Cover of Distilled : a memoir of family, Seagram, baseball, and philanthropy
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Distilled : a memoir of family, Seagram, baseball, and philanthropy / Charles Bronfman, with Howard Green. First edition. Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016.

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From the publisher:

While much has been written about Charles Bronfman’s father, Sam, a titan of industry, there is no public record of Charles’s thoughts on his own life, family, career, and significant accomplishments in sport and philanthropy. Distilled chronicles the key events in the life of an heir to one of Canada’s great fortunes.

Charles Bronfman grew up surrounded by luxury, in a twenty-room mansion with a large staff. Via the family’s control of the distilling giant Seagram, the Bronfmans dominated the liquor business, with brands such as Crown Royal, V.O., and Chivas Regal. By the 1980s, Seagram was also the biggest shareholder of DuPont, and by the 1990s, the family’s wealth was in the billions, culminating in the $35--billion sale of Seagram to France’s Vivendi, which led to financial and family disaster.

In Distilled, Charles reflects on all of it—his relationship with his parents and his brother, Edgar; working in the family business; landing Canada’s first big-league baseball franchise (the Montreal Expos); leading a philanth-ropic life by promoting Canadian identity through Heritage Minutes and supporting Israel through such innovative initiatives as the globally respec-ted Birth-right Israel; and how the Bronfman family splintered over the sale of Seagram.


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I am a Metis : the story of Gerry St. Germain / Peter O'Neil. Madeira Park, BC : Harbour Publishing, 2016.

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Gerry St. Germain's story begins in "Petit Canada" on the shores of the Assiniboine, growing up with his two younger sisters, his mother and his father - a shy Metis trapper and construction worker who sometimes struggled to put food on the table. St. Germain was initially troubled in school, scrapping with classmates and often skipping out to shoot pool, but an aunt and uncle with some extra cash paid his tuition to Catholic school, where a nun recognized his aptitude for math and encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He would go on to become an air force pilot, undercover policeman and West Coast chicken farmer. Business gave way to politics, and in 1988 he became one of a tiny number of Aboriginal Canadians named to a federal cabinet. That milestone was just one of many for a man who played a critical role in Canada's Conservative movement for a generation.

From the Brian Mulroney era to the roller-coaster leadership of Kim Campbell, then to the collapse of the Progressive Conservative party in 1993 and the subsequent rebuilding of the movement under Stephen Harper, St. Germain remained a trusted confidant of prime ministers and a crucial and often daring behind-the-scenes broker in bringing warring factions together. But he is most proud of his efforts during his later years in the Senate, when he was a quiet hero to Canada's Aboriginal community. He spearheaded major Senate reports on key issues like land claims and on-reserve education during the Harper era, when there were few friendly faces for First Nations leaders on Parliament Hill. That role reflected St. Germain's profound determination to help people who are still dealing today the brutal legacy of residential schools and the paternalistic Indian Act. Memories of his humble beginnings, and the shame he once felt over his Metis heritage, bubbled to the surface in his final address to Canada's Parliament in 2012, when he said in a voice quaking with emotion: "I am a Metis."


Cover of Brown : what being brown in the world today means (to everyone)
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Brown : what being brown in the world today means (to everyone) / Kamal Al-Solaylee. Toronto : HarperCollinsPublishers, 2016.

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Brown is not white. Brown is not black. Brown is an experience, a state of mind. Historically speaking, issues of race and skin colour have been interpreted along black and white lines, leaving out millions of people whose stories of migration and racial experiences have shaped our modern world. In this new book by Kamal Al-Solaylee whose bestsellingIntolerable was a finalist for Canada Reads and for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and won the Toronto Book Award, fills in the narrative gap by taking a global look at the many social, political, economic and personal implications of being a brown-skinned person in the world now. Brown people have emerged as the source of global cheap labour (Hispanics or South Asians) while also coming under scrutiny and suspicion for their culture and faith (Arabs and Muslims). To be brown is to be on the cusp of whiteness and on the edge of blackness.

Brown is packed with storytelling and on-the-street reporting conducted over two years in 10 countries from four continents that reveals a multitude of lives and stories from destinations as far apart as the United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Britain, Trinidad, France, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Qatar, the United States, and Canada. It contains striking research about immigration, workers’ lives and conditions, and the pursuit of a lighter shade of brown as a global status symbol. It is also a personal book, as the author studies the significance of brown skin for those whose countries of origin include North Africa and the Middle East, Mexico and Central America, and South and East Asia, he also reflects on his own identity and experiences as a brown-skinned person (in his case from Yemen) who has grown up with images of whiteness as the only indicators of beauty and desire.


Cover of Thank you for being late
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Thank you for being late : an optimist's guide to thriving in the age of accelerations / Thomas L. Friedman. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The celebrated New York Times columnist diagnoses this unprecedented historical moment and suggests strategies for "resilience and propulsion" that will help us adapt."Are things just getting too damned fast?" Friedman cites 2007 as the year we reached a technological inflection point. Combined with increasingly fast-paced globalization (financial goods and services, information, ideas, innovation) and the subsequent speedy shocks to our planet's natural system (climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, geochemical flows), we've entered an "age of accelerations" that promises to transform "almost every aspect of modern life." The three-time Pulitzer winner puts his familiar methodology—extensive travel, thorough reporting, interviews with the high-placed movers and shakers, conversations with the lowly moved and shaken—to especially good use here, beginning with a wonderfully Friedman-esque encounter with a parking attendant during which he explains the philosophy and technique underlying his columns and books. The author closes with a return to his Minnesota hometown to reconnect with and explore some effective habits of democratic citizenship. In between, he discusses topics as varied as how garbage cans got smart, how the exponential growth in computational power has resulted in a "supernova" of creative energy, how the computer Watson won Jeopardy, and how, without owning a single property, Airbnb rents out more rooms than all the major hotel chains combined. To meet these and other dizzying accelerations, Friedman advises developing a "dynamic stability," and he prescribes nothing less than a redesign of our workplaces, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and communities. Drawing lessons from Mother Nature about adaptability, sustainability, and interdependence, he never underestimates the challenges ahead. However, he's optimistic about our chances as he seeks out these strategies in action, ranging from how AT&T trains its workers to how Tunisia survived the Arab Spring to how chickens can alleviate African poverty. Required reading for a generation that's "going to be asked to dance in a hurricane."


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How to be a civil servant / Martin Stanley. London : Biteback Publishing, 2016.

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From the publisher:

Although it is seldom recognised as such by the public, the civil service is a profession like any other. The UK civil service employs 400,000 people across the country, with over 20,000 students and graduates applying to enter every year through its fast-stream competition alone.

Martin Stanley’s seminal How to Be a Civil Servant was the first guidebook to the British civil service ever published. It remains the only comprehensive guide on how civil servants should effectively carry out their duties, hone their communication skills and respond to professional, ethical and technical issues relevant to the job. It addresses such questions as:

  • How do you establish yourself with your minister as a trusted adviser?
  • How should you feed the media so they don’t feed on you?
  • What’s the best way to deal with potential conflicts of interest

This fully updated new edition provides the latest advice, and is a must-read for newly appointed civil servants and for those looking to enter the profession – not to mention students, academics, journalists, politicians and anyone with an interest in the inner workings of the British government.


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Tribe : on homecoming and belonging / Sebastian Junger. First Canadian edition. Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016..

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Based on a Vanity Fair article from June 2015, Tribe is a look at post-traumatic stress disorder and the challenges veterans face returning to society. Using his background in anthropology, Sebastian Junger argues that the problem lies not with vets or with the trauma they’ve suffered, but with the society to which they are trying to return.

One of the most puzzling things about veterans who experience PTSD is that the majority never even saw combatand yet they feel deeply alienated and out of place back home. The reason may lie in our natural inclination, as a species, to live in groups of thirty to fifty people who are entirely reliant on one another for safety, comfort and a sense of meaning: in short, the life of a soldier.

It is one of the ironies of the modern age that as affluence rises in a society, so do rates of suicide, depression and of course PTSD. In a wealthy society people don’t need to cooperate with one another, so they often lead much lonelier lives that lead to psychological distress. There is a way for modern society to reverse this trend, however, and studying how veterans react to coming home may provide a clue to how to do it. But it won’t be easy.


 Cover of Democracy reinvented
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Democracy reinvented : participatory budgeting and civic innovation in America / Hollie Russon Gilman. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 2016.

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Participatory Budgeting—the experiment in democracy that could redefine how public budgets are decided in the United States.

Democracy Reinvented is the first comprehensive academic treatment of participatory budgeting in the United States, situating it within a broader trend of civic technology and innovation. This global phenomenon, which has been called "revolutionary civics in action" by the New York Times, started in Brazil in 1989 but came to America only in 2009. Participatory budgeting empowers citizens to identify community needs, work withelected officials to craft budget proposals, and vote on how to spend public funds.

Democracy Reinvented places participatory budgeting within the larger discussion of the health of U.S. democracy and focuses on the enabling political and institutional conditions. Author and former White House policy adviser Hollie Russon Gilman presents theoretical insights, indepth case studies, and interviews to offer a compelling alternative to the current citizen disaffection and mistrust of government. She offers policyrecommendations on how to tap online tools and other technological and civic innovations to promote more inclusive governance.

While most literature tends to focus on institutional changes without solutions, this book suggests practical ways to empower citizens to become change agents.Reinvesting in Democracy also includes a discussion on the challenges and opportunities that come with using digital tools to re-engage citizens in governance.


Cover of Populist Explosion : How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics
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Populist Explosion : How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics / John B. Judis. New york : Columbia Global Reports, 2016.

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Populism is on its biggest run since the Second World War, in the United States (Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump); France (National Front); Britain (United Kingdom Independence Party); Finland (Finns Party), Denmark (People's Party) and more on the right; Spain (Podemus), Italy (Five Star Movement), Greece (Syriza) and others on the left. These movements and candidates are an early warning sign of the breakup of the political consensus that has reigned in the U.S. and Europe since the 1980s. How did the Great Recession help reawaken such a disparate but powerful framework of political appeal all across the Atlantic? Veteran political reporter John Judis offers a coherent big picture of how we got here that every reader of politics no matter their party affiliation will need to read.


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A good death : making the most of our final choices / Sandra Martin ; with a foreword by Margaret macMillan. First edition. Toronto : patrick Crean Editions, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd., 2016..

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The Good Death is a clarion call to boomers, many of whom are confronting their own mortality, inviting them to initiate a national debate about our ultimate and universal experience: death. Choice about how we die is as pressing today as abortion was in the 1970s and 1980s. It is the final campaign for a generation which fought for reproductive rights, sexual equality and lobbied for protections against racial and religious discrimination. Canada is a much more diverse country than it was when the abortion law was declared unconstitutional in 1988, but there are many legal, moral and emotional similarities in the pro-choice and right to die campaigns. Henry Morgentaler, the doctor who spearheaded the pro-choice movement, advocated for the right to die at the end of his own life. So did Doris Anderson, the feisty feminist editor of Chatelaine magazine, and Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique.

While feminism was a driver in the pro-choice movement, aging boomers (many of them feminists) are a force in the right to die movement. They have watched their parents struggle with dementia and metastasized cancers, enduring painful and futile treatments, and they are determined to avoid that fate. Having influenced so many other lifestyle choices, they want to control the ultimate decision: the manner of their own deaths.

They are part of a growing number of people whose stories are being shared in a grassroots surge to challenge the law against assisted suicide. It’s a movement that pits compassion against orthodoxy, the right to die against unwavering reverence for life and secularism against religious dogma and cultural traditions. Modern death is a wrenching political dilemma that becomes more pressing as the population ages. The Good Death confronts our fears about dying, charts our declining belief in a spiritual or religious afterlife, exposes how medical technology is making death more prolonged and unnatural than at any time in recorded history and asks the tough question that many avoid, but all must face: How do I want to die?


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Canada and the
United Nations
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Canada and the United Nations : legacies, limits, prospects / edited by Colin McCullogh and Robert Teigrop ; foreword by Lloyd Axworthy. Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016.

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A nation of peacekeepers or soldiers? Honest broker, loyal ally, or chore boy for empire? Attempts to define Canada’s past, present, and proper international role have often led to contradiction and incendiary debate. Canada and the United Nations seeks to move beyond simplistic characterizations by allowing evidence, rather than ideology, to drive the inquiry. The result is a pragmatic and forthright assessment of the best practices in Canada’s UN participation. Sparked by the Harper government’s realignment of Canadian internationalism, Canada and the United Nations reappraises the mythic and often self-congratulatory assumptions that there is a distinctively Canadian way of interacting with the world, and that this approach has profited both the nation and the globe. While politicians and diplomats are given their due, this collection goes beyond many traditional analyses by including the UN-related attitudes and activities of ordinary Canadians. Contributors find that while Canadians have exhibited a broad range of responses to the UN, fundamental beliefs about the nation’s relationship with the world are shared widely among citizens of various identities and eras. While Canadians may hold inflated views of their country’s international contributions, their notions of Canada’s appropriate role in global governance correlate strongly with what experts in the field consider the most productive approaches to the Canada-UN relationship. In an era when some of the globe’s most profound challenges - climate change, refugees, terrorism, economic uncertainty - are not constrained by borders, Canada and the United Nations provides a timely primer on Canada’s diplomatic strengths.

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