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Owen Hughes (Montreal, Canada)

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Compassionate Capitalism: People Helping People Help Themselves
Compassionate Capitalism: People Helping People Help Themselves
von Rich DeVos
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Definitely worth buying (and reading), 27. Juli 2000
I am not involved in Amway (Rich de Vos sure is!), nor am I an ardent Christian (I believe Rich de Vos is), yet I have no hesitation in recommending this book. I suppose I'm always on the lookout for new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. "Compassionate Capitalism" provides some real meat for a hungry world in need of just that - new ideas. Economics is a complicated field (so I've been told - I'm no expert), yet Rich de Vos has managed to demystify it, at least as far as this reader is concerned. His ideas seem to be free of any real political ties or religious taints (religion doesn't enter into the book at all) - he seems just to be genuinely interested in people (I wish I couldn't hear the sneers, but unfortunately I do). I also admire him as an American. Goodness knows America has the driving force and energy to influence the whole of this world one way or another, but it doesn't really seem to have the will (nor, perhaps, the imagination) to do anything really creative (sure they have introduced fuel efficient motors - a relative concept at the best of times - but have you seen the size of the 1999 and 2000 models? ). So learning that there are ideas out there which do not just mean more of the same, and bigger and meaner (whether from the auto industry or the rest of the military-industrial complex) is somewhat reassuring.
One thing I'm sure of: every American (those who can read) should digest this book. It doesn't try to convert. It simply tries (very well) to make sense out of the current madness.


How To Win Friends And Influence People (Hors Catalogue)
How To Win Friends And Influence People (Hors Catalogue)
von Dale Carnegie
  Taschenbuch

2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Somewhat ahead of its time, 27. Juli 2000
I guess if Dale Carnegie was writing today, he would be quite a star author, since the subject which he helped to develop has become one of the most popular of all those to be found on bookshop shelves. How surprising is it then, to consider that Carnegie had such tremendous success in an epoch where a great many people would have had difficulty just coming to terms with his ideas, let alone embracing them. It seems simplistic to say that most of Carnegie's text is just plain common sense: it certainly is that. His prose is also delivered in an unequivocal fashion, but with humour. He knows what he's talking about, and he knows probably, that you or me or the next guy is going to be sceptical anyway. So he just tells it like he sees it and hopes the reader will catch the vision. Since he really hasn't got a hobbyhorse to ride, we do catch the drift (at least the millions of copies sold suggest that we do). I believe if you read this book and don't have a thoroughly enjoyable time (as you straighten out a lot of your own thinking), then it will only be because you need to come back to it in two or perhaps five years time. In addition to the above, let me say that Carnegie is also a fine writer, which helps.


How to Write a Book Proposal
How to Write a Book Proposal
von Michael Larsen
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen The Compleat Guide to the subject, 19. Juli 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: How to Write a Book Proposal (Taschenbuch)
The one thing a book on this subject must have, above all else, is brevity. Michael Larsen's suitably thin volume has this and many other qualities, making it a very useful tool for the writer who seriously wishes to publish. I can't say whether it actually works or not, as I have not yet sent off a proposal based on this work. However, I have laboriously put together one proposal (for a book which missed its deadline and has become, at least for the moment, rather defunct) using this work as a guide. I can affirm that its wisdom is distilled in sufficiently short order so that it is possible to find your way about in it all, as you are trying to come to grips with the finer details (and not forget anything). A larger book would, in contrast, have you wallowing. In any case, Larsen has built this text from his own experience: he knows it works and he manages to convey that sort of confidence to the reader of "How to Write a Book Proposal." Anyone thinking of writing something publishable would do well to get this beforehand - much of the roadwork can be done on the way and it helps enormously to know what your chances are, before coughing up 200,000 words or more on a subject that no-one will publish anyway.
To anyone trying to publish a book in the future, I therefore say: good luck, and you can increase your chances by reading and understanding this book first.


The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: From Tro to Vietnam
The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam: From Tro to Vietnam
von Barbara W. Tuchman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,10

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Not up to the usual standard, 30. Juni 2000
Barbara Tuchman is a first-rate writer and historian whose books I have much enjoyed. For some years now I have been meaning to get a copy of "The March of Folly," since it is a book which greatly appeals to me in its concept. To look at the history of modern man (since about 1,000 BC) and take examples of real foolishness on the part of a number of key governments, and try to see why they so acted, strikes me as a wonderful idea for a book. However, I can now say, somewhat reluctantly, that "The March of Folly" is not up to the standard of Tuchman's earlier books. I find this curious indeed and have been wondering for some time why it is so.
Firstly, the writing is not up to par and I can only put this down to sloppy editing. Some of the oddest phrases in the book are so un-Tuchman like, that I imagine they have been written by a researcher and, for whatever reason, have managed to sneak by both the author and her editors. Tuchman is usually crisp and succinct. Some of this text is laborious and redundant; it's most surprising. Perhaps this first fault leads to the second, although not entirely. In "The Guns of August" and "The Proud Tower," Tuchman seems to be in very complete command of both her history and her sources. In "The March of Folly," one begins to wonder if she has not strayed too far afield and is rather unsure of her ground. So it appears to me, especially with reference to the beginning of the book, where she discusses both the siege of Troy and then the Papacy during the Renaissance, when she seems very shaky indeed. Or it may be that this apparent instability is founded on limited research and that that has been allowed to come through in the book. Whatever the reason, I find that the book does not live up to its promise, either conceptually or authorially.
The sections on the American Revolution and the Vietnam War are interesting in themselves, but one wonders at times, given the detail involved in both cases, if Tuchman is not actually off the rails. The fact that there is no stated plan at the beginning of the book (chapters and sub-headings and synopses, I mean) makes me wonder indeed, just how much of a plan she had. So I think you can read this book for its individual content (i.e., if you happen to be interested in the particular periods covered), but the disappointment overall is that the really first-rate text that one might have expected, does not materialise. I will say that the essay at the end is very Tuchmanesque and is a brave attempt, quand même, to tie the threads of the book together. Yet I'm unsure of just how far she can get away with a text that smacks so readily of invention and understudy, and in my opinion, the epilogue is hardly sufficient, by itself, to save the whole. I suppose it is just possible that she and I both got carried away by the title.


The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series
The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914; Barbara W. Tuchman's Great War Series
von Barbara W. Tuchman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 13,10

11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting historical viewpoint; fine writing, 20. Juni 2000
Barbara Tuchman is a very good writer of history. It's one of those situations in which you thank the Lord, or somebody, that this particular person decided to go ahead in this particular direction. I don't know if just anyone will enjoy "The Proud Tower," since it deals with a very precise period in history, the Victorian Age in Britain, or the time leading up to the First World War. However, for me Tuchman's book, while not actually revelatory (her book on the origins of W. W. I - "The Guns of August" - definitely was), proved well worth reading. She tends to deal a lot in anecdotes, making you wonder if some of the remarks she attributes to others have been taken out of context. But if this is a weakness, it also lends strength to the book by making it eminently readable. The period of world and particularly European history leading up to those August guns is endlessly interesting, since here was a world which in many ways, was closer to that of the 10th century, than the 20th. Aristocracy was fading, labour movements were slowly but surely making themselves felt, and the lights were, as we now know, slowly going out all over Europe. If you haven't read Tuchman yet, you are missing a very serious investigator who has the added charm of authorial integrity, but doesn't ram anything down your throat. It's intelligent, often perspicacious writing, which really freshens up our notions of what a history book should be.


The Boat Who Wouldn't Float
The Boat Who Wouldn't Float
von Farley Mowat
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 4,40

5.0 von 5 Sternen Tremendous sea yarn by one of Canada�s best writers, 31. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Boat Who Wouldn't Float (Taschenbuch)
This is a tremendous sea yarn told by an old salt with many years of sailing under his belt. Farley Mowat is not well known as a sailor perhaps, but as someone who has skippered his way along the Newfoundland coast and survived, he must be reasonably authentic. Like many inland-born Canadians, Mowat had not sailed a small boat at sea before arriving in Newfoundland after the war. However, he had done a lot of sailing on Lake Superior in his boyhood and youth, on a yacht his father owned and sailed for many years. And sailing appears to have been in his blood.
The tale of how he acquires this particular boat, then sails along the coast for the summer and finally brings it up the St-Lawrence Seaway all the way to Montreal, will please any lover of maritime fare. Among his many books, Mowat wrote a number of autobiographical ones, some of which are lighter in tone. "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" is delightfully easy to read and, along with "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be"(the story of Mowat's childhood), gives interesting insights into the life of one of Canada's foremost writers.


The Dog Who Wouldn't Be
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be
von Farley Mowat
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 5,10

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The lighter side of Farley Mowat, 31. Mai 2000
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (Taschenbuch)
This is a light-hearted book by Farley Mowat, a writer with whom we normally associate more serious texts. Yet Mowat is just as fun-loving as the next person and it comes out in this collection of stories about his youth in Ontario and Manitoba. Mutt, the dog of the book's title, is a dog who very reasonably refuses to act like one. So he won't hunt ducks properly or do much else that is reckoned too dog-like, at least while anyone's watching. Mutt was Mowat's constant companion throughout many boyhood forays into the wild country around wherever he happened to be living. On the prairies in the 1920s and 30s, he says, it was easy to get out in the bush, because it started right where the town stopped. You just had to walk out. So began Farley Mowat's lifelong love of the natural world. Indeed, he made a pretty good naturalist by the age of ten and earned himself a minor living for a time, through the dubious activity of collecting birds' eggs. This is an easy book to get along with and one that would probably be enjoyed by children. Indeed, I assume it may well have been intended for Mowat's own children. I thoroughly recommend it.


The Great Shame: And The Triumph Of The Irish In The English -Speaking World
The Great Shame: And The Triumph Of The Irish In The English -Speaking World
von Thomas Keneally
  Gebundene Ausgabe
Preis: EUR 25,02

5.0 von 5 Sternen Erin go bragh, 27. Mai 2000
The story of what happened to the Irish political prisoners known as the Young Irelanders and the Fenians, in the 1850s and 60s, is expertly told by Australian writer Thomas Keneally in "The Great Shame." Sticking firmly to documented history, about the only thing Keneally leaves out is the nastier side of Fenianism, with its secret vendettas and occasional underlying brutality. But that all lies in the misty past, and Keneally has done a first-rate job of bringing much of this truculent history out into the light.
This is an epic journey, just as the formation of the Irish diaspora needs it to be. You never quite know where you are you going to go next, as ships sail back and forth from Ireland to Australia and from Australia to the Americas. It is the roaring days of sail just before steam, and gold is being discovered right and left on both sides of the Pacific, sufficient to lend impetus to various Fenian schemes through goldfields' fundraising.
One of the characters involved in the 50s was a man destined to become an American Civil War hero with the rank of general. He fought on the Union side while another Irishman who had fought the same battle as he had at home in Ireland, and had also been transported for it, fought with the Confederates. Such were the fortunes of war at that time.
The book also recounts how the Fenian forces tried on three occasions, prior to Confederation, to invade Canada in order to hurt the British in North America. They also had the long-term plan of mounting an invasion of Ireland from a Canadian base. It was all a bit pathetic in the end, but for a time, it was in deadly earnest and who could have said what the result might not have been had the Fenian forces succeeded.
Perhaps the most interesting part of a very entertaining book is the retelling of an attempted rescue from Western Australia of the last group of Fenian "lifers," all soldiers who had been cashiered from the British Army for their part in Fenian plots in England and Ireland. These men had little hope of ever leaving their prison, and were mostly ailing by the time American Fenians had raised the enormous sum needed to buy a ship to go to their rescue. The hair-raising tale of what happened is one of the nineteenth century's best adventure stories, and Keneally relishes the telling of it.
So this is a book which has everything an Irishman, or an Irishman at heart, could wish for. I wonder what the reaction of the English might be to such a tale. The evidence is somewhat damning, to the effect that political repression of the most odious kind was used during and after the famine. Of course, this is only referring to the nineteenth century and does not go back in any detail to the awful story of Cromwell's men or even earlier, which might lead one to think that the English, when they came to Ireland, only did so to practice.
If you've got any Irish blood in you, (and if you didn't previously know one way or the other, this may prove to be a glorious occasion for finding out) you'll fairly quickly be learning to say the old war cry, Erin go bragh. Ireland forever! It's a strange tale and one that should make us reflect about the nature of power and its misuse. It all seems so long ago now but that's just a mirage of sorts, for it was really only just the other day.
Lastly I should point out that writing a book like this must have been a sheer delight. Keneally seems to have visited many of the sites he talks about and they are often in out of the way places. I imagine that it was an absolute pleasure for him to write a book like this and I look forward to the day when he finds time to do it again. I can't recommend "The Great Shame" highly enough.


The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel
The Fool's Progress: An Honest Novel
von Edward Abbey
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 14,50

5.0 von 5 Sternen Astonishing last autobiographical novel, 26. Mai 2000
Edward Abbey died in March of 1989. In the latter part of 1988, he saw his last and perhaps most accomplished work brought to bed at his publishers in New York. The author of many highly controversial works of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his seemingly solitary stand against the ecological destruction of the western American deserts, Abbey's last book effectively completed a cycle. At the same time it was a very close foretelling of his own probable doom.
Abbey was an environmentalist from the beginning. In the East of his youth, he saw strip mines close in on his father's mountain acres. Out West, he witnessed the early preparations being made to dam the Colorado and its tributaries. He rafted down Glen Canyon and saw the hidden valleys filled with a beauty that was soon after to be engulfed. He smelt out the tricky political deals being woven by senators and landowners in the forgotten tracts of the butte country and did his best to expose them. Against all of the attempts to tame this corner of the American wilderness, Abbey railed.
In books ranging from "Desert Solitaire" (1967), a journal of a season in the desert, to "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (1975), an explosive novel of saboteurs versus dambuilders, Abbey argues his points in favour of preserving the canyon country. Having been there "before" and "after," his voice has a compelling authority. To read his account of Glen Canyon before the dam is to be filled with regret at the later spoliation.
In "The Fool's Progress," Abbey gives us something of a summing up of his own life. The book is like a reverse history of Kerouac's "On the Road." Instead of youth rushing out through the length of America to meet its new and cosmic identity on the West Coast, here is a life which is wearing down, attacked from within, going back from the desert to the Appalachian hills of birth and ancestry. In the chronicle of the winding down, as the truck begins to fail and a mortal pain begins to rise, boyhood is measured against the actual experience of the now hard-bitten adult.
"The Fool's Progress" is the work of a now accomplished writer in his prime. We might have expected much more from Edward Abbey and his early death is a great loss. Nevertheless, his completed works stand on their own and I can recommend them to anyone who is intrigued by the workings of an original mind as it tackles the problems of our age.


Kabloona: Among the Inuit (Graywolf Rediscovery)
Kabloona: Among the Inuit (Graywolf Rediscovery)
von Gontran De Montaigne Poncins
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen A privileged glimpse of Eskimo life, 24. Mai 2000
Gontran de Poncins's "Kabloona" is a classic of Arctic adventure, to be ranked alongside Farley Mowat's "People of the Deer," Harold Horwood's "White Eskimo" and parts of Peter Freuchen's "Vagrant Viking." A French aristocrat with a genuine yearning for adventure, de Poncins made his way to North America just prior to the last war. By stages, he managed to go right up into latter day Nunavut, some of the highest inhabited Arctic territory in Canada's north. Yet he didn't stop there. Putting himself into the hands of an Eskimo hunter who happened to be heading off onto the sea ice, he underwent an extraordinary odyssey lasting the winter through, in which he camped with the Eskimos in their winter igloos.
de Poncins takes us into the very private, very communal world of these northern people. Private because, for Europeans, entering this strangely illuminated landscape was even then almost an impossibility. de Poncins admits that his initial impression was overshadowed by the nausea which sprang immediately into being as he tried to deal with the strange mixture of smells in the igloos. Most Europeans would not pass that first test and many an estimate of Eskimo culture has been biased by just such an affront to a sensitive olfactory centre. Yet once he had passed this initial barrier, a process which he says took some time, he found himself in a world unlike any other he had experienced or imagined. It is into this ageless community that he takes us for a very privileged glimpse of the last of the true ice-dwellers.
Although a French national, de Poncins chose to remain in North America and he wrote his text about the Inuit in English, in collaboration with a friend. Not much is known about the author's life thereafter, as he did not publish much other work, but like G. B. Edwards's solitary yet wonderful book about life on Guernsey, "The Book of Ebenezer Le Page," this one book by de Poncins is a major accomplishment.


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