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“1815 — The Roads to Waterloo” & “1918 — War and Peace” by Gregor Dallas (Pimlico, London)
Two outstanding historical accounts by Gregor Dallas, each focusing on pivotal years leading up to the construction of modern Europe. While 1815 ended intramural European empire building. 1918 finished off the feudal monarchy mentality. In itself, each book represents a profoundly scholarly tour de force covering its period’s highlights and key personalities, in a grandiose sweep. The author has a meticulous eye for detail, and a rich literary talent, which makes the narrative as engaging as a fine novel. Dallas is yet another prodigy in the great tradition of English historical writing — both trustworthy and enjoyable. MH

“The Stubbon Season” by Lauren B. Davis (Harper Collins, Toronto)
A fine novel in the great Canadian storytelling tradition, Lauren Davis’s voice is as authentic, compelling and deep as a Mordechai Richler or Robertson Davies at their best. This is the story of the Great Depression in Canada, as two young people who’ve had to shift for themselves, find each other and struggle to overcome the almost insurmountable difficulties of 1930s Canada — a world darkened by deep economic depression, and a looming world war. The Stubbon Season is tremendously evocative of a time when hardship wore very thin the veneer of civilization, bringing out both the best and the worst in people. A real literary achievement. MH

“Secret Trials and Executions” by Barbara Olshansky and the Center for Constitutional Rights (Seven Stories Press)
This book boldly confronts the controversial issues surrounding the US administration’s creation of special military tribunals to try non-citizens suspected of terrorism. “The sadness and sense of crisis that pervades us since September 11 of last year is undeniable,” says Olshansky. “But this fact doesn’t justify even a partial repeal of the Bill of Rights.” BR

en français...
Guide de survie de l’étudiant parisien by Valérie Duclos (Editions Parisgramme, Paris) Whether on a study-abroad program or fresh from Provence — the typical undergraduate in Paris, grapples with the same question. How does one survive on a student budget? This French language pocket guide fills you in on the secrets to living in the city while hitting the books. You’ll find insider tips on how to seek housing or a part-time job, as well as general information about scholarships, health care and, most important, the cheapest deals in town. Covering all kinds of topics — from clothes to eats — Duclos has looked into everything from university cafeterias to discounts. MW

“Les 200 premiers mots d’Anglais par l’image” by Corinne Touati Cohen-Coudar (Le Livre de Poche, Paris)
This small primer proposes a well organized approach to helping children grasp the major noun groupings and simplest verb concepts in English. For parents helping their progeny into a bilingual world — and, once the phonic skills are acquired — here’s a fun little book which will reinforce thebasic vocablulary kids need to set their reading recognition skills in motion. Though it revolves around the idea of encouraging young francophones to learn English — this is an equally handy book for EMT parents keen to boost their children’s English intake, and uptake. Enjoyably, of course...MH

Reviews by Marc Heberden, Marie Winfield & Bob Roberts