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Reviews Written by
Rodge (Ontario, Canada)
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Life and Fate
Life and Fate
by Vasily Grossman
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 8.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb realistic novel that triumphs over its stylistic flaws, Feb. 23 2015
This review is from: Life and Fate (Paperback)
This novel's greatness consists not so much in its fine writing, which in translation comes across as occasionally clunky and certainly not incredibly refined. The portrait this novel gives us of life in Stalinist USSR is so tone-perfect though, that any other weaknesses fall by the wayside. Here we have the small triumphs, the moral compromises with the oppressor, the fear of the informer and the absurdities of who rises and falls in a system that ruthlessly eliminates some while exalting others, at least for a time. In the meantime, the very present crisis of the battle of Stalingrad looms in the background, showing the absurdities of the Soviet nightmare in stark relief. The Soviets invent their heroes and villains, but the real miracle is that some people still preserve some humanity, some kindness in the midst of it all, even though it hardly seems worthwhile

Flash Boys
Flash Boys
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
49 used & new from CDN$ 8.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Let the investor beware, Feb. 17 2015
This review is from: Flash Boys (Hardcover)
This is a truly eye-opening book that should cure investors of any naivete they still have left. Think that the markets are fare, and you won't get ripped off? Think again. Wall Street is full of people who will take advantage of any information gaps or technology disadvantage to screw you over. This book primarily focuses on high frequency trading and a brave group that tries to change the market to bring it to an end. But there will be more loopholes tomorrow - let the investor beware.

As usual, Lewis writes in a fast-paced entertaining style, bringing to dramatic life an area which may superficially seem short of drama or excitement

The Given Day
The Given Day
by Dennis Lehane
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
44 used & new from CDN$ 6.59

3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining if overlong novel, Feb. 13 2015
This review is from: The Given Day (Paperback)
This is an entertaining bloated read that should serve anybody well who likes fat entertaining books. But I don't think it is more than that. Lehane definitely does enough with his main characters to keep them engaging, however the villains are a little too easy to hate. Our hero Danny is a little too modern and open-minded for an Irish Catholic from 1919, etc. A nice breezy historical thriller/romance that ought to keep you busy for a while - depending how fast you read.

Ring Of Steel: Germany And Austria-hungary At War; 1914-1918
Ring Of Steel: Germany And Austria-hungary At War; 1914-1918
by Alexander Watson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.35
14 used & new from CDN$ 31.35

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent history of WWI from the Central Powers' perspective, Feb. 13 2015
Alexander Watson provides us with a useful perspective - the perspective of World War I's losers. It is empathetic perhaps without being sympathetic . . . Watson ultimately holds Germany & Austria-Hungary responsible for their own misery. Nonetheless, looking at the war from their side breaks some of the myths that might be convenient to hold when viewing the war from the side of the Allies.

This is a very useful book, and well-written. We can see how the two nations developed throughout the war, to the point where the regimes from the beginning of the war lost all legitimacy and were overthrown. The aftermath of the war too, contained the seeds of the second great conflict. Watson is very right when he notes that there was no "peace" for Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1918. The conflict continued, off and on, until World War II - it was not inevitable, but the demons of the first conflict continued to fester in the interwar years.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.89
34 used & new from CDN$ 15.54

4.0 out of 5 stars It all comes down to discipline, Feb. 10 2015
This book is a call to arms, an inspiration to discipline in trimming the non-essentials from life. We all know, somewhere in our minds, that we can't do it all, but the day-to-day grind has tricked us into trying anyway. McKeown urges us to think about what we're doing and become more committed to the essential, while letting the other energy-draining things of life drift away. This book is not so much providing us new information, as urging us to use our heads and develop the discipline to pursue less. Less is more, essentially, in a very engaging package

Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times
Nation Maker: Sir John A. Macdonald: His Life, Our Times
by Richard J. Gwyn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.20
26 used & new from CDN$ 23.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Macdonald volume 2: the years of power, Feb. 2 2015
This second volume of Macdonald's biography is every bit as worthwhile as the first, maybe more so. The second volume starts in 1867 immediately following Confederation, so in focus are the years Macdonald spent as prime minister. Gwyn builds a pretty convincing case for the importance and the overall success of those years, particularly in giving Canada a chance to become a nation. There were certainly failures as well - activist British judges set in motion a process of decentralization of power, and Macdonald was overmatched by the challenges of western natives - he did not always try to understand them as well as he should have. Nonetheless this biography certainly fills the hole in terms of recent biographies of Macdonald. Hopefully we don't need to wait another 50 years for the next one.

The Gospel And The Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life
The Gospel And The Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life
by Bradley G. Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.50
10 used & new from CDN$ 11.36

4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on the gospel-centered mind, Jan. 27 2015
This is a good book on the gospel and the mind. It's weakness is perhaps that it only gives us a guided tour of the thoughts of others, rather than providing strong insights from the author himself. The latter chapters of the book are also superior to the first - as Green discusses language and the moral nature of knowledge.

The Cross Of Christ
The Cross Of Christ
by John Stott
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 3.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, Jan. 27 2015
This review is from: The Cross Of Christ (Hardcover)
This is a magisterial work - it doesn't talk down to the reader - but it manages to stay accessible at the same time. Perhaps a challenging read, but one that remains accessible to the reader ready to stay the course. Each chapter is quite relevant to the modern Christian as well. John Stott ably guides us through Biblical interpretation, including varying views on the subjects he addresses. Far from just a "get saved" tract, this book shows us how profoundly Jesus' death provides the center for understanding Christian life. This book will likely remain a classic, certainly an evangelical classic, for some time. Perhaps you should read his "Basic Christianity" first; this book will take you further up and farther in.

Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
48 used & new from CDN$ 7.93

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun exposure of humanity's "predictably irrational" ways, Jan. 26 2015
This entertaining book essentially shows us the many ways that humans do not behave as economists would predict we do. We are not rational but irrational - furthermore we are irrational in predictable ways. Ariely shows us through a series of chapters which essentially distill the results of his and other experiments how this is so. It is not always clear how this is to be made use of, and some of the experiments seem to be little beyond mind games, despite Ariely's scientific protestations.

Shallows,The: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
Shallows,The: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
by Nicholas Carr
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
48 used & new from CDN$ 7.86

5.0 out of 5 stars An eloquent appeal to row against the Internet's tide, Jan. 26 2015
This book seems likely to be a cranky rant, but Carr raises the bar way higher than that. Rather than resorting to being a Luddite, he chronicles how science shows seemingly incontrovertibly that using the internet changes the way our brains work - indeed that is true of all technology. The process is "neutral" - that is we lose something and we gain something and we should not confuse change with progress. In the end, what we are losing is precious and it is worth rowing against the tide, as Carr so eloquently shows us.

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