Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lawrence Martin, "Harperland: The Politics of Power" (2009)

This is, frankly, a brilliant book. It concisely, clearly, and objectively documents the egregious excesses and shameful machinations of the Harper neo-Tories. It should be required reading for every Canadian voter before the next election.

I expect that Harper supporters will claim: 'ah, but it is such a biased account! The Liberals were guilty of all the same sorts of ploys.' That may be so, and Martin as well as others (including Canadian voters) have skewered them for those. The Harper minority governments have been in place longer than Pearson's minority governments, and it is time that they be held to the higher standards of Canadians' ideal government, rather than copping out with the excuse of not being any worse than the previous regime.

I think Peter Newman's review of the book in the Globe and Mail is quite fair.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Richard J. Evans,"The Third Reich At War" (2007)

The third book by Evans in a trilogy tracking the rise and decline of the Third Reich.

About 30% of the way in, I thought that this is the best of the three books. Evans spends a significant amount of time dealing with the development of discrimination and extermination policies (focusing on persecution of Jews and the handicapped). He makes a strong effort to show that Hitler did indeed know about the concentration camps and mass exterminations (countering the claims of revisionists who challenge that the policies were approved from on high - as if much could have happened in the Reich without the state apparatus being apprised of it...).

Unfortunately, by the time he is halfway through the book, he seems to have lost the ability to offer many new insights regarding the military practices and fortunes of Grosdeutschland. For those hoping to understand the basic outline of how the Reich waged war, and where these efforts fell short, it provides a solid overview. Unlike the previous two volumes, and unlike the early chapters of this book, however, I rarely came away from reading feeling that I had learned something new or had read a particularly fresh and convincing approach to old arguments. In this respect, I think Adam Tooze's book on the economics of the Third Reich did a far better job at some of what Evans attempted in this volume.

For discussion of the first two volumes, see earlier posts:
- The Third Reich in Power
- The Coming of the Third Reich