry Copp and Desmond Morton have contributed to this body of work as well as inspiring new additions. Durflinger's Fighting From Home offers a detailed look at the home front in the Montreal-area community of Verdun. The book's geographic focus may be narrow but conceptually it raises a collection of issues relating to the intersection of war and the home front life of a tightly-knit community. The home front was a quieter place than the battlefield but still there were debates and adjustments. Amid cigarette and bond drives, and welcomes for war heroes, there were sensitivities over language and conscription. The war also brought the world closer to home in new ways. Durflinger reports that 2-300 'Verdunites had married overseas' (p. 198). Overall, the author offers an entrée to the larger issues of life at home during war.

There are at least three elements of the book which strongly appealed to me. First is the strong sense of place: we are invited as readers into a particular place at a particular point in time. There is a clear effort by the author to situate us in this milieu. Second is the discussion of particularly colourful personalities in the text, and in the photos and their accompanying commentaries. Accounts of war ace George Beurling, Mayor Edward Wilson and the patriotic female activist R. …

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