In 1968, Canadians dared to take a chance on a new kind of politician. Pierre Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party in April and two months later won the federal election. His meteoric rise to power was driven by Trudeaumania, an explosive mix of passion and fear fueled by media hype and nationalist ambition. This book traces what happened when the fabled spirit of the sixties met the excitement of the Centennial and Expo 67. Canadians wanted to modernize their nation, differentiate it from the US, and defuse Quebec separatism. Far from being a sixties crazy moment, Trudeaumania was a passionate quest for a new Canada that would define the values of Canadians for decades to come.
Paul Litt is a professor in the Department of History and the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. His research explores the intersection of culture, nationalism, and the mass media in twentieth-century Canada. He is the author of several books, including The Muses, the Masses and the Massey Commission and Elusive Destiny: The Political Vocation of John Napier Turner.
Unlike other literature that examines the controversial leader, Trudeaumania probes beyond Trudeau’s identity, investigating his public image within the context of the 1960s … This account of Trudeaumania is the best study of the phenomenon to date. … Trudeaumania is a must-read for scholars interested in the sixties, counterculture and protest movements, Canadian nationalism, as well as federal politics and Pierre Trudeau.
We may be living through Trudeaumania 2.0 right now, but there are still opportunities to dig deeper into what the first version was all about.
Litt’s Trudeaumania is about sex, sizzle and popular culture. Sex, he writes, had become the central obsession of a pop culture, which 'exploited its power to titillate and sensationalize. Trudeaumania derived much of its sizzle from the sex-obsessiveness and sexism of the time.' It was the time of sexual liberation, Beatlemania and Andy Warhol … both Trudeaumania books are well researched and well written. If you’re more interested in the cultural phenomenon that was Trudeaumania, that’s what Litt offers.
[A]s Paul Litt ably shows in this magnificent study of a pivotal moment, the original Trudeaumania was much more than throngs of adoring fans, a celebrity politician, and an election victory … This book looks beyond the psychedelic colours and trippy slogans of the 1968 campaign into a much larger and more profound set of cultural and ideational shifts that were occurring in Canada in the late 1960s. Doing so through the lens of the Trudeau moment – for which there seems to be a certain nostalgia today – gives shape and structure to what might have been, in less able hands, a somewhat inchoate inventory of cultural crises. Paul Litt has performed a bit of magic here, giving shape and substance to the smoke and mirrors of an ephemeral 1960s culture.
Nearly a generation after his death, Liberals still speak of the age of Trudeau. The facts are even better than the myth.
This well-written and well-researched book is the best on the Trudeau phenomenon. Summing Up: Essential.
Litt's advantage in this battle of competing interpretations is that his perspective is able to accommodate many factors, rather than emphasizing just one as Wright does … Trudeau's brilliance was that he could master the lecture hall and the TV screen. Appreciating such multiple talents fits more easily into Litt’s account of him than Wright's.
…it is Paul Litt’s book, simply titled Trudeaumania, that fully embraces the idea of Trudeau as the saviour Canadians had been hankering for in the wake of upheavals catalyzed by separatism and the’60s. Unquestionably, he arrived on the scene at a propitious time.
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.