Dispatches from the Global Village. Evans, Derek. 2007. Wood Lake Publishing, Inc., Kelowna, BC, Canada. ISBN: 978-1-551455-53-2.
I had the opportunity to meet and be a student of Derek Evan's as one of the first cohort of middle career professionals to take and graduate from a new diploma in negotiation and dialogue program from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Derek has an unfaltering hope that people can find within themselves the wisdom to choose a different path and that somehow we can learn to live in peach despite our differences. He has been part of Amnesty International, part of major peace processes around the world, and has met many of the major figures of our modern time. The stories in this book provide an insight into Derek's view of the world and how he builds and develops his approach to everyday life.
Super Crunchers. How Anything Can Be Predicted. Ayres, Ian. 2007. John Murray (Publishers), London, England, UK. ISBN: 978-0-7195-6465-9.
Beginning with examples of the mathematician who out-predicted wine buffs in determining the best vintages, and the sports scouts who now use statistics rather than intuition to pick winners, the author shows how the pioneers who 'think by numbers', who he calls Super Crunchers, find patterns in human behaviour and predict the future with staggeringly accurate results. This is a wake up call for everyone from wine afficionados to medical doctors to the average consumer to look to the numbers to provide valuable information they need to make better decisions. I work with a lot of groups who believe they can develop a strategic plan for their organization without doing the necessary background research, analysis, and number crunching. This book adds a great deal of support to the importance of taking the time to do it right which increases the success of any planning and decision-making exercise they undertake.
The Deliberative Democracy Handbook. Strategies for Effective Civic Engagement in the 21st Century. Gastil, John and Levine, Peter, editors. 2005. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., San Francisco, California, USA. ISBN: 13-978-0-7879-7661-3.
The preface of the book starts out with the statement that were democracy a simple matter, it would not require a handbook. It goes on to state that this handbook has been written to help the reader learn new methods of citizen engagement that emphasize face-to-face and on-line deliberation among publics large and small, with an emphasis on understanding and enhancing deliberative democracy in the United States. Having recently been one of the first cohort of middle career professionals to take and graduate from Simon Fraser University's new Diploma in Dialogue and Negotiation, and one of several hundred Facilitators in North America to pay their expenses and volunteer their services to America speaks to help the citizens of New Orleans develop a reunified redevelopment plan for their city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I can attest to the importance and value of the importance of deliberation and/in democracy.
Faberge's Eggs. One Man's Masterpieces and the End of An Empire. Faber, Tony. 2009. Pan Books, London, England, UK. ISBN: 978-0-330-44024-0.
This book provides a carefully researched and comprehensive account of the fifty jeweled Easter eggs made by Carl Faberge for the Russian royal family between 1885 and 1917 and tells a fascinating story which combines unique decorative art, contemporary culture, history, and the murder of the Romanovs. And, the more recent interest in them as symbols of the extravagances and tragedies of their age and as highly sought after collectors' items commanding millions of dollars at auctions and the objects of extreme competition and rivalry between those who seek to possess them.
Memories of The Skeena. 1976. Wicks, Walter. Hancock House, Saanichton, BC, Canada and Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. ISBN: 0-919654-62-2.
Walter Wicks arrived from Germany at the age of 7 with his widowed mother and 13 month old brother on a coastal steamer at the North Pacific Cannery located at the mouth of the Skeena River in November 1900, on the farthest north coast of British Columbia, 30 miles south of the Alaska border, to start his new life with his new father. This book tells the story of his lifetime in this area, growing up and doing whatever was necessary and available to survive and make a living in this remote wilderness area of British Columbia, Canada. He talks about the many adventures he and his brother Paul had, the near death experiences they had on more than one occasion, and such things as the carving out of the town of Prince Rupert from the raw wilderness in 1907-08 as the terminus of a railroad and transshipment point of goods to Asia and beyond.
I have had the opportunity to visit this area on a handful of occasions and it still exhibits many of the wilderness traits described and experienced by Walter Wicks. The port of Prince Rupert has recently had recently undergone considerable expansion and plays a very important part in the shipment of coal from northeast BC and grain from other parts of Canada to Asia and other parts of the world.
Seattle Noir. Colbert, Curt. Editor. 2009. Akashic Books, New York. ISBN-13: 978-1-933354-80-4.
This book is part of the Akashic Noir Series that features short stories set in an around Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. It contains 14 short stories by 14 authors that cover a variety of themes and plots.
Seattle is approximately 3 hours south of Vancouver, BC, Canada where I live by car, and I have had occasion to visit the city on many occasions. These stories provide descriptions of some the areas of the city I know and of many of the areas that I don't.
Soldiers of Reason. The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire. Abella, Alex. 2008. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Orlando, Florida, USA. ISBN: 978-0-15-101081-3.
This is the first history to be written about the RAND Corporation, the secretive think tank that was born in the wake of World War II as a factory of ideas designed to advise the US Air Force on how to wage and win wars that has been the driving force behind American government for the last half century. RAND has been a magnet for the best and the brightest and became the creator of America's nuclear strategy in the struggle against the Soviets in the Cold War, gave rise to McNamara's Whiz Kids and the theories of rational warfare that steered the US's conduct in the Vietnam War and more recently the invasion of Iraq, and rational choice theory - a model which attempts to explain all human behaviour through self-interest, among others.
Tears of the Cheetah and Other Tales From the Genetic Frontier. O'Brien, Stephen J. 2003. St. Martin's Press, New York, New York. ISBN 0-312-27286-3.
Stephen J. O'Brien is a medical geneticist and conservationist. In this book, O'Brien chronicles and explores the genetics behind life and death of many animals of the world, including humans, and the scientific methods and breakthroughs that have helped to unravel the genetic reasons why some have survived and other haven't and the modern day implications. Tears of a Cheetah offers a fascinating glimpse of the insight gained when geneticists venture into the wild.
Those Lake People. Stories of Cowichan Lake. Bowen, Lynne. 1995. Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, BC, Canada. ISBN 1-55054-464-0.
Cowichan Lake is locating on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It is 26 miles long and has been the focus of attention for First Nations for eons and for European settlers since the latter half of the 1800s. It has been home to trappers, prospectors, cougar hunters and remittance men, and a favourite holiday destination for dukes and duchesses (including Archduke Ferdinand), Hollywood actresses and New York tycoons, and a selection of eccentrics. It has been the site of intensive logging that until quite recently was the mainstay of the economy. Most recently, it has been rediscovered as a holiday and retirement destination as the last of the big trees have been logged.
This is a story of the history of Cowichan Lake that draws on a rich mix of letters, memoirs, and interviews of those from the area by the author.
I grew up on Vancouver Island and had the opportunity to revisit this area in May of 2009, twice. Once to spend a few days camping and exploring the Walbran Valley, which is one of the last remaining unlogged old growth watersheds/ecosystems on Vancouver Island, and once to bicycle part of the bed of the former railway that went from Victoria to Cowichan Lake, which is now a recreation trail for bikers and hikers. The village of Cowichan Lake is the western terminus of the Trans Canada Trail.
The Slocan. Portrait of a Valley. Gordon, Katherine. 2004. Sono Nis Press, Winlaw, BC, Canada. ISBN: 1055039-145-3.
The Slocan Valley is located in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and has had a varied history of First Nations use and settlement, prospectors and miners, loggers, and artists, back-to-the-earth practitioners, and contentious objectors to the Vietnam War and to a much lesser extent the Iraq War from the United States; and, has experienced the boom and bust nature of these types of activities. The people of the Slocan Valley are fiercely independent and do not hesitate to resist unwanted outside influences on their valley. The Slocan Valley is one of many beautiful and special places to be found in this part of the province. I've visited this part of the province a few times and it does have a special feel that is not found elsewhere.