Book Review

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Being Mortal is mostly good, except for egregious euthanasia error

Being Mortal is mostly good, except for egregious euthanasia error

Dr. Atul Gawande is a renowned surgeon, public-health researcher and medical professor at Harvard. His latest book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, contains many valuable suggestions for improving the care and treatment of terminally ill patients nearing the end of life. To begin with, Gawande notes that as recently as 1945, most deaths in the United States, Canada, and other industrialized countries occurred at home. Today, most ... (Continue reading)

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Elite ideology as class warfare

Elite ideology as class warfare

I blame Karl Marx for a lot of things, but after inspiring some of the most destructive and blood-thirsty governments in modern history, his most abidingly destructive legacy is hobbling our understanding of the word “class.” For as long as I’ve been alive, when almost anyone talks about the class system they end up invoking images frozen somewhere in the middle of the European 19th century. Arrogant entitled aristocrats and heartless mill owners; upright bourgeois, dispirited workers and peasants. It’s a ... (Continue reading)

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Classical virtues vs. modern values

Classical virtues vs. modern values

The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell edited by Jonathan V. Last (Templeton, Press, $28.48, 190 pages) Jonathan V. Last has collected a wonderful array of conservative writers to talk about the seven cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope, and charity, and how they have gone out of fashion. The authors, ranging from the well-known Jonah Goldberg and ... (Continue reading)

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A nice story

A nice story

Saved – By Mother Teresa by Sara denBok with Tim denBok (LifeCycle Books, $5, 22 pages Sara denBok’s story is remarkable and indeed miraculous. An orphan in India rescued by a police officer and delivered to the orphanage run by Mother Teresa. It is hard to imagine that denBok would be alive today were it not for the life-saving and life-affirming work of a 4-foot, 10-inch Missionary of Charity nun ... (Continue reading)

Trudeau puts his illiberalism on display in memoir

Trudeau puts his illiberalism on display in memoir

Common Ground by Justin Trudeau (HarperCollins, $32.50, 343 pages) Liberal leader Justin Trudeau released his combination memoirs/extended campaign manifesto for the 2015 federal election. Anyone who has followed the career of Justin Trudeau will find nothing new or surprising despite the copious listicles that appeared following the book’s publication in October (the CBC’s “Seven surprising revelations from Common Ground”or CTV’s “10 surprising revelations from Justin Trudeau’s new memoirs”). In the ... (Continue reading)

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The re-readable Mark Steyn

The re-readable Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn has been writing about the culture for more than a decade and a half, for National Review, the National Post, Maclean’s, The (London) Spectator, his own website (Steyn Online), and numerous other publications. Not a noted environmentalist, he recycles those columns, essays, and blogposts in a must-read collection, The documented Mark Steyn: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned by Mark Steyn (Regnery, $34.49, 442 pages). And they are ... (Continue reading)

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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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