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Profile for Ian Gordon Malcomson > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie (Version française)
Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie (Version française)
DVD ~ n/a
Price: CDN$ 36.34
15 used & new from CDN$ 23.98

5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Many Wanted Covered Up, Feb. 6 2016
I recently watched a German film on the life and times of Klaus Barbie, the infamous Gestapo chief for the city of Lyons between 1942 and 1944. By far, it had to be the best investigative documentary I have ever watched on an historical subject so riddled with controversy, fear, and loathing. Why would this German team of crack investigators and journalists want to compile a lengthy film covering the life of someone so wicked a psychopath who tortured and murdered his victims in order to break the French underground? That storyline is already well known, so why flog a dead horse. Well, the answer is complex, to say the least. Something is going on below the surface. Uneasy consciences and guilty minds are starting to surface. By the time this documentary is done, it is not going to be just Barbie who will be exposed as being evil. To begin with, French authorities got their hands on the elusive Barbie by bringing him back from South America to stand trial for war crimes. It is 1988 and Barbie is a very sick man when the courts give him a life sentence for his crimes. On the surface, that is the plot as far as justice finally being served. But there is a whole other side of this disturbing tale that needs to be told. Questions as to how Barbie managed to avoid prosecution and the death penalty in 1946 still require answers that this team will tirelessly dedicate itself to finding. Back in Lyons there are families of his victims demanding justice for all his atrocities. What these extensive interviews will show is that many so-called decent locals collaborated with Barbie and the Nazis in sending Jews, Resistance members, and young children to their deaths under the most hideous of circumstances. After the war, the American occupation forces knowingly used Barbie and his criminal gang as an intelligence source to infiltrate. What I found very compelling about these many troubling interviews is that they were very probing, sensitive, and revealing as to what the truth really is. This search brought out four very interesting responses from the interviewees: indifference, denial, cooperation, and revenge. This major study proves, once again, that justice doesn’t exist if it isn’t accompanied by a search for the truth.

Paris To the Past: Traveling Through French History By Train
Paris To the Past: Traveling Through French History By Train
by Ina Caro
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.95
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Some Very Viable Touring Options, Feb. 3 2016
It is travelogues like this that make touring so engaging a holiday option. Caro and her husband have become the consummate guides of getting the most out of a vacation in an ancient land like France. Their plan starts with first educating themselves on the culture and history of the area before setting foot on its soil. If France is meant to be your focus, find something to get fired up about. For them, it is the fabled history of kings, abbeys and cathedrals. For me, it was battlefields along the Western Front. Once that knowledge base is established, then comes the delicious opportunity of going out and viewing first-hand the wonders of what you have read about. For this couple, it is a delightful motor trip into the Loire Valley (Kings), followed by a series of very convenient day trips from Paris, by train, to some of the more illustrious spots in French history. After you read this book, you will no longer see the City of Light as the be-all-to-end-all in French culture and iconography. Their story, while living in Paris, covers a number of trips in which they explored a number of cathedral cities ranging from the regal splendors of St.Denis, the quaintness of Leon, the ethereal majesty of Reims, the sacrality of Chartres and numerous others. This is no whirlwind tour. The author shares detail that connects us to the significant changes in architecture, custom, and ethos as France moved from feudal to modern times. Her book is so vividly written that I had no problem understanding that special relationship between monarch and church. Once again, history has done a number on its many splendors and relics, what with the destruction of monasteries, cathedrals, and burial sites during the French Revolution.

Being Nixon: A Man Divided
Being Nixon: A Man Divided
by Evan Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.75
30 used & new from CDN$ 14.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Unequivocal Examination of a Tortured Soul, Feb. 2 2016
I've read few rompingly-good political biographies in my time, and most make a good case as to why the individual in question should, on balance, be remembered for all the right reasons. In "Being Nixon, A man Divided", prominent American journalist Evan Thomas goes one step further: instead of trying to force the issue as to Richard Nixon's presidential place in history, he frames his discussion in terms of a dilemma. Nixon can only be objectively understand in the context of a Shakespearean tragic figure who genuinely wants to do good but continually fails because of a significant character flaw. This study de-emphasizes the ideological in favour of the pathological to get at what truly brought this man down. It wasn't anyone in particular that was the critical nemesis, though Nixon was one very reviled person in Washington circles, nor was it any one particular incident that tipped the balance, though the setting up of the Plumbers in the White House in 1971 comes close. Instead, Thomas introduces us to a credible narrative where Nixon, over a period of five years, repeatedly made executive decisions that bordered on the deeply troubling and borderline crazy. Narcissism and delusional paranoia are terms that come to mind when I read this account. It would appear that Nixon's lack of sound judgment as president could be traced to an aberrant desire to get back at his perceived enemies - the press, the Kennedies, the State Department, Leftists - who tried to prevent him controlling his own destiny. Failure to settle the Vietnam conflict and various economic crisis made his presidency one of growing turbulence in which the blame was entirely everyone else's.

Outsider in the White House
Outsider in the White House
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Bern Identity' Born Large, Jan. 28 2016
As a moderate Conservative, I find I am spending more time pursuing new political interests like listening to Vermont Public Radio, trying to make sense of the Progressive agenda, and keeping tabs on how it may be changing the American political landscape. To that end, reading Bernie Sanders' "Outsider in the White House" has enormously helped me clarify the finer points of this growing movement of independent politics. Besides being treated to the fascinating story of Bernie's life in the political trenches of Vermont, the reader will learn what is legitimately democratic and popular about his brand. From being the Independent mayor of Burlington in the late 80s to being congressman throughout the nineties to being its junior senator in this century, Sanders has always put the economic and social needs of the 'little guy' first. His grassroots organization, he claims, works tirelessly to make sure the gap between the rich and poor starts to shrink. As the record seems to show, Bernie has gone to Washington to make a difference: lots of social legislation with his name - and like-minded colleagues - on it meant to return government to the people and include tax and healthcare reform. He believes that many of the issues plaguing America today, not least of all poverty and declining educational standards, could be easily addressed if the fat were trimmed from the federal budget. Where Sanders runs into difficulty in working out his grand vision might be the fact that he has literally declared war on Corporate America to the point of dismissing it as more of a hindrance than a help in restoring America's economic greatness. Cooperatives, public compacts, and local lobbies seem to be the route Sanders feels comfortable with in leading the people to a better world where they control their destiny. Like it or not, that dream will not materialize unless big money is allowed to participate in such initiatives as searching for alternative energy forms.

Alldaymall A88X 7'' Tablet - Google Android 4.4, Quad Core, HD 1024x600, Dual Camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 8GB, 3D Game Supported - Black
Alldaymall A88X 7'' Tablet - Google Android 4.4, Quad Core, HD 1024x600, Dual Camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 8GB, 3D Game Supported - Black
Offered by Alldaymall
Price: CDN$ 59.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Travel Companion, Jan. 25 2016
Without getting too technical, this device is easy to turn on, easy to use, easy to shut down, and provides the same functions as my Samsung Galaxy Tab3, albeit on a smaller scale. It is light and small enough to be carried in a handbag or large pocket and is great to use while travelling. A small drawback is that one has to go to the Internet to find out how to connect to Wi-Fi. The instruction leaflet could be more informative as to the various functions. Overall, not bad for price.

OmeGod New Looks Like SLR Lens 24-105mm Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Mug/ Cup with Leak-proof Lid & Holding Bag & OmeGod Wristband (12oz Lid, Black)
OmeGod New Looks Like SLR Lens 24-105mm Stainless Steel Travel Coffee Mug/ Cup with Leak-proof Lid & Holding Bag & OmeGod Wristband (12oz Lid, Black)
Offered by OmeGod
Price: CDN$ 21.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Competitive With A Trudeau Mug, Jan. 23 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been looking for a good travel mug since I lost my Trudeau some years back, and I think I may have found it with this one. Five features make it ideal for me: retains heat up to two hours; right size for a coffee - around 10 ounces; lid is tight but easy to remove; the grip is secure; and the price is affordable. If that isn't enough, its design makes for a good conversation piece.

Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King
Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King
by Mike Pitts
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.95
30 used & new from CDN$ 9.94

5.0 out of 5 stars A history that both confirms and rejects, Jan. 21 2016
Pitts has done one very fine job in putting the likes of me in touch with one of the more interesting archaeological digs in modern time. Finally locating and exhuming the remains of Richard lll, the so-called villainous hunchback of Shakespearean theatrical fame, makes for a very curious and suspenseful adventure in both time and place. It is over five hundred years since the last of the Plantagenants bit the dust at the Battle of Bodsworth in 1485, and only now have experts and buffs come together to finally put paid to the mystery of who really was this much maligned royal in history. This book will discuss some very fascinating secrets that emerge from this search that will put to rest much of the political bad press Richard received at the time of his death, due in large part to being vilified by the victorious Tudors. Having seen the CBC document on the actual recommitment ceremony at Leicester Cathedral, I had to get the full goods, and Pitt's book does it. Certainly a lot better having the truth than relying on the Holinshed Chronicles like the Great Bard had to. It is truly amazing what forensics can tell you about a human skeleton that far back.

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir
The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir
by Riad Sattouf
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.09
37 used & new from CDN$ 23.31

5.0 out of 5 stars It takes the politically incorrect to expose the wrong, Jan. 21 2016
I like political satire that tells it as it is through the eyes of a highly intelligent child. This graphic memoir takes the unusual circumstances of a young boy of mixed ethnicity - Syrian father and French mother - growing up in the modern Arab world and makes it into a very clever political parody. While the artwork tells both an engaging and funny story of how this blond-haired boy and his 'mismatched' parents make their way through the chaotic political and social maze of Arab culture in the Middle East, there is something else at work here. It is a land that swallows up dreams because it doesn't know how to overcome its prejudices and superstitions. As Sattouf and his family move back and forth between France, Libya and Syria in search of a place to call home, they encounter poverty, ignorance, tyranny, and open hostility, it looks funny to us that people would still want to pin their fortunes on the empty promises of dictators like Assad or Gaddafi but that is what the old life is all about: enduring the bullying of the tribal chief to get ahead. The problem with this ethos is that you become a bully yourself, which is what happens to a highly educated parent who goes from being an independent thinker to a political sycophant.

Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History
Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History
by Andrew Cohen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.49
31 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Thesis Based on Some Intriguing Times and Big Ideas, Jan. 20 2016
Until now, I have struggled to make sense of the all-too-brief Kennedy administration of the early sixties. Cohen does a credible job in getting me focused in divining where President Kennedy was possibly heading in setting his legacy. As one who constantly saw himself as a fearless man of destiny, Kennedy made two key policy speeches, just months before his assassination, that indicated a new direction for America at home and abroad. One dealt with getting the Soviets to accept nuclear disarmament; the other, civil rights and relations with the blacks. This book provides some helpful insights as to how and why Kennedy arrived at this defining moment in his presidency: he is shown as a man who understood his mortality all too well to the point of wanting to transition from being an ordinary leader to an epic, take-charge one. Just in case we think that Kennedy was a one-man operator, Cohen introduces the supporting cast of McNamara, RFK, Dillon, Sorenson, Salinger and Drew, who engineered the change from being jeuness doree in 1961 to being serious and focused in 1963. While Cohen builds a strong case for the greening of this president, he still hasn't convinced me that the remaking of Kennedy as a man of peace in 1963 would have translated into something absolutely transformative if he had lived. We have a tendency to put too much faith in the power of presidential virtue and visions, as encapsulated in speeches, to change the direction of a country as complex as the United States by hitting for the fences. On both fronts, Kennedy's addresses sounded a new direction for the free world but, who is to say that he, who lacked serious congressional support, would have been able to make the dream of peace at home and abroad a reality.

What a Wonderful World
What a Wonderful World
by Marcus Chown
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.00
18 used & new from CDN$ 16.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Readable and Practical Guide to the Universe, Jan. 18 2016
This review is from: What a Wonderful World (Paperback)
Here is a very intelligently written book about the big questions many of us have about the world of science but have yet to receive satisfactory answers. Chown, well qualified as a scientist in his own right, covers a wide range of subjects that deal with natural and man-made phenomena such as the many uses for DNA, how our sex drive works, what is quantum theory, how do electrons work, the presence of thermodynamics, the function of money, the wonders of gravity, and the functionality of computers, to name just a few. Everything here addresses, in layman's terms, how science - the study of knowing - impacts our daily lives. Reading this book reminds me, once again, how profoundly made is the universe we live in. We live in a brilliantly interconnected system called life that is subject to the laws of nature, human ingenuity and individual inquiry.

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