This morning I was privileged to be a guest on CBC’s Radio One’s Information Morning program. Myself and journalism professor Stephen Kimber were invited on air to discuss a few notable non-fiction titles of 2010 with host Don Connolly.
Here are the titles I discussed:
Cleopatra: a life
by Stacey Schiff
A top notch biographer delves in to the amazing life of Cleopatra. Schiff dispels many of the myths and over generalizations that persist about Cleopatra. In the process, Cleopatra is revealed to be an incredibly intelligent, charismatic and resourceful leader. One who was the most powerful woman of her time, if not of all time. This book also excels in the descriptions of Alexandra and the lavish lifestyle afforded to those at the top of Egyptian society. A great choice for fans of celebrity biography and/or historical fiction.
The Tiger: a true story of vengeance and survival
by John Vaillant
A great example of adrenaline non-fiction. This story will keep readers on the edge of their seats. A true story of a man eating Siberian tiger, one who was particularly nasty and cunning tiger. Russian wildlife officer Yuri Trusk has been dispatched to the far East of Russia to sort out this tiger problem. Yuri is as impressive in his power and cunning as is the tiger. An epic battle of courage and wits follows.
Vaillant, who wrote the award winning book The Golden Spruce, is a very good writer. Similar to Simon Winchester, he is adroit at fleshing out the context of the story, whether it is adding cultural, geographic or socio-political insights, he is able to enhance the story without getting too sidetracked in the details.
Globish: how the English language became the world’s language
by Robert McCrum
A loving meditation on the English language: where it came from, where it is and where it is likely to end up. McCrum is a passionate scholar and advocate for the English language. He makes an interesting point that English is poised to become World’s the dominant language. Due to several coinciding factors: such as the collapse of communism; the success of Western capitalism; and the explosive growth of the Internet, allowed English to be entrenched globally.
His theory is not without its critics, but the case he makes is a good one and it is an enjoyable reading experience to hear him wax so poetically about English and it’s likely offspring of Globish.
Underground Nova Scotia: stories of archaeology
edited by Jonathan Fowler and Paul Erickson.
An intriguing collection of essays by local archaeologists and students highlighting the “world class” archaeological work being done in the province. Readers will learn about early Mi’kmaq settlements, ancient portage routes, skeletons in the cellar at Louisburg and so on. A great choice for fans of local history and/or archaeology.
Stephen Kimber discussed the following titles:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
The Hermit of Africville: the life of Eddie Carvery
by Jon Tattrie
Zoo Story: life in the garden of captives
by Thomas French