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Reviews Written by
Gordon Ritchie "Woodpusher" (Ottawa, Canada)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway
Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Hedgehog, June 3 2016
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An excellent review of the research showing the difficulty in predicting the future. The more confident the prediction and the more lionized the predictor, the less likely to be accurate.

The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change
The Trouble with Islam Today: A Wake-up Call for Honesty and Change
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Agent Provocateur, May 31 2016
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Highly provocative debunking of modern Islam by a Moslem who does not mindlessly accept the conventional teachings. This should, however, be read in conjunction with other works exposing the more established perspective found especially in the Arab world.

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
by Ron Chernow
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.10
41 used & new from CDN$ 17.10

5.0 out of 5 stars A Transformational Leader, May 31 2016
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This review is from: Alexander Hamilton (Paperback)
This is surely the definitive portrait of the man who was probably the most transformational leader never to serve as president. At 750 pages, it is not an easy read---for that one should perhaps go to the current Broadway play of the same name. But it is, like Chernow's other biographies, beautifully written. In a fundamental sense, Hamilton is the original author, through his role in the Constitution and above all his authorship of the magisterial Federalist Papers, of one of the two main competing views of the constitution of the United States. The other is the Jeffersonian devotion to states' rights (a thinly disguised play to retain slavery) and democracy at all costs, even to support of the bloody work of the French Revolution, all set in the context of a predominantly agrarian society. Hamilton, on the other hand, strongly opposed slavery and proposed and helped to create a strong Federal Government. His contribution was truly immense.
Chernow also exposes the poisonous politics of the era, with Jefferson (through surrogates) and Hamilton (with his own prodigious pen) launching broadsides at one another, even as they served together in George Washington's Cabinet (where Hamilton clearly was the more valued and influential minister). It is a reminder that "negative campaigning" is no recent invention.
An essential read for anyone seeking to understand the workings of the United States even to this day.

Mad Ducks and Bears: Football Revisited
Mad Ducks and Bears: Football Revisited
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, May 31 2016
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Hilarious account of the world view of two crazy football stars written by the inimitable Plimpton. Great fun. The account of their fundraiser is one of a kind.

The Illegal
The Illegal
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Marathon Read, May 4 2016
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This review is from: The Illegal (Kindle Edition)
After his triumph with The Book of Negroes, Hill has produced a fast paced but shallow thriller centring on the interaction between two countries, one the source and the other the destination for black refugees. His characters are, unfortunately, caricatures. He (over)uses the theme of marathon running to tie the slim plot together. I found it somewhat disappointing that it lacked the depth of The Book but perhaps that was too much to ask. I enjoyed racing through it (on my kindle) all the same. A fun read.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Family Feuds, April 12 2016
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Andrew Jackson was one of the truly transformational presidents of the United States (up there with Washington, Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan). His life and times have been amply documented. Schlesinger's version should be required reading for any student of American history.
This is a somewhat unusual biography. It does not attempt to replicate or surpass these earlier efforts but, instead, draws on masses of new material to paint a more intimate picture of Old Hickory and his entourage. His was a highly personalized presidency and the machinations of his extended official family were extraordinary. The most dramatic centred on the controversial Margaret Eaton, married (her second of three) to Jackson's secretary of war. Jackson would not tolerate criticism of the lady, even (or especially) from his closest confidants and advisors. At one point, the feuding led to the dismissal of the entire Cabinet.
In focusing on the social drama around Jackson, the book gives relatively short shrift to Jackson's greatest and most controversial achievements---toppling Biddle and the Bank, suppressing, for the moment, the "nullificationists", etc. It makes for good reading and adds a dimension to the portrait but would not well serve as a stand alone reference to one of the great lives in American presidential history.

Techniques of Positional Play: 45 Practical Methods to Gain the Upper Hand in Chess
Techniques of Positional Play: 45 Practical Methods to Gain the Upper Hand in Chess
by Valeri Bronznik
Edition: Paperback
47 used & new from CDN$ 25.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Overview, March 30 2016
In 45 succinct reviews of practical techniques of positional play, the authors do an outstanding job of illuminating the possible approaches that should be part of the arsenal of every competitive chess player. Some of the techniques are commonplace; others not so well known or understood. I found the illustrative games instructive although it was not always clear what role the chosen technique played in the result. After poring over it, playing through most of the examples, I then turned to the exercises and found them extremely difficult. Most useful for an expert level or above.

Port: Beginners Guide to Wine (101 Publishing: Wine Series)
Port: Beginners Guide to Wine (101 Publishing: Wine Series)
Price: CDN$ 2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good job of the basics, March 29 2016
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This ebook does a very serviceable job of introducing port. It explains the various classes, from fine vintage to aperitif whites. Very helpful.

Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond
Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 20.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Conservative Dilemma, March 25 2016
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Dionne is a columnist with The Washington Post and a frequent commentator on MSNBC and on PBS Newshour. He has written a very strange book or, more accurately, two books back-to-back. The first half is virtually unreadable. It is a sort of stream of consciousness commentary on recent American political history with a clear progressive bias. It could have done with a stringent editor. The narrative weaves back and forth and sometimes loses the thread altogether. A waste of time.
Those who manage to plough through this verbiage will in the second half be rewarded by a wide-ranging and not unsympathetic analysis of where the Republican Party has gone astray. He views with some nostalgia the balanced conservatism (the key term being "balanced") of Dwight Eisenhower as a benchmark against which to measure the strident neoconservative of the 21st century. Despite the attempts by some "reformicons" to move the party back to a more centrist approach, the party of Ted Cruz has in his well documented analysis become structurally uncompetitive in the national presidential elections while scoring dramatic gains in the lesser contests at state level and in the heavily gerrymandered Congress. The next few months may test his optimism that the demographic trends clearly favour the progressives (i.e. Democrats) in presidential elections. Indeed, the contest may well be high-jacked by the remarkable Trump phenomenon which may transform the GOP in ways that conservatives had not foreseen and will not welcome.
This "second book" goes some way to redeeming this work as a useful reference for the current, possibly existential, struggle for the intellectual leadership of one of America's great institutions, the Republican party.

Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots)
Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots)
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Reassessing the Conservative Movement from within, March 25 2016
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A compelling retrospective by a committed conservative. I found this to be a fascinating read. Recommended.

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