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Olivia Chow's 'My Journey' is the antidote to political despair

My Journey

by Olivia Chow
(HarperCollins ,

When I think about Olivia Chow I always think about her seemingly endless energy and her infectious enthusiasm as she works with people on a huge array of social issues.


'Together, we've got a fighting chance': Ed Finn's extraordinary life

Ed Finn: A Journalist's Life on the Left

by Ed Finn
(Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,

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At first, the title of Ed Finn's memoir Ed Finn: A Journalist's Life on the Left seems somewhat misleading for a couple reasons.

Firstly, Ed Finn was more than your everyday journalist. In fact, he was the first NDP leader ever in Canada (formed as the Newfoundland Democratic Party in 1959 and a precursor to the New Democratic Party a few years later).


Decolonizing mind and soul: 'They Called Me Number One' is a powerful read about residential schools and systemic racism

They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School

by Bev Sellars

I usually get very excited about reading a book written by a residential school survivor and this instance was no exception. I experience joy in that we are now hearing survivors’ voices that had in the past been silenced.

Bev Sellars’ They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School details Sellars’ life from the time she was five years old until the age of 58 and she notes four reasons she felt compelled to write this book.

First, Sellars wanted to recognize that in the early 1990s "our communities first began to explore and deal with the aftermath of the Indian residential schools."


Wael Ghonim on the social media spark that lit Egypt's revolutionary fire

Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir

by Wael Ghonim
(Mariner Books,

Reading Revolution 2.0 against the backdrop of the current unrest in Egypt, one can’t help but feel nostalgic.

After all, this book is an ode to the belief that people have the power to choose their political, social, and economic destinies -- at least if they unite in their struggle for justice.

And for all of us, it indeed seemed possible as we watched the Egyptian revolution unfold, when citizens who had up until been “unengaged,” “cautious” and “intimidated” finally broke through the barrier of fear. Who can forget those staggering scenes in Cairo’s Tahrir square full of millions of hopeful, demanding, persistent demonstrators finally finding their voice?


Richard Stursberg: Inside the CBC

The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC

by Richard Stursberg
(Douglas & McIntyre,

When Richard Stursberg took over as head of English services at the CBC in July 2004, he was determined to set a new course for the Mother Corp’s television operations. As far as he was concerned, CBC TV was plagued by elitism, mediocrity and, worst of all, indifference to its audience. Stursberg launched a new strategy to attract viewers by providing programming that was above all else entertaining. “There would be only one measure for success: audiences,” he writes in his new memoir, The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC. “Everything would be pinned on rebuilding the audiences.”


Eli Clare's Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation

Exile and Pride

Exile and Pride (Classics Edition): Disability, Queerness, and Liberation

by Eli Clare
(South End Press,

I often feel that describing the pieces that I write in response to books as “reviews” is a bit inaccurate because I only occasionally relate to the books in question in the ways that a review is, traditionally, supposed to. What I write tend to be more reactions or reflections or responses, or just meanderings. Nonetheless, I inevitably end up deciding just to sit with that unease -- to accept that the label “review” doesn’t always quite fit the way it is normatively intended and to trouble and loosen it by taking it on anyway. In the case of this book, I’m afraid that what I write will be more of a moderately reflective fanboy “squee” than a proper review.


Eating Dirt: A tree-planting tale

Eating Dirt

Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe

by Charlotte Gill
(Greystone Books,

Tree planting is so much more than just a profession. It is an identity, a lifestyle and a responsibility. A select few people are built for tree planting life, which requires the physical and mental stamina to endure the elements, work long hours of monotonous labour, face insects and wildlife of all sizes and numbers, leave home for long periods of time and live with the bare necessities. Perceived as a bad dream to many, it is the unique and coveted life of tree planters, of which author Charlotte Gill is one.

Eating Dirt is the veteran tree planter's homage to not only planting life, but to the larger context in which deforestation and reforestation take place. It is also a journey through her planting career as it comes near to its bitter-sweet end.


Remembering Chile's 9/11

Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter

Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter

by Carmen Aguirre
(Douglas & McIntyre,

The year was 1973 and it is the September 11th that forever altered the lives of Chileans as a military coup removed socialist president Salvador Allende and General Augusto Pinochet took power. This led to widespread terror and repression, another 9/11 never to be forgotten.

Carmen Aguirre, author of Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter, was a five-year-old in Chile at that time, and those events defined the trajectory of her life. She came to Canada the next year with her family as a political refugee and five years later, returned to South America as part of the Chilean resistance movement.


Tony Blair's Journey: A memoir with 'balls'

Tony Blair: A Journey

A Journey: My Political Life

by Tony Blair
(Knopf Canada,

There's a grassroots campaign under way to move copies of Tony Blair's memoir, A Journey: My Political Life, from the biography to the crime sections of bookstores. I trust that's true crime and not mystery, because the 700-page reflections of the former British PM who infamously stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" with George W. Bush contain precious few twists or unexpected insights. No mea culpa here.

Considering that Blair's journey begins with the whole-scale rebranding of the Labour Party and its landslide 1997 victory, then declines slowly and steadily through the Iraq War disaster, the duel for power with Gordon Brown, and finally the bursting of the neoliberal bubble, the book is remarkably strident and unapologetic.


Strolling, Palestinian-style

Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

by Raja Shehadeh
I was determined to see the sun setting over the sea of Jaffa. I made it. The air was dry and fresh. Lower hills spread below me like a crumpled sheet of blue velvet with the hamlets huddled in its folds. One hill interlocked with another in a slow, gentle, slope down to the coastal plain and ultimately the sea. I was standing on the highest hill before the drop. I continued to take in the view as the last rays of the sun were making their final slow journey dropping gently into the horizon, which I could barely make out in the haze...I was unaware that this would be the last time I would be able to stand here on an empty hill. Shortly afterward the Israeli authorities expropriated the land and used it to build the settlement of Dolev.


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