In Verdun, English and French speakers lived side by side. Through their home-front activities as much as through enlistment, they proved themselves partners in the prosecution of Canada’s war. Shared experiences and class similarities shaped responses based first and foremost in a sense of local identity.
Fighting from Home paints a comprehensive, at times intimate, portrait of Verdun and Verdunites at war. Durflinger offers an innovative interpretive approach to wartime Canadian and Quebec social and cultural dynamics. It will appeal to anyone interested in the history of the Canadian home front during the Second World War.
Fighting from Home is an essential contribution to Canadian military and social history. Serge Durflinger’s innovative work transforms this story of ordinary people in wartime into a nuanced analysis that will strike a chord with a broad audience.
Never look too closely,’ the professionals told me; it only complicates the story. Serge Durflinger got up close with the Montreal suburb of Verdun. The results are fascinating. You may find that Quebec and the Second World War never look the same again.
Aided by photos and a map, Durflinger evokes the sense of local community so vital 70 years ago but only a memory in our age of mega-cities and websites ... Durflinger has otherwise excelled in capturing the spirit of those times, so distant now, in one little corner of Canada.
Durflinger [has] crafted a community portrait of wide breadth that leaves few relevant aspects of wartime life unexplored ... This work has much to recommend it. The author is well versed in the general literature and readers will appreciate the way he situates local history within the larger national picture ... Durflinger's research is thorough, blending the relevant secondary reading with research in local archives and oral history interviews. It would make a valuable addition to undergraduate history courses ... Besides its relevance for both social and military historians, the book should also appeal to a more popular audience, for the main questions it poses continue to resonate in contemporary society.
Fighting From Home is a welcome addition to the Canadian literature on the Second World War. Serge Durflinger introduces readers to mid-twentieth-century Verdun, a linguistically-mixed, working-class city bordering Montreal. His lively study of civic pride and wartime patriotism breaks new ground in attempting to understand war at the local level.
Introduction: Studying War at the Local Level
1 Forging a Community
2 Once More into the Breach
3 City Hall Goes to War
4 The People’s Response
5 Institutions and Industry
6 Family and Social Dislocation
7 The Political War
8 Peace and Reconstruction
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