- The Patriotic Consensus: Unity, Morale, and the Second World War in Winnipeg by Jody Perrun
In The Patriotic Consensus: Unity, Morale, and the Second World War in Winnipeg, author Jody Perrun sets out to focus on human activity at the community level in Winnipeg during the period of total war between 1939 and 1945, in order “to better understand the significance of local responses to national policies” (11). The aim of this work, in his words, “is to explore two general questions. The first pertains to unity, and the extent to which Winnipeg-gers pulled together in a time of national crisis. … The second concerns morale.” (12). The author navigates the answers to both questions successfully, using a variety of excellent local and national archival sources, as well as a sound selection of secondary sources.
Within the six thematic chapters of the book, Perrun is careful to include the voices, opinions, and actions of the various groups (aside from Aboriginals, who receive scant attention) who made up Winnipeg’s cultural and ethnic mosaic. There is also a strong women’s voice woven into the overall narrative. Another strength of this work is Perrun’s explanation and integration of local and national organizations, including private or nongovernment organizations in what he labels the effort of “pulling together” (145). An additional asset of the book is its constant reminder to the reader of a community involved at a local level within the paradigm of national and international total war, and the complete mobilization of all local resources to benefit the war effort and the investment in victory.
The obvious drawback of the book is its sole focus on Winnipeg, which detracts from its appeal to a wider audience outside Winnipeg, and perhaps Manitoba. Conversely, while the emphasis is on the community of Winnipeg, the author includes too much extraneous information detailing other Manitoban and Canadian communities—and also national information—to support his arguments. This detracts from the book.
These minor critiques aside, Perrun has written an excellent study on the influences and responses to total war at the local level in Canada through the medium of Winnipeg. By focusing on a microcosm of the nation-state, the diverse voices of the community speak through the pages and the war becomes more real. [End Page 147]