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Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)

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Finding Vivian Maier [Import]
Finding Vivian Maier [Import]
Price: CDN$ 31.14
21 used & new from CDN$ 18.76

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spy Who Loved to Take Pictures.., Oct. 12 2014
The true measure of any artist is often found in his or her ability to become totally obsessed with their medium without any thought of public recognition or sense of personal achievement. Vivian Maier, the solitary street photographer of the last century in Chicago, just loved taking pictures of anything that exuded life across a wide gamut of emotions and experiences. People like myself who are hearing about Maier for the first time are shocked to learn that she rarely developed any of the hundreds of thousands of pictures she took because that was not her strength. This lonely individual, a Jewish nanny by trade and a photo buff took her rolliflex everywhere she went in life, quite often with charges in tow, looking to secretly capture those striking images of people in their strongest or weakest moments. The story for this documentary is one of intrigue and bemusement. A young photo enthusiast cum collector came across some of her undeveloped work posthumously available in a garage sale. Impressed with it, he then made it his life calling to discover her true genius. It was his digging and probing that eventually uncovered the full nature of what this woman did in virtual obscurity. This DVD covers both the poignancy of her photography in the US and abroad and the story behind this fascinating journey into the lives of strangers. The exhibits he has put together in honor of this eccentric, hoarder of an artist have been effective in reuniting many of their subjects with moments in the past. The many boxes of letters and journals that he has recovered from long forgotten storage depots, and subsequently analyzed, speak to a deeply troubled and socially inept soul unable to relate to people except through the lens of her camera, a gift from her long-deceased mother. This very private woman has gone out in her own inimitable way and broken through the veil of privacy in other people's lives, making the sum total of her work both arresting and extraordinary.

The Travels of Marco Polo: Edited by Peter Harris
The Travels of Marco Polo: Edited by Peter Harris
by Marco Polo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.81
25 used & new from CDN$ 16.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Take a Journey Back in Time Along the Silk Road, Oct. 5 2014
I took up this book as background reading for a course I took recently on the history of ancient civilizations. What I learned from this famous work of Marco Polo about his travels in the 13th century across Eurasia via the Silk Road is that the study of history is much more than an examination and exultation of great people. What Polo described about his extensive journey, in the company of his uncle and father, illustrates how culture, economics and politics come together over time and distance to form civilizations whose reach goes well beyond human imagination, the accuracy of which has long since been verified. The reader gets to see how the many tribes along this great trade route succeeded in adopting the Tartar-Turkic system of empire building to protect their territorial interests, become part of an interterritorial trade base, and thus bring the wonders of the east to the west. Everywhere Polo went along this seven thousand mile trail, whether it was through the Zagros Mountains, or the Hindu Kush, or along the Grand Canal of the Soong Dynasty, he and his expedition became witnesses to one of the first integrated economic trading corridors where gold, jewels, saffron, silk, paper, pepper, salt, spices, horses, cattle, tea, coffee, incense, and numerous other precosities became interchangeable commodities that flowed amongst a network of political tributaries all connected to Genghis Khan. The rule of the Grand Khan, from his palace in Xuanhua, was truly magnificent, given the fact that it originated only a century or so earlier in the steppelands of Outer Mongolia. Those people who tried to resist the Mongol expansion paid dearly with death and destruction, as seen in the siege of Baghdad. Local customs and interesting practices and innovations get plenty of attention in this book as the Polo family served both as trade envoys and diplomats for the Khan dynasts in their oversight of their vast lands. To complete the circle, the latter part of this complex story details the trip back to Venice via the Indian Ocean. This time the Polos went replete with incredible wealth and a dispensation to bring about a meeting of the Pope and Kublai Khan himself. If there is anything seemingly farfetched in this account, remember it is being told by someone who is being exposed for the first time to phenomena unknown to western eyes and minds at the time.

Shame and the Captives
Shame and the Captives
by Thomas Keneally
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.68
20 used & new from CDN$ 4.45

5.0 out of 5 stars A very captivating treatment of history, Oct. 4 2014
This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Hardcover)
Having watched the ABC mini-series on the Cowra Breakout years ago in Australia, I was interested in reading Keneally's take on this tragic moment in World War II. True to form, this renowned Australian novelist has done an excellent job in presenting a very believable and heart-rending story about what happens when different cultures come together in what most of us would assume were safe places in war: the home-front. Who initially could have anticipated a major catastrophe like Cowra in the bucolic backwoods of New South Wales where the locals were living out their ordinary lives in anticipation of the end of war and the homecoming of their loved ones? Nobody, because everyone was caught up in their own private existence, unaware that the war had already ominously come to their community in the form of a very large POW camp that housed prisoners from right across the Axis world. Keneally composes a very engaging narrative that looks at the lives of both locals and prisoners as they come to grips with this new reality and its potential to shape their lives. Soon, no-one will remain unscathed by this fascinating rapprochement that war has visited on them. Friendships will be made, attitudes will harden, and fears grow as this story plays out in seemingly lackadaisical fashion. It is war after all, and everyone has a role to play even it means befriending the POWs out on work release. What they don't know is that something unthinkably terrible is going on under their very noses in the Japanese compound that they have no control over. Something as innocuous as ordering a group picture of the prisoners will quickly mushroom into a full-scale escape that will turn Cowra into a war zone. The strength of this novel lies in the author's ability to bring together a composite of personal stories from different parts of the community that contribute to the incredible build-up in suspense. The reader, once again, is reminded that war, by its code of false honor and fear, comes to divide and destroy even those places that may appear to be sleepy hollows.

On Revolution
On Revolution
by Hannah Arendt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
44 used & new from CDN$ 7.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Political Minds of the 20th Century, Oct. 1 2014
This review is from: On Revolution (Paperback)
This is my second read through a masterful study on the nature of modern revolutions, using two very diametrically different models - the American vs. the French - to make the point that this political phenomenon is not a one-size fits all. By showing how these two political upheavals worked from the inside out, Arendt shows us how the call for radical change, depending on the circumstances, can lead to very different outcomes. In the French case, the proclamation of freedom from the tyranny of Bourbon king quickly became the violent cause of radicals dead set on answering to the suffering of the oppressed, and we all know how they ended with a counter-revolution in Thermidor of 1794. Arendt does a very capable job of analyzing the leadership of Robespierre and the Jacobin movement as they tried to figure out how to liberate the Paris Commune by making the enemies of France - the nobility - pay for creating serious class inequality. When they ran out of aristocrats, the Convention and the Committee of Public Safety turned on its own in its desire to satisfy a growing desire for revenge. That model has played out over and over again in the 19th and 20th century because it puts ideas and principles before people. On the other hand, the American Revolution proceeded on a more peaceful route with an uprising against political tyranny based on a natural right not to be taxed without effective representation. From there, a declaration of independence emerged, followed by an ultimate victory over tyranny and a creation of a constitution that would protect through political checks and balances the rights of the people to a fair and responsible government. In the decades that followed, the United States has parlayed that revolutionary concept into a political system that, for the most part, is stable though boring. Any change to its legal functioning as a country must go through the courts. There is the suggestion here that America prospered as a rising world power in succeeding centuries because it proceeded by way of a focused plan by which to fine-tune and control the long-term objectives of its revolutionary agenda by recognizing the need for a workable framework of government that could improve over time. I recommend this book to anyone interested in coming to grips with why some revolutions succeed while others fail.

Algerian Chronicles
Algerian Chronicles
by Albert Camus
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.24
28 used & new from CDN$ 7.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Jouneys of a Vagabond, Sept. 29 2014
This review is from: Algerian Chronicles (Hardcover)
I have always enjoyed Camus’ ability to capture, in his writings, the human condition of individual despair that comes from not belonging. We are vagabonds, he would argue, who are, like young Comery in "The First Man", forever looking for an illusory place we call home. Since it doesn’t exist except in our minds, our lot is one of continually striving existentially for a perfect world that should not compromise our sense of justice and compassion. Such was the heroic calling of Camus, a famous French writer, who brought a great sense of humanity to his novels and essays. As a journalist for both French and Algerian papers, Camus reported on a number of key issues that affected his homeland and the Fourth French Republic. Focussing on what appears to be the underlying causes of growing dissension within both countries, leading to civil war, Camus pulls no punches. A xenophobia had crept into a society where French, ex-pats (pied-noir), and indigenous people were literally at each others throats in a fight to the death for political control. At the heart of the matter was the horrible plight of the Kabyles - a large group of Algerian Bedouins - caused by the harsh policies of a ruling French colonial administration bent on using terror, starvation and duplicity to subdue them. Many of the articles in this collection address first-hand the daily life of the Kabyles as they struggle to survive and the solutions needed to improve their lot. This is a people with no health care, schooling or a reliable food supply, all issues that the French government played a large role in perpetuating. It is this lack of social conscience that is symptomatic of a larger state: the moral and political declension of the nation as it desperately clung to the vestiges of its colonial past. Living in harmony, the desired state of all humanity, would only happen if the French government of the day started to make some serious compromises that exuded compassion and true Republican egalitarianism.

Aukey 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub Portable Aluminum Hub with 2ft USB 3.0 Cable
Aukey 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub Portable Aluminum Hub with 2ft USB 3.0 Cable
Offered by Aukey Direct
Price: CDN$ 39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More Ports to Enter, Sept. 22 2014
I like the convenience and functionality this little desktop and laptop hub or plugin device offers me. I now have more than enough ports to listen to my MP3, follow my online courses, rapidly transfer files like pictures and books, and tie in my turntable, all at desk level. This is a good purchase if for no other reason than that it allows me to multitask in an easy fashion.

The Necessary War Vol. 1: Canadians Fighting The Second World War:1939-1943
The Necessary War Vol. 1: Canadians Fighting The Second World War:1939-1943
by Tim Cook
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.04
5 used & new from CDN$ 22.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Brilliant Rendition of History, Sept. 22 2014
Once again, Canadian historian Tim Cook has outdone himself in his literary efforts to make Canadians better informed about the other world war that occupied five long and painful years in their national history in the twentieth century. Compared to WWI, World War Two, according to Cook’s analysis, was an international conflict that actually made sense in its attempt to rid the world of fascism. Hitler and Nazism were intent on wrecking global peace by engaging every nation that opposed it in outright war leading to human destruction. This very in-depth study of the Canadian war effort looks at all facets of total war that embraced the nation during these fitful times: Army, navy, airforce and the home-front are described here in vivid detail that includes recent military archives, oral histories, and very unique pictures all wrapped up in very penetrating analysis as to why this war was worth fighting. I have no problems defending this work as one of the best in putting the reader right there in the moment. Like Sir Max Hastings, Cook makes the events all so real and personal in an effort to remove some major misunderstandings. Since this world conflagration presents differently than WWI in scope, cost and consequences, Cook takes a different approach to discussing battle readiness and strategy. In the place of the wholesale slaughter of the Western Front comes attention to other theaters of war: the convoys, the raids, the bombings, and methodical campaigns. This is a war where civilians will suffer more than soldiers, sailors and airmen combined. Two particular accounts that made this book worth reading were Cook’s incredible description of bombing raids over Germany and the failed Allied attack on Dieppe. They were so vividly described that the reader could be excused for thinking he or she was there live in person.

When Heaven Invades Earth
When Heaven Invades Earth
by Bill Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.15
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Living in the Supernatural, Sept. 20 2014
In this inspiring little book on the importance of living spirit-filled lives, Bill Johnson, a pastor and leader of a large evangelical movement across the United States, makes the point that the Kingdom of God has come to dwell within us here on earth. Chapter after chapter in this study emphasizes the truth that it is only by the in-dwelling of His Holy Spirit that Christians can fully appreciate and claim the miracle-working power that is theirs. Using numerous examples of where the supernatural is presently at work in Bethel church in Redding, California, and beyond, Johnson makes a clear case for living in the Spirit. People are being healed, reconciled, and motivated to do good works because they have surrendered their lives to God. This particular title contains a great collection of quotable quotes that help focus the mind on where Johnson is going with this message: statements like "This world is our assignment, not our home. Our purpose is eternal. The resources needed to complete it are eternal. The only restrictions are those between our ears." If we believe that God's supply is illimitable when it comes to pouring out His spirit on the world, shouldn't we want to be the means by which the world encounters that supernatural power? If so, obedience, faith, and praise, as opposed to earthly reason, should feature our relationship with our Creator. This anointing is best expressed when Christians of like desire come together to be used as vessels fit for the Master's use: empty but yearning to be filled.

Stalingrad (Bilingual)
Stalingrad (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Philippe Reinhardt
Offered by Renaud-Bray
Price: CDN$ 23.74
3 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth Watching, Sept. 20 2014
This review is from: Stalingrad (Bilingual) (DVD)
As other reviewers have mentioned already, this production is flat, uninspiring, and a little heavy on the propaganda. Seen through the eyes of a platoon of Russian soldiers set on defending Stalingrad at all costs, this story quickly becomes a patchwork of ill-conceived features that only undermine the real importance of this tragic event. Sensationalized combat scenes meant to appeal to those who like playing video games give it an air of unreality; a thinly veiled attempt to lionize Russian defenders creates characters that talk and act like automatons; and a couple of quirky features such as the absence of subtitles and the occasional annoying monotone voice of a narrator to move things along. It is obvious that too much has been done to fix up this movie for the North American market. One thing in its favour, however, is that it does not let up when it comes to presenting this epic battle in all its mindless fury. In the end, the viewer is left with a collection of images that are supposed to explain that humanity can co-exist with, and even triumph over, savagery in war. The problem here is that the story is not very compelling because the main characters are not allowed to be themselves; they all seem to be operating according to a very controlled script: kill or be killed.

A History of Scotland
A History of Scotland
Price: CDN$ 62.26
20 used & new from CDN$ 52.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyed A Return to the Land of My Forefathers, Sept. 18 2014
This review is from: A History of Scotland (DVD)
Today is a red-letter day in Scotland's history: the Scots get to vote on their future as part of the United Kingdom. In advance of that certain-to-be historic vote, my wife and I have taken the opportunity to watch Neil Oliver's classic video production on the history of Scotland. What we discovered in the many hours of watching as fascinating account of how Scotland came together over the centuries and continues to this day to show a national resilience that allows it to survive while in the embrace of a neighboring nation. Oliver's very informative and amusing commentary, accompanied by shots of breath-taking scenery of this great land of the Picts, Stuarts, MacDonalds et al, make this a worthwhile watch and purchase. I learned a number of interesting things about the geographical, political, economic and social dynamics of this country: one, the country was always a very fragmented entity at best; two, the dynastic ambitions of a Scottish clan can probably be attributed to as the main cause of why Scotland is facing an uneasy dilemma today; and, three, nationalism in Scotland is very authentic and powerful force to be reckoned with. If nothing else, watching this film should warm you up to visit the country and enjoy its rich culture and history.

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