Book Review

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Olivia Chow’s memoirs insufficiently revealing

Olivia Chow’s memoirs insufficiently revealing

Olivia Chow Even by the low standards of political memoirs – especially ones released prior to a new electoral campaign – Olivia Chow’s My Journey (Harper Collins, $29.99, 328 pages), published in the lead-up to the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, is incredibly unsatisfying. Like all such memoirs, it puffs up the author (overcoming abusive relationships and adapting to a new country as an immigrant) and highlights key political causes ... (Continue reading)

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Economics and relationships

Economics and relationships

The Love Market: What You Need To Know About How We Date, Mate and Marry by Marina Adshade (Harper Collins, $18.99, 272 pages)  The paperback edition of Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love by Marina Adshade, a UBC economics professor, comes with a new title but it’s still the same book providing the same insights and the same shortcomings. Overall I recommend the book, including to social ... (Continue reading)

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Not enough Roy McMurtry on Roy McMurtry

Not enough Roy McMurtry on Roy McMurtry

Memoirs and Reflections by Roy McMurtry (University of Toronto Press, $45, 562 pages) Late last year Roy McMurtry released his autobiography, Memoirs and Reflections, giving his account of a long and, some would say, distinguished career in public service. McMurtry has played a role in numerous political and legal dramas in this country since the 1960s, taking on bit parts in the leadership races of the federal and provincial Progressive ... (Continue reading)

What the Baby Boomers wrought

What the Baby Boomers wrought

The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way And It Wasn’t My Fault And I’ll Never Do It Again by P.J. O’Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, $31.50, 263 pages) My first argument with any book about the Baby Boomers is with anyone who tries to include me in it, and that would seem to include P. J. O’Rourke. His latest book is about his generation – that cohort born between then ... (Continue reading)

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How Roe was decided

How Roe was decided

Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade by Clarke D. Forsythe (Encounter, $31, 477 pages) In Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade, Clarke D. Forsythe has written an insightful and original book on the infamous 1973 decision that legalized abortion in all nine months throughout the United States, and the lesser known companion decision Doe v. Bolton, which permitted abortion restrictions as long ... (Continue reading)

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Been there, done that: never-ending doomsday predictions about overpopulation

Been there, done that: never-ending doomsday predictions about overpopulation

There is no shortage of doom and gloom books that look at world demographic trends, but what is surprising is how many get the story wrong. While many countries are trying to figure out how to restore fiscal sanity following out-of-whack budgets that fund a welfare state predicated on population growth and having a critical mass of workers to pay for dependents (especially seniors), most books on population insist ... (Continue reading)

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The illusion of glamour

The illusion of glamour

Glamour is a misunderstood word, whose meaning – like similar superlatives such as elite, exclusive, luxury and unique – has been adulterated and weakened, mostly thanks to its overuse by marketers and the media. But unlike those other words, so beloved of lifestyle journalists, realtors and advertising copywriters, glamour is a word that can be evocative and even profound, as writer Virginia Postrel explains in her new book The ... (Continue reading)

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Three recent books on Canadian politics explore theme of compromise

Three recent books on Canadian politics explore theme of compromise

Three recent books about Canadian politics go a long way to explain why our politics is the way it is as they highlight the role of marketing and messaging in campaigns and governing. They raise important issues about authenticity and principles in Canadian politics, providing sometimes contradictory lessons. Michael Ignatieff’s political memoir Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (Random House, $29.95, 207 pages) is on many levels disappointing, ... (Continue reading)

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Moral issues and The Future of Catholicism

Moral issues and The Future of Catholicism

In my new book The Future of Catholicism (Signal Books/Random House) I devote the longest chapter to the issue of same-sex marriage, and other chapters to abortion, euthanasia, and contraception. But, some critics have argued, why spend so much time on these issues when the book is about the future of the Catholic Church? Simple. Because this is precisely the future of the Church. I discuss at some length ... (Continue reading)

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Faith, family, and facial hair

Faith, family, and facial hair

How Duck Dynasty became a television and cultural sensation After years of celebrating little-watched cable television shows like The Sopranos (about the mafia and laced with profanity) and Breaking Bad (about a drug dealer and laced with profanity), the North American entertainment media took notice of the ratings success of Duck Dynasty, which attracts millions more viewers. In the February 2013 season three premier, it attracted 8.6 million viewers, the most watched show in A&E history. The ... (Continue reading)

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The cause of growing secularism? The decline of the family

The cause of growing secularism? The decline of the family

How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization by Mary Eberstadt (Templeton Press, $26.50, 268 pages) I’ve almost been trained to smile on cue when I read Mary Eberstadt’s name in the media, even though How the West Really Lost God was only the second of her works I’d read in its entirety (an early draft of The Loser Letters at National Review Online being the first). ... (Continue reading)

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Men on Strike

Men on Strike

The worst part of being a TV critic, I used to joke to my friends, was having to watch television. Like most jokes, it was mostly a statement of fact. The worst thing about watching TV in the last decade or so was a ubiquity of a lazy trope, played for laughs, that cast men as the village idiot of the family. It reached its apogee with shows like Everybody ... (Continue reading)

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Forgotten conservatives

Forgotten conservatives

Roger Kimball is a well-read man. Reading through his latest book, The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press, $36, 356 pages), I couldn’t help but envy whatever combination of discipline, habit, choice of profession and luck has let him trawl through the remainder tables of ideas and come up with a collection of essays that, in the most erudite of ways, ... (Continue reading)

Author identifies causes, problems of lower fertility rates

Author identifies causes, problems of lower fertility rates

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster by Jonathan V. Last (Encounter, $28, 230 pages) In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich published an influential book, The Population Bomb. The manuscript was originally entitled, “Population, Resources, and Environment,” and Erhlich warned of impending doom if global population growth was not significantly curtailed. Erhlich predicted environmental catastrophe, famine, and even war if the world’s population was allowed to grow. ... (Continue reading)

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Correcting Pierre Trudeau myths. Partly.

Correcting Pierre Trudeau myths. Partly.

The Truth about Trudeau by Bob Plamondon (Great River Media, $34.95, 397 pages) Political commentator Bob Plamondon, author of two books on the Conservative Party of Canada, has turned his attention to a much-needed topic, debunking the myths surrounding Pierre Trudeau. In The Truth about Trudeau, he usefully goes through Trudeau’s record from foreign policy to social policy, from his handling of the economy to his fiddling with the constitution, ... (Continue reading)

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