The invaluable power of healthy skepticism

Usain Bolt became the fastest human being ever by eating – wait for it – Chicken McNuggets, not following the latest health care fad

The invaluable power of healthy skepticismKicking off her wonderful book from earlier this year, Christie Aschwanden asks a seven-word question that might help us recover some sanity for our hyper-affluent, marketing-mad society. “Do any of these products actually work?” Aschwanden asks in the introduction of Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn From the Strange…

Beaverbrook: A Canadian who liked to win

Relentless and focused, Max Aitken wasn’t squeamish about cutting corners to get what he wanted in business and politics

Beaverbrook: A Canadian who liked to winMax Aitken – widely known as Lord Beaverbrook – is the subject of a new biography by English author Charles Williams. Max Beaverbrook is a readable book on an interesting and controversial character, one whose balance of attributes is ambivalently encapsulated in the subtitle Not Quite a Gentleman. Aitken was born in Maple, Ont., in…

Anti-Alberta bigotry clothed in environmental clichés and platitudes

Anti-Alberta bigotry clothed in environmental clichés and platitudesDave Yager has spent nearly half a century in Alberta’s oil and natural gas industry and 40 years in journalism, notably with the oilfield trade magazine, The Roughneck. His first book, From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story, combines his extensive experience in a well-written and fact-centred analysis of the economics, politics and history…

Timely advice on how humanity can avoid self-extinction

The author of A 21st Century Economics for the People of a Living Earth, is convinced that we’re threatened … but not doomed.

Timely advice on how humanity can avoid self-extinctionAre homo sapiens so ignorant, greedy and short-sighted that they will blindly jump into the abyss? As a former geologist, I can tell you that on present form (exponential population growth, rapid species expansion into all corners of the globe, etc.), humanity is in the footsteps of almost every other dominant-species mass extinction in Earth’s…

Jim Bouton’s impact reached far beyond the baseball diamond

The Ball Four author was a significant social activist, speaking out about apartheid, and exposing small-town government and media corruption

Jim Bouton’s impact reached far beyond the baseball diamondJim Bouton died this month at age 80. The plethora of Bouton obituaries and tributes since have focused on his pitching career, which included winning a couple World Series games with the New York Yankees, and the blockbuster book Ball Four he wrote about his 1969 season. But Jim Bouton was also an influential sports…

The unsung heroes of Waterloo

The Longest Afternoon, by historian Brendan Simms, provides depth, nuance and new insight

The unsung heroes of WaterlooAlthough I considered myself reasonably well informed about the June 1815 Battle of Waterloo, the critical role of the King’s German Legion (KGL) and La Haye Sainte slipped below my radar. That’s been rectified by The Longest Afternoon, a slim volume from historian Brendan Simms. Simms, born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, is…

Want to write a book and get published? Here’s what you need to know

Terry Whalin of Morgan James Publishing explains why the author is so important to the marketing process and why e-commerce alone won't get the job done

Want to write a book and get published? Here’s what you need to knowTerry Whalin is acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Tell me what you do with Morgan James Publishing? Whalin: For over six years, I've worked as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. An acquisitions editor is the first person to see the submission and evaluate whether it’s appropriate for the company. We receive over…

The rise and fall of a Native American empire

The Comanches were very adaptable and formidable. But nature, politics, economics and immigration eventually undid them

The rise and fall of a Native American empireIt’s easy to think of the European arrival in North America as an unremitting story of Native American retreat. But as Finnish historian Pekka Hamalainen explains in The Comanche Empire, reality was more complicated. Empowered by the European introduction of the horse and the gun, the Comanches did very well for a long time. In…

Endeavour’s voyage of enlightenment added a hemisphere to the world

And, according to author Peter Moore, the endeavour attitude is characterized by dreaming of our better angels, not by acquiring more stuff

Endeavour’s voyage of enlightenment added a hemisphere to the worldMy daughter choreographs reading that plays to my whimsical non-fiction interests through Christmas gifts of books. This year, I carefully opened a beribboned volume by British author Peter Moore entitled Endeavour: The Ship and Attitude that Changed the World (2018). Right away, I recognized Endeavour as James Cook’s ship on his first epic voyage of discovery…

Building strong communities with education, innovation – and craft beer

James and Deborah Fallows hopscotched across America to understand what makes the best of Our Towns thrive

Building strong communities with education, innovation – and craft beerMy son, the thoughtful curator of my must-reads non-fiction list, has done it again. For Christmas, he gave me the American bestseller Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. The book, published in 2018, was written by award-winning The Atlantic Monthly journalists James and Deborah Fallows. The Fallows have made significant public…
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