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 Featured Title
Fighting from Home
The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec
Serge Marc Durflinger  

$87.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 5/7/2006
ISBN: 9780774812603    

$36.95 Paperback
Release Date: 11/1/2006
ISBN: 9780774812610    

296 Pages

Studies in Canadian Military History series


About the Book

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.

Published in association with the Canadian War Museum.

About the Author(s)

Serge Durflinger is Associate Professor of History at the University of Ottawa.

Table of Contents

Maps, Tables, and Illustrations

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



Select Bibliography



’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.
—Desmond Morton, author of Fight or Pay: Soldiers’ Families in the First World War

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.
—Magda Fahrni, author of Household Politics: Montreal Families and Postwar Reconstruction

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.
—Roch Legault, author of La Première Guerre Mondiale et le Canada: Contributions Socio-militaires Québécoises.

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.
—Brian Kappler, Montreal Gazette Review, July 2006.

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.
Jody Perrun, H-Canada, August 2006

A native of Verdun… a former researcher for the Ottawa War Museum and a professor at the University of Ottawa, Serge-Marc Durflinger affords us a glimpse into an, often little understood, period of our common history.
—Pierre Lussier, Messager Verdun, September 2006.

Durflinger’s book is the first detailed examination of a single town during WWII. Everything is here--recruiting, juvenile delinquency and social dislocation, housing shortages, rationing and local, provincial, and federal politics. This is a first-class, readable study.
—J. L. Granatstein, Legion Magazine, September/October 2006

Canadian military history now clearly encompasses social history, and Durflinger’s fine prose blends it all into a very readable story that adds significantly to our understanding of Quebec and Canada.
- J.L. Granatstein, CBRA 2006

Fighting from Home is the product of meticulous research into the municipal workings and community spirit of wartime Verdun, Quebec’s third-largest city during the war of 1939-45.

Durflinger illustrates the civic pride and cooperative mechanisms which combined to make Verdun experience of the war remarkable.

Durflinger intended his work as a "wartime municipal biography," (205) a focus which allows him to offer welcome insight into issues that are usually examined from the national or provincial level.

With detailed research and documentation, Durflinger employs statistical analysis to substantiate his findings and compare Verdun’s statistics to national averages. His maps and charts are helpful, particularly in analyzing electoral returns. Quantitative analysis is used wherever possible, employing city, church, and school records, where narrative accounts from journals, interviews, and newspaper articles provide a feel for how individuals experienced the war.

Durflinger’s study of Verdun employs urban history to provide a fresh look at the Canadian homefront.
- James A. Wood, Wilfrid Laurier University, Urban History Review, Vol. Xxxvi, No. 1, Fall 2007

As a local case study his book is painstakingly researched, clearly written, often critical, yet implicitly patriotic - that is, motivated by a deeply felt sense of writing a community-based history from a place he grew up in that contributed in many positive ways to Canada’s war effort: Verdun’s ‘good war.’

From his opening chapter, which sets the stage for September 1939, to his detailed account of the veterans’ return, Durflinger has done both the research digging and the writer’s job of crafting clear, succinct narratives. It is a lucid, lively account.

Durflinger’s lively and well crafted account on Verdun’s place in Canada’s war is a revealing and well-researched study of how an important working-class community came together to provide its youth, its energies, and its organisational capacity to support the war effort overseas and at home.
- Robert Rutherdale, Algoma University College, Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 60, Fall 2007

Cette étude sociomilitaire offre donc un portrait plutôt exhaustif de la participation des Verdunois à l’effort de guerre canadien. Basé sur une recherche fouillée dans les archives municipals, les hebdomadaires locaux, dex fonds gouvernementaux et privés et quelques entrevues, l’ouvrage campe bein son sujet et prend soin de situer la trame des événements qui se déroulent à l’échelle locale dans le contexte plus large de la situation et des politiques canadiennes.
- Denyse Baillargeon, University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 1, Winter 2008

Recent years have seen an exciting variety of scholarship about Canada ’s military past
and the challenges that accompanied it. […] 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. […] This carefully-presented volume is a useful scholarly addition to the academic trend noted at the outset. Durflinger has worked hard and as a result we learn more about the nature of the home front.
- Hugh Mellon, King’s University College, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 21.1, Spring 2008

Serge Marc Durflinger’s book, Fighting from Home, is a welcome addition to the literature of social life during World War II. In this well-researched and clearly articulated examination of one Quebec city (and suburb), Verdun, the author explores the dynamics of community development and social identity during the tumultuous war years. […] Fighting from Home raises critical questions about place and people and deploys a rich set of evidence to make some compelling arguments about the response of one city to the onslaught of war. Scholars interested in the social history of place, identity, and community will find much here that is illuminating.
- Robert Lewis, University of Toronto, Histoire sociale/Social History, Vol.XL, No.79, May 2007

This is an excellent work of scholarship, providing a useful addition to both wartime social history and urban studies. It provides a useful model for specialists pursuing local examinations of the Canadian home front during the Second World War, while its lively writing and insightful stories make it enjoyable for those with a general interest in the subject.
- Tavis Harris, Wilfrid Laurier University,Journal of Military History, Vol.73, No.1, January 2009

Sample Chapter

Front Matter and Chapter One

Related Topics

History > Canada
History > Military

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