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Discursive works

  • Auteur:
    Somerville, Margaret
    Sommaire:

    Science and technology force us to ask some of the most challenging and unprecedented ethical questions in the world today. These issues encompass what it means to be human, how we relate to others and our world, and how we find meaning in life. How we can find a shared ethics for an interdependent world? In her 2006 CBC Massey Lectures, ethicist and McGill University professor Margaret Somerville tackles some of the most contentious issues of our times, and proposes a brilliant new kind of ethical language and thought to help us navigate them.

  • Auteur:
    K., Nora
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    Eleven-year-old Nora K. received Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World as a birthday present, and in it she read about Plato’s theory of ideas. One problem especially intrigued her: What about the platonic idea of the dinosaur? Ideas are timeless and cannot die. The dinosaurs, however, became extinct ages ago. Does the idea of the dinosaur still exist all the same? Could it even be that the material world is a dream and time an illusion? Moreover, is there such a thing as free will, or is everything predetermined? Is the soul eternal? Do animals have a consciousness? Is the universe infinite? Is there such a thing as objective truth? Does God exist, and why is there evil in the world?

    These are some of Nora’s questions which prompted her correspondence with Vittorio Hösle, a philosopher by profession, who invents a wonderful philosophical fantasy. Taking the film Dead Poets Society as his inspiration, he creates a place where the great philosophers of antiquity and their modern successors can all meet. They gather in the “Café of the Dead but Ever Young Philosophers” and discuss Nora’s letters—Parmenides and Socrates, Descartes and Hobbes (whom Nora doesn’t like at all), “Mac” (Machiavelli) and Kant, Nora’s “patron philosopher” Giambattista Vico and Hans Jonas, and many others. The sparks fly from time to time, as the great thinkers squabble quite frequently—no wonder, since conflicting arguments from the entire history of philosophy collide with each other head-on.

    Nora’s letters are intelligent, never precocious, and always imaginative. Vittorio Hösle provides answers which are entertaining but still critical, and he is clearly concerned about not setting his expectations of the child too low. In his afterword on children’s philosophy and philosophy with children, he sketches what role philosophy could play in raising children. The correspondence with Nora, an authentic exchange of letters between January 1994 and January 1996, is a lovely document of a philosophical friendship between an adult and a child.

  • Auteur:
    Saul, John Ralston
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    Once again, John Ralston Saul presents the story of Canada's past so that we may better understand its present -- and imagine a better future. Historic moments are always uncomfortable, Saul writes in this impassioned argument, calling on all of us to embrace and support the comeback of Aboriginal peoples. This, he says, is the great issue of our time -- the most important missing piece in the building of Canada. The events that began late in 2012 with the Idle No More movement were not just a rough patch in Aboriginal relations with the rest of Canada. What is happening today between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals is not about guilt or sympathy or failure or romanticization of the past. It is about citizens' rights. It is about rebuilding relationships that were central to the creation of Canada. These relationships are just as important to its continued existence. The centrality of Aboriginal issues and peoples has the potential to open up a more creative way of imagining ourselves and a more honest narrative for Canada. Wide in scope but piercing in detail, The Comeback presents a powerful portrait of modern Aboriginal life in Canada, in contrast with the perceived failings so often portrayed in politics and in media. Saul illustrates his arguments by compiling a remarkable selection of letters, speeches and writings by Aboriginal leaders and thinkers, showcasing the extraordinarily rich, moving and stable indigenous point of view across the centuries.

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    Following the Supreme Court ruling in 1954 striking down the "separate but equal" doctrine, a decade and a half of civil turbulence existed. Civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change. This product tells a part of that historic time with speeches from many of those attempting to achieve racial equality.

  • Auteur:
    Manguel, Alberto
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    In the 2007 CBC Massey Lectures, Alberto Manguel leads us back into our literary tradition to find insight about one of the most contentious issues of our time: the rise of ethnic nationalism. The end of ethnic nationalism -- building societies around sets of common values -- seems like a good idea. But something is going wrong. Manguel suggests we should look at what stories have to teach us about society. With wit and erudition, Manguel looks at what visionaries, poets, novelists, essayists, and filmmakers have to say about building societies. From Cassandra to Jack London, the Epic of Gilgamesh to the computer Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Don Quixote to Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, Manguel draws fascinating and revelatory parallels between the personal and political realities of our present-day world and those of myth, legend, and story.

  • Auteur:
    Patterson, Steve
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    Steve Patterson's The Book of Letters I Didn't Know Where to Send is a collection of — wait for it — letters, written by award-winning stand-up comedian — you guessed it — Steve Patterson. The host of CBC Radio's The Debaters since 2007, Steve Patterson has become a household name, with more than 700,000 listeners tuning in each week. He has performed at several of the Just for Laughs prestigious televised galas, including one hosted by Steve Martin. Considered to be the highlight of the show by the audience and critics alike, Patterson's performance prompted the legendary Martin to quip, "If I'd known he was going to be THAT good, I would have cancelled him." Patterson's letters, long a staple of his stand-up comedy routine, address a number of recipients, from real people, to groups, to inanimate objects and concepts. He airs grievances, offers support or creates just plain confusion in unplainly humorous prose. From the political to the personal, from the philosophical to the mundane, no subject — or target — is off limits. Patterson's letters may not change the world, but frankly, it's too early to tell. In these letters, he pleads, begs, cajoles, grovels, and always makes a compelling argument. He would like men to stop wearing Spandex bike shorts. He would like airlines to stop selling seats they don't have. He would like gluten to explain itself. He would like his nine-year-old self to know everything will be all right . . .

  • Auteur:
    Wachtel, Eleanor
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    Eleanor Wachtel is one of the English-speaking world's most respected and sought-after interviewers. This book, celebrating her show's 25 year anniversary, presents many of her best conversations from the show with authors including Jonathan Franzen, Alice Munro, Hilary Mantel, J.M. Coetzee, Zadie Smith, W.G. Sebald, Toni Morrison, Seamus Heaney, and nearly a dozen others who share their views on process, the writing life, and the hazards of literary fame. By turns humorous, insightful, empathetic and profound, this gathering will help to cement Eleanor Wachtel's reputation as one of the leading interviewers of her time.

  • Auteur:
    Rae, John, McGoogan, Ken
    Sommaire:

    Scottish doctor and explorer John Rae is a controversial figure in the history of the Arctic. He began his career with the Hudson's Bay Company as a surgeon in Moose Factory, Ontario, where he learned to survey, live off the land, and travel great distances on snowshoes. These skills served him well when, in 1846, he was charged with completing the geography of the northern shore of North America and set out on his first expedition. Some years later, while exploring the Boothia Peninsula in 1854, Rae obtained information about the rather shocking fate of the Franklin expedition, which had been missing since 1845. Upon his return to England, however, Rae was discredited by Charles Dickens and shunned by the British establishment, never receiving proper recognition for his roles in finding the Northwest Passage and discovering the fate of Franklin and his crew. The Arctic Journals of John Rae is the definitive collection of John Rae's writings, from his only published work, Narrative of an Expedition to the Shores of the Arctic Sea in 1846 and 1847, to obscure notes and journals and reports of his controversial findings in 1854. An accomplished explorer who had great respect for the customs and skills of the peoples native to the Arctic, John Rae is a fascinating figure and an important part of the history of the North.

  • Auteur:
    Bissoondath, Neil
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    Stories shape the world, imposing order on chaos, and the stories we tell declare: I exist. Neil Bissoondath presses these assertions about narrative further. Stories are also, he says, forms of confession. Each time we tell a story, we reveal a little about our experiences, dreams, fears, desires, and fantasies. Unlike governments, which try to control and simplify narrative, fiction writers use narrative expansively, for exploration and discovery. Questions are numerous; answers are rare. Fiction is confessional; born of the writer's own visions, terrors, and obsessions, it is unique in its ability to affirm human existence and confirm human complexity. The Age of Confession is the first Northrop Frye-Antonine Maillet Lecture, sponsored by the Université de Moncton. It was presented on April 29, 2006, in Moncton, New Brunswick, during the Northrop Frye International Literary Festival.

  • Auteur:
    Guo, Winona
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    An eye-opening exploration of race in America In this deeply inspiring book, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. Spurred by the realization that they had nearly completed high school without hearing any substantive discussion about racism in school, the two young women deferred college admission for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country every day-and often in unexpected ways. In Tell Me Who You Are, Guo and Vulchi reveal the lines that separate us based on race or other perceived differences and how telling our stories-and listening deeply to the stories of others-are the first and most crucial steps we can take towards negating racial inequity in our culture. Featuring interviews with over 150 Americans accompanied by their photographs, this intimate toolkit also offers a deep examination of the seeds of racism and strategies for effecting change. This groundbreaking book will inspire readers to join Guo and Vulchi in imagining an America in which we can fully understand and appreciate who we are.

  • Auteur:
    Varoufakis, Yanis
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    In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics. Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts, and countless students around the world. Now, he faces his most important-and difficult-audience yet. Using clear language and vivid examples, Varoufakis offers a series of letters to his young daughter about the economy: how it operates, where it came from, how it benefits some while impoverishing others. Taking bankers and politicians to task, he explains the historical origins of inequality among and within nations, questions the pervasive notion that everything has its price, and shows why economic instability is a chronic risk. Finally, he discusses the inability of market-driven policies to address the rapidly declining health of the planet his daughter's generation stands to inherit. Throughout this audiobook, Varoufakis wears his expertise lightly. He writes as a parent whose aim is to instruct his daughter on the fundamental questions of our age-and through that knowledge, to equip her against the failures and obfuscations of our current system and point the way toward a more democratic alternative.

  • Auteur:
    Nelson, Dean
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    To many journalists, the perfect interview seems more like luck than skill, but it's actually the result of careful planning and good habits. Let Dean Nelson show you how to nail it every time.

  • Auteur:
    Berg, Elizabeth
    Sommaire:

    Still Happy is Elizabeth's second collection of Facebook posts. Her first, Make Someone Happy, did indeed make many people happy, and so, due to popular demand, she has put together a second volume, which includes "The Book of Homer," a tribute to her beloved dog who recently died. Still Happy, like Make Someone Happy, exemplifies Berg's gift, as the Boston Globe said, "in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday."

  • Auteur:
    Toman, Cynthia
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    In Sister Soldiers of the Great War, award-winning author Cynthia Toman recovers the long-lost history of Canada’s first women soldiers – nursing sisters who enlisted as officers with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. The nursing sisters had a mandate to salvage as many sick and wounded men as possible for return to the front lines. Nothing prepared them, however, for the poor living conditions, the scale of the casualties, or the type of wounds they encountered. But their letters and diaries reveal that they were determined to soldier on under all circumstances while still “living as well as possible.”

  • Auteur:
    Johnston, Mike
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    Simply the Best delivers rare insights on success straight from the hearts and minds of winning coaches Scotty Bowman, Marc Crawford, Jacques Demers, Clare Drake, Ken Hitchcock, Mike Keenan, Dave King, George Kingston, Andy Murray, Rodger Neilson, Pat Quinn and Brian Sutter. These world-renowned hockey visionaries, recognized as some of the greatest coaches in the game, talk about what it takes to be a champion and the strategies that have made them successful.

  • Auteur:
    Papandreou, George, Gingrich, Newt, Laffer, Arthur, Krugman, Paul
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    As middle-class incomes stagnate in advanced economies while the rich experience record income gains, the eleventh semi-annual Munk Debate pits wealth redistribution supporters Paul Krugman and George Papandreou against Newt Gingrich and Arthur Laffer to debate taxation — should the rich pay more?
For some the answer is obvious: redistribute the wealth of the top income earners who have enjoyed, for almost a generation, the lion’s share of all income gains. Imposing higher taxes on the wealthy is the best way for countries such as Canada to reinvest in their social safety nets, education, and infrastructure while protecting the middle class. Others argue that anemic economic growth, not income inequality, is the real problem facing advanced countries. In a globalized economy, raising taxes on society’s wealth creators leads to capital flight, falling government revenues, and less money for the poor. These same voices contend that lowering taxes on everyone stimulates innovation and investment, fuelling future prosperity.
In this edition of the Munk Debates — Canada’s premier international debate series — Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman and former Prime Minster of Greece George Papandreou square off against former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and famed economist Arthur Laffer to debate if the rich should bear the brunt of higher taxes.
For the first time ever, this stimulating debate, which will take place in front of a sold-out audience, will be available in print. With advanced countries facing overextended social services, crumbling infrastructure, and sluggish economic growth, the Munk Debate on economic inequality tackles the essential public policy issue: Should we tax the rich more?

  • Auteur:
    Cohen, Stephen F., Pozner, Vladimir, Applebaum, Anne, Kasparov, Garry
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    How should the West deal with Putin’s Russia? For the U.S. and some European powers the answer is obvious: isolate Russia with punishing economic sanctions, remove it from global institutions such as the G8, and arm the nations directly threatened by Putin. In short, return to the Cold War doctrine that froze Soviet aggression in Europe and helped bring about the collapse of communist Russia. Others argue that such a policy is a dead end. Putin’s Russia has legitimate grievances against Western and NATO powers meddling in its sphere of influence. Instead of further antagonizing Putin and risking a dangerous escalation of the current conflict, the U.S. and Europe should seek common cause with Russia to address shared threats, from the Middle East to Asia to combatting terrorism.In the fifteenth semi-annual Munk Debate, acclaimed academic Stephen F. Cohen and veteran journalist and bestselling author Vladimir Poznar square off against internationally renowned expert on Russian history Anne Applebaum and Russian-born political dissident Garry Kasparov to debate the future of the West’s relationship with Russia.

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    Say It Plain is a vivid, moving portrait of how black Americans have sounded the charge against injustice, exhorting the country to live up to its democratic principles. In "full-throated public oratory, the kind that can stir the soul" (Minneapolis Star Tribune), this unique anthology collects the transcribed speeches of the twentieth century's leading African American cultural, literary, and political figures, many of them never before available in printed form. From an 1895 speech by Booker T. Washington to Julian Bond's harp assessment of school segregation on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board in 2004, the collection captures a powerful tradition of oratory-by political activists, civil rights organizers, celebrities, and religious leaders-going back more than a century. The paperback edition includes the text of each speech along with an introduction placing it in its historical context. Say It Plain is a remarkable historical record-from the back-to-Africa movement to the civil rights era and the rise of black nationalism and beyond-riveting in its power to convey the black freedom struggle.

  • Auteur:
    Kennedy, Robert F.
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    In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Robert Francis Kennedy's death, an inspiring collection of his most famous speeches accompanied by commentary from notable historians and public figures. Twenty-five years after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, RFK: His Words for Our Times, a celebration of Kennedy's life and legacy, was published to enormous acclaim. Now, a quarter century later, this classic volume has been thoroughly edited and updated. Through his own words we get a direct and intimate perspective on Kennedy's views on civil rights, social justice, the war in Vietnam, foreign policy, the desirability of peace, the need to eliminate poverty, and the role of hope in American politics. Here, too, is evidence of the impact of those he knew and worked with, including his brother John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez, among others. The tightly curated collection also includes commentary about RFK's legacy from major historians and public figures, among them Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Eric Garcetti, William Manchester, Anna Quindlen, Elie Wiesel, and Desmond Tutu. Assembled with the full cooperation of the Kennedy family, RFK: His Words for Our Times is a potent reminder of Robert Kennedy's ability to imagine a greater America-a faith and vision we could use today.

  • Auteur:
    Wachtel, Eleanor
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    A great conversation can offer insight into the hearts and minds of its participants. In this intimate, wide-ranging collection of conversations (and some correspondence), writer-broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel and her friend, author Carol Shields, touch on both the personal and the professional. Eleanor Wachtel first met Carol Shields in 1980; her first interview with Carol occurred in 1987, following the publication of Swann: A Mystery. They soon became friends, embarking on a correspnodence and conversations that would last her almost two decades. In this illuminating book, Eleanor Wachtel brings together her rich collection of interviews with Carol from that first occasion to Shields's death in 2003. Disarmingly direct, Carol Shields talks about her writing, language and consciousness, and her interest in "redeeming the lives of lost or vanished women," all the while touching on topics as diverse as feminism, raising children, the metaphorical search for a home, and the joys and griefs of everyday life. Carol Shields is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Stone Diaries. She also won the Governor General's Award for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, the Orange Prize, and numerous other awards. She was twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

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