Bomb Girls: Trading Aprons for Ammo

Reviewed by Laina Hughes

Posted March 23, 2016

The phrase “bomb girls” conjures up all sorts of glamorous images: rows of ingenues coquettishly sweating on a factory line, powered by sassy grit and girlish determination. Perhaps the tragedies of war are easier to digest when we personify the war effort via characters such as plucky young dames with shiny curls and lipstick, rolling up their sleeves to help the boys overseas.

Historian Barbara Dickson’s Bomb Girls: Trading Aprons for Ammo strips away such stereotypes and gets to the truth of the matter, as she describes the reality of munitions makers in Second World War-era North America.

Dickson focuses on Canada’s largest fusefilling munitions factory, in Scarborough, Ontario. Bomb Girls offers a rare account of the experiences of more than twenty thousand women and men who risked their lives daily while handling high explosives in a committed effort to help to win the war.

The true story, as illustrated here, is far more compelling than the manufactured images. Bomb Girls reads more like a novel than a work of non-fiction and describes the degree to which individuals will come together in support in times of crisis.

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