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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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The Auschwitz Escape
The Auschwitz Escape
Price: CDN$ 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting storyline but hardly realistic, March 4 2015
I initially picked up this book with some reservations about its ability to authentically represent the horrors of the Holocaust. While my view on that hasn't changed, I did come away with a modicum of respect for Rosenberg's ability to compose a compelling story about life inside this hellhole and the attempts to break out. In fact, history shows that there were very few successful escapes from this most infamous of concentration camps, but don't let that get in the way of enjoying a harrowing tale full of suspense, intrigue and triumph, with Jews and Christians coming together to deliver the oppressed. Just keep in mind that reality quite often does not offer a way of escape in the darkest moments of time. There aren't enough hiccups in this novel to really challenge the human will to survive in the midst of absolute terror and misery. If truth be known, this book really is an example of popular Christian escapist literature where good ultimately prevails over evil in this world.

Waterproof LED Flashlight , Cree XM-L T6 Beam , 1800 Lumens , 3 Modes , Adjustable Thick Head Strap , Outdoor Rechargeable Headlamp Headlight , Head Light Lamp Torch for Camping Hiking Fishing BBQ Repairing Night Walking Morning Running
Waterproof LED Flashlight , Cree XM-L T6 Beam , 1800 Lumens , 3 Modes , Adjustable Thick Head Strap , Outdoor Rechargeable Headlamp Headlight , Head Light Lamp Torch for Camping Hiking Fishing BBQ Repairing Night Walking Morning Running

5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this product to those who are out at night, March 3 2015
The power of any personal headlamp is usually found in its ability to clearly illuminate what is in front of the wearer. This product does this and more in spades. I have worn it for two weeks and find it very comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. For someone who walks and rides his bike around a big city at night, this is a very helpful device: battery is chargeable, three settings and full illumination for considerable distance. It didn't come with instructions but it didn't take long to figure out. Compared to other similar products in the market, this appears to be reasonably priced.

Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada
Who We Are: Reflections on My Life and Canada
by Elizabeth May
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
25 used & new from CDN$ 18.77

4.0 out of 5 stars It is time to move, March 2 2015
For all those who subscribe to May's views on the environment, this is indeed a very welcome book that affirms everthing she has stood for over the years. For those still sitting on the fence, at least they now know that she is a fearless warrior who won't yield her interest in her efforts to safeguard the environment. She has paid her dues as a wool-and-dyed activist who speaks with a clear vision for clearing up the environment on a number of national fronts. Her arguments are all clearly laid out here: moving away from fossil fuels; increasing government commitment to fighting global warming; and restoring the democratic integrity of parliamentary institutions. May definitely believes that historical momentum is on the side of the environmental movement, given the heightened interest being generated by the ongoing pipeline debate. However, she candidly admits that the transition to the new economy, while having to be made, will not be easy. National politics is her latest arena in which to fght for a cause that is both compelling and complex. May does not effectively address how Canadians are going to have to adjust to the new economic reality that she admits could be part of her vision. Her only response to this concern is to blame the Harper government for dragging its feet in getting on track with this transforming plan. As far as she is cocerned, all the pieces of the puzzle are there - indisputable research, technology, popular support and history - so why not make the move and stand up to special interests.

Alan Turing: The Enigma
Alan Turing: The Enigma
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Vindication of a Very Misunderstood Life, Feb. 26 2015
High praise goes to Hodges for writing both a very informative and deeply sensitive book about a greatly misunderstood and much maligned modern genius who chose to remain true to his private life even though it greatly conflicted with his public service as an important scientist during the Second World War. What brings this biography alive for me is Hodges careful attention to detailing those two parts of his life as they conflicted many times from boyhood to manhood. Turing grew up starved for parental affection and forced from early times to develop his own sense of self-preservation through pursuing a unique interest in the natural forces around him. He did nerdy things 'ordinary' children were forbidden to do: chemical experiments, collecting specimens, going for long hikes by himself, and dabbling in codes. A mad scientist in the making one might say. Public schooling was always a challenge for Turing because of his unwillingness to always conform to rules of the adult world and the sanctioned bully. When he did, such as the time when the Shelbourne Boy's School made him a prefect, it was a painful experience. Though he was able to excel in the sciences and gain admission to Cambridge, there was still a part of his identity that was still largely suppressed. Turing knew he was gay but was afraid to declare it for fear of being openly persecuted. Hodges does a wonderful job in describing the tension that was at work in young Turing's life: nobody to turn to and a sense an eminent danger if discovered. As he worked his way up the academic ladder as a theoretical mathematician with a practical bent in the 1930s, Turing became that private individual who devoted himself fully to leading the MI5 efforts to crack the Enigma code with the use of his Turing decoding machine. It was this part of the story that I found most engaging. Turing not only had the big idea by which to finally figure out German codes but the machine that could do it in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, his decision to sacrifice his career for his country to help win the war was not reciprocated. Once the Bletchley people caught onto Turing's brilliant concept and design, he became largely forgotten in the rush to defeat Nazi Germany. Heroes were not made behind the lines. In fact, as his homosexuality eventually came to light in the postwar era, Turing was further stigmatized as a moral degenerate and a public figure with communist sympathies. Hodges concludes his study with an interesting take on the possible reasons for Turing's likely suicide. As someone who has recently been introduced to the controversial and troubled life of Turing, I have no difficulty, after reading Hodges' account, regarding it as significant and worthy of national honor, even with all its many enigmas.

Comeback,The: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power And Influence
Comeback,The: How Aboriginals Are Reclaiming Power And Influence
by John Ralston Saul
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.56
5 used & new from CDN$ 17.56

3.0 out of 5 stars A Simplification of Current Realities, Feb. 22 2015
In one fell swoop John Ralston Saul attempts to put Canadians right on a number of things related to aboriginal affairs in Canada. In short, his thesis, in this free-ranging book, amounts to an idealistic and somewhat vague road map for settling up with First Nations people in an effort to having them become equal and freed-up partners in Canadian society, whatever that means. The time is now to get results because the social and political tide is turning. Besides the spike in population for status and non-status alike, this new generation of aboriginal peoples has become better informed as to their options, protest being only one of the many. The critical mass has been reached with movements like Idle No More taking to the street to protest government inaction. Tactics like divide and conquer will no longer work because the world out there knows the terrible living conditions of the average member of a reserve in this country. According to him, every part of the white man's system for dealing with the problem of aboriginal title to land and resources has been an abysmal failure. An extensive federal bureaucracy has been created over the years to keep these people in check. The solutions advocated here are both radical and simplistic because they ignore present realities: a badly divided First Nation leadership; financial mismanagement within the band system; and the historical complexity of the situation. Yes, change is in the air and there is hope that aboriginal people will, eventually, be able to chart their destinies anew. While momentum and vision are essential - there is plenty of that in this study - the absence of an overall plan makes any chance of success limited. I would have liked to have seen more examples in the book that show-cased native groups that are patiently going beyond the standard means of protest to achieve a voice of economic success and social stability. The communitarian values that Saul wants to see adopted towards fighting racism and colonialism pose more questions than provide answers.

The Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke : 1552-1634
The Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke : 1552-1634
by Catherine Drinker Bowen
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 41.88

5.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Man on a National Mission, Feb. 19 2015
Given that this the eight hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, I can think of no better book on the subject than Bowen's very colorful history of one of its staunchest champions. Besides laying out the life of Sir Edward Coke in all its fascinating detail, as he became the seminal defender of common-law tradition in Tudor and Stuart times, this study attempts to look at how the Greater Charter came to reassert itself in English politics. As Bowen so capably shows, Coke (pronounced Cook by some) was not only the legal architect that helped frame the stable state during Elizabethan times but was also the force that assured its very survival during the tumultuous times of James I and his son Charles. As judge, MP, barrister, and attorney-general, Coke had in his hand the crafting the law, executing it, and ultimately defending it. To that end, he experienced much approbation and censure. Though he was considerably influential in rallying public support for the rights of the common man against tyrannical kings, he was not above benefiting from rank and title. Overarching his lengthy career in public service is the term 'political astuteness' which allowed him to avoid being found on the wrong side of numerous royal scandals. The two chapters that caught my attention dealt with his separate roles that he played in the prosecuting of the Gunpowder Plot and the drawing up of the Petition of Rights. Both occasions show that Coke was a jurist and politician who understood the importance of respect for the law by all and sundry as being the cornerstone on which society survives. Remove that and civil disorder and chaos ensues.

Honeywell HUL535BC Ultrasonic 1-Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier
Honeywell HUL535BC Ultrasonic 1-Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier
Price: CDN$ 49.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 44.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-handle device, Feb. 15 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Definitely makes our sleep more comfortable. Eliminates the stuffiness in the room. Easy to move around. Noise level very tolerable, and instructions for operation and maintenance easy to follow. Will upgrade this rating in the next week or so if the performance remains unchanged.

Smart Weigh Contemporary Series Digital Vanity / Bathroom Scale with an Extra Large 4.3" Backlighted LCD Screen (White)
Smart Weigh Contemporary Series Digital Vanity / Bathroom Scale with an Extra Large 4.3" Backlighted LCD Screen (White)
Offered by CrestView
Price: CDN$ 34.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to the bathroom, Feb. 15 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For people who are very weight conscious, we are absolutely delighted with the accuracy, appearance, price and simplicity of this scale. Instructions are easy to follow. No special calibrating steps required; just step on and get a quick and visible reading to one decimal place. The tracking and delivery of this product were amazing.

Magna Carta
Magna Carta
by Ralph Turner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 73.20
12 used & new from CDN$ 45.80

5.0 out of 5 stars A very Thorough and Objective Assessment of a Misunderstood Document, Feb. 13 2015
This review is from: Magna Carta (Hardcover)
We are celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the historically significant Magna Carta at Runnymede in June 1215. This study, by one of America's leading authorities on Medieval history, challenges its readers to view the creation of this eponymous document as something more than what took place between 'Bad' King John and the hard-pressed barons of the realm. The real essence of the Great Charter can be found in the various stories that have emerged from its inception and passed down to us as validation of our present existence. Yes, there is enough substance in this document and its subsequent forms to justify natural rights, the rule of law, habeas corpus, the balance of power, the right to rebel, the right to be consulted, and freedom from tyranny. Turner takes us through the years following 1215 to show how the Magna Carta helped shape the political conscience of nations through the passing of statutory law, the issuing of petitions, and the declaration of independence. In the end, it is not what this charter of political demands originally stood for that matters, but what it became to those who wanted to press their claim for greater liberty and democratic inclusion. This point is well made by the fact that very little of this charter remains as actual law today except for veiled references to the rule of law and the judicial rights of the individual. In England, parliament and the monarchy are essentially one in their defense of the realm, its people, and its unwritten constitution as bound up in Common Law. Go to Runnymede today, on your way out to Windsor Castle, and you will find three American monuments as mute testimonies to how grateful some Americans feel about what the Charter has done for them in building a new nation.

Lila
Lila
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
2 used & new from CDN$ 18.80

5.0 out of 5 stars He Maketh Wise the Simple, Feb. 12 2015
This review is from: Lila (Hardcover)
Truly a wonderful novel to read that carries on in the great literary tradition established in her other writings. Her secret, as a great novelist, is her profound ability to take the simple things in life and plumb them for all their significant spiritual wealth. In this work, Robinson takes the person of Lila, a much maligned and hapless young changeling, and turns her into a mighty woman of character that rivals Ruth of the Old Testament, mighty in deed and virtue. What brings about this amazing transformation of grace and fortune is a recognition on Lila's part that her life, as she finds herself in Gilead, a mid-western, old world Christian colony, is truly beyond her control. She has no roots; nobody to call a friend, and no future. In fact, her life is so blighted that one wonders what it will take to redeem this young girl. True to form, Robinson creates a a compelling story that take Lila from a time of great anguish and self-doubt to one of wonderful freedom to serve the needs of others. This deliverance from her evil past will not come easy. She will have to deal with the demons of her past: neglect, abuse, fear, distrust and poverty. In this little community, struggling with its own uncertainties, Lila's arrival will become that beautiful opportunity for God to make His Presence felt in special ways through the unique changes wrought in this woman's extraordinary life. Where hatred and strife once existed, love will now flourish, and Lila, with her simple faith in God and trust in others, becomes its timely instrument. As usual, Robinson is a very crafted writer who shows incredible conviction and passion in characters and plot when it comes to capturing the moment. I wouldn't be surprised if she will eventually win a Nobel for her efforts.

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