The fall season sees the launch of some highly-anticipated new reads, including a handful of new releases from our acclaimed speakers. These fresh books cover a range of topics and are already receiving plenty of buzz. Here’s some more info on some of the most-talked about fall releases*:
Newly released in advance of this fall’s election, in What’s Happened to Politics?, Canadians finally get a definitive account of some of the problems plaguing their national politics. Touching on everything from polling to issues of social justice to the way in which political parties package their candidates, Rae identifies the shortcomings of the current Canadian political framework, and what we as citizens, can do to remedy that. With remarkable insight and startling accuracy, Rae speaks as the voice of reason as he imagines a political forum where citizens are inspired to participate instead of feeling disenfranchised. Filled with real-world examples and told from the point of view of an experienced statesman, What’s Happened to Politics? is necessary reading for every Canadian, regardless of their political affiliation. Erudite, engaged, and keenly attuned to the frustrations expressed by Canadians across the political spectrum, Rae shows why he is the leading voice on Canadian politics.
“In a time of economic, political, and social uncertainty, Canadians must ask themselves if the messages being marketed to them reflect what they need to know or just what their elected representatives are willing to tell them. Politics is not simply a game for politicians in which citizens observe from the sidelines. The waging of permanent campaigns, with their rote messaging and endless spending, means that we are all more impacted by and tied into the political process than ever before. But how do we observe and engage with what is an increasingly opaque institution? By looking past the packaging of their politicians to examine the content of the product, Canadians can stake a renewed claim in this changing political landscape and spur those who are supposed to work on their behalf from simply acting into something approaching authenticity.”
Non Fiction, Release Date: August 25, 2015
Jody Mitic | Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper
Elite sniper Jody Mitic loved being a soldier. His raw, candid, and engrossing memoir follows his personal journey into the Canadian military, through sniper training, and firefights in Afghanistan, culminating on the fateful night when he stepped on a landmine and lost both of his legs below the knees.
“And that’s when I made a big decision for myself, one that was finally a step in the right direction, one that was the first step down a path that would lead me to a military career.
“I want to join the army, the militia. It won’t interfere with school, Mom. During the week I’ll be a student, and on the weekends I’ll be a soldier, a Weekend Warrior… but I need your consent.”
“Well, we all knew this day was coming,” my mother said.
I put a pen and the consent form into my mom’s hands. She signed the form.
The next hurdle was getting my high school transcript to hand in with the form. I had to borrow a loonie from my girlfriend to do so. “Really?” she said, handing me the coin. “I can’t believe I’m helping you get yourself killed.”
I laughed. “This is Canada,” I said. “When was the last time we went to war?”
When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who’d raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father’s traumatic childhood at residential school.
“My gaze turned to the earth. It had been two years since I was last here. I had strayed off the red road I had been taught to walk as a boy. I had turned my back on my father. I had hurt many people, including those closest to me.
As the son of a hereditary Chief, I had always known that I would someday rise to this rank. However, I assumed this day would come far in the future. Perhaps, after I had achieved something great. Instead, it came as I was at one of my lowest ebbs.
My community, my family and my father responded by giving me a second chance. That which was broken, they tried to make whole once again.
That day, more than a decade ago, marked a passing of the torch from Ndede – my father – to me. It was not the only time that he would pass something to me which I would commit to carry forward into the future.
In the last year of his life, my father would embark on a remarkable journey of hope, healing and, eventually, forgiveness.”
Non Fiction, Release Date: September 29, 2015
Management & Leadership:
Dan Gardner | Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
In Superforecasting, Dan Gardner and coauthor Philip Tetlock offer a masterwork on prediction, drawing on decades of research and the results of a massive, government-funded forecasting tournament. The Good Judgment Project involves tens of thousands of ordinary people–including a Brooklyn filmmaker, a retired pipe installer, and a former ballroom dancer–who set out to forecast global events. Some of the volunteers have turned out to be astonishingly good. They’ve beaten other benchmarks, competitors, and prediction markets. They’ve even beaten the collective judgment of intelligence analysts with access to classified information. They are the “superforecasters.”
With his gray beard, thinning hair, and glasses, Doug Lorch doesn’t look like a threat to anyone. He looks like a computer programmer, which he was, for IBM. He is retired now. He lives in a quiet neighborhood in Santa Barbara with his wife, an artist who paints lovely watercolors. His Facebook avatar is a duck. Doug likes to drive his little red convertible Miata around the sunny streets, enjoying the California breeze, but that can only occupy so many hours in the day. Doug has no special expertise in international affairs, but he has a healthy curiosity about what’s happening. He reads The New York Times. He can find Kazakhstan on a map. So he volunteered for the Good Judgment Project. Once a day, for an hour or so, his dining room table became his forecasting center, where he opened his laptop, read the news, and tried to anticipate the fate of the world.
In the first year, Doug answered 104 questions like “Will Serbia be officially granted European Union candidacy by 31 December 2011?” and “Will the London Gold Market Fixing price of gold (USD per ounce) exceed $1,850 on 30 September 2011?” That’s a lot of forecasting, but it understates what Doug did.
Doug’s accuracy was as impressive as his volume. At the end of the first year, Doug’s overall Brier score was 0.22, putting him in fifth spot among the 2,800 competitors in the Good Judgment Project. Remember that the Brier score measures the gap between forecasts and reality, where 2.0 is the result if your forecasts are the perfect opposite of reality, 0.5 is what you would get by random guessing, and 0 is the center of the bull’s-eye. So 0.22 is prima facie impressive, given the difficulty of the questions. Consider this one, which was first asked on January 9, 2011: “Will Italy restructure or default on its debt by 31 December 2011?” We now know the correct answer is no. To get a 0.22, Doug’s average judgment across the eleven-month duration of the question had to be no at roughly 68% confidence—not bad given the wave of financial panics rocking the eurozone during this period. And Doug had to be that accurate, on average, on all the questions.
From the earliest explorers on the Columbia River in BC or the Mattawa in Ontario to a doomed expedition of voyageurs up the Nile to rescue Khartoum; from the author’s family roots deep in the Algonquin wilderness to modern families who have canoed across the country (kids and dogs included): Canoe Country is Roy MacGregor’s celebration of the essential and enduring love affair Canadians have with our first and still favourite means of getting around. Famous paddlers have been so enchanted with the canoe that one swore God made Canada as the perfect country in which to paddle it. Drawing on MacGregor’s own decades spent whenever possible with a paddle in his hand, this is a story of high adventure on white water and the sweetest peace in nature’s quietest corners, from the author best able (and most eager) to tell it.
Non Fiction, Release Date: September 8, 2015