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Profile for Gordon Ritchie > Reviews

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Content by Gordon Ritchie
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Reviews Written by
Gordon Ritchie "Woodpusher" (Ottawa, Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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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
Price: CDN$ 32.03
41 used & new from CDN$ 17.52

5.0 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.

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

0 of 1 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.

Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981-1989
Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981-1989
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Short Biography, Feb. 22 2016
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Very good short biography of a transformational president. Covers a great deal in a few, well chosen words.

Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped
Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: CDN$ 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Political Polemic, Feb. 4 2016
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Garry Kasparov was, and still is, a great chessplayer. In fact, he may have been the strongest player of all time. As a politician, however, or political polemicist, not so great. His style is strident, replete with insults and aspersions, light on substantive facts. Disappointing as his target, Vladimir Putin and his regime, is easy pickings.

The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Updated Edition)
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (Updated Edition)
Price: CDN$ 12.60

5.0 out of 5 stars The Machine Behind The Curtain, Jan. 9 2016
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In this tour de force, one of the savviest commentators on current world affairs lays out his conceptual model for understanding how great powers interact in an anarchic world. Offensive realism postulates that great powers must seek to expand their power with the goal of regional hegemony. In modern times there has only been one true regional hegemon---the United States---although others have tried including Napoleon's France, the Germanies of the Kaiser and Hitler and the Soviet Union. China has the potential to achieve such a status and the author lays out, in a new and fascinating chapter, why the United States will attempt to thwart this ambition. Grim but insightful reading for anyone seeking to see behind the curtain.

The Wars of Napoleon
The Wars of Napoleon
by Thomas E. Griess
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 29.66
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.53

4.0 out of 5 stars Penetrating the Fog of Battle, Nov. 25 2015
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This review is from: The Wars of Napoleon (Paperback)
An excellent compendium of the battles fought by the great French general and emperor. It is a lot to ask to see through the fog of war, which was especially dense in Napoleon's time as huge armies fought over difficult terrain, obscured by cannon smoke and lacking anything resembling real time communications. This work does, however, go a long way to bringing out the key elements of individual battles and longer campaigns. Unfortunately, it was designed to be read with an accompanying Atlas which I found to be a shoddy product of little use. Even without this intended supporting material, however, The Wars of Napoleon is a valuable addition to the library of those interested in military history around the turn of the nineteenth century.

West Point Atlas for the Wars of Napoleon
West Point Atlas for the Wars of Napoleon
by Thomas E. Griess
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: CDN$ 30.40
18 used & new from CDN$ 17.71

2.0 out of 5 stars A Shoddy Production, Nov. 25 2015
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The first warning came as I took the book out of the package and read the spine: "West Point Atlas for the Wars of Napolean"---leading one to wonder about the quality of their proofreading. It is intended as a companion to The Wars of Napoleon which is a very thorough account of the military exploits and misadventures of the man many consider the greatest military strategist of all time. The maps could have been an invaluable aid to understanding the flow of these battles but are unfortunately marred by poor quality printing and unclear designs. A great pity to see such a shoddy product emerge under the brand of West Point.

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