Sexual sizzle, media hype, and the madness of crowds – Trudeaumania might be dismissed as Canada’s crazy sixties’ moment, were it not that there was method in the mania.
In 1968, Canadians took a chance on a new kind of politician. Pierre Trudeau, a relative newcomer to federal politics, became the leader of the Liberal Party that April. Within two months, a desire for renewal, nationalist ambition, and media hype propelled him to election triumph.
Trudeau was seen as a transformative figure who would rejuvenate the nation in keeping with the idealistic hopes of the times.
While there have been many biographies of the man, Paul Litt has written the definitive account of the phenomenon. Trudeaumania: when the fabled spirit of the sixties – protest movements, the counterculture, sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia – met ambitious Canadian nationalism and the collective excitement generated by the Centennial and Expo 67, with dramatic results.
Canadians wanted to modernize their nation, differentiate it from the United States, and thwart the threat of Quebec separatism. And Trudeau became their means of doing so. The mania that swept the country was an exercise in national identity formation that would define the values of Canadians for decades to come.
This is not so much about Trudeau as it is about the cultural phenomena of Trudeaumania. What contributed to this craze? What made Trudeaumania such a cultural time in Canada?
This is the first book to look at the phenomena, timely considering his son is now in office.We will be executing a full publicity campaign for this book and the author is ready to act as a commentator on Trudeaumania (both iterations?).
This book is a fascinating study of image and popularity in the age of mass media. Though much has already been written about Pierre Trudeau, Litt gives us a new perspective on the way in which the age, the man, and an enthralled media combined to propel Trudeau to be prime minister of Canada. - Doug Owram, author of Born at the Right Time: A History of the Baby Boom Generation
In unpacking Trudeau the Elder’s rocket-fuelled rise to power in the sixties, Paul Litt provides a fascinating and essential account of the politician as signifier: of a nation, of an era, of dreams, hopes, and fears. Trudeaumania is as much about who we were as who he was: a nation sorely in need of a symbol. - Geoff Pevere, co-author of Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey and author of Donald Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road and Gods of the Hammer: The Teenage Head Story
A variety of memoirs, biographies, and histories have dealt with the life and times of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau but none have captured the excitement and drama of “Trudeaumania” as well as this book does. Paul Litt artfully combines thorough research with a penetrating media analysis to create the most definitive account of that extraordinary phenomenon of Trudeaumania ever published. - Paul Rutherford, author of When Television Was Young: Primetime Canada 1952-1967
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.- Allen Mills, professor of political science, University of Winnipeg, Joint review of "Trudeaumania" by Paul Litt and "Trudeaumania" by Robert Wright, Canada's History
[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.- Penny Bryden, University of Victoria, Canadian Journal of History
…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. - Robert Collison, The Toronto Star, November 20, 2016
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. - Sheilla Jones, Winnipeg Free Press, November 1, 2016
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.- Thirstan Falconer, Department of History, University of Victoria, American Review of Canadian Studies
Nearly a generation after his death, Liberals still speak of the age of Trudeau. The facts are even better than the myth. - Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter
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. - Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2016
This well-written and well-researched book is the best on the Trudeau phenomenon. Summing Up: Essential.- J.L. Granatstein, York University, CHOICE, April 2017
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. - Derek Abma, The Hill Times, August 8, 2016
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