July–August 2014

From the time World War II ended until the beginning of the Harper era, Canada’s military slowly shrunk and eroded in terms of size, resources, reputation and clout. The accepted belief is that this all happened because of an anti-military bias in civilian governments. A new book, A National Force: The Evolution of Canada’s Army, 1950-2000 by Peter Kasurak, demonstrates that the recalcitrance of military leaders was as much to blame as the agenda of civilian politicians. As our reviewer Philip Lagasse describes it, “…the army exhibited a failure of professionalism and a refusal to accept that the military must be subordinate to ministers.”

Looking further back, to the end of World War I, Sarah Jennings takes readers on a tour of the War Graves Commission cemeteries, found all over the world but primarily in France and Belgium, commemorating the Imperial and later Commonwealth soldiers who died in battle. Jennings takes us through the political and bureaucratic tussles, the aesthetics and the controversies that dogged this vast idealistic effort.

The utopians versus the curmudgeons: that’s how reviewer Chad Kohalyk characterizes the opposing sides in the loquacious tug-of-war over the positive and negative values of the Internet, as they play out in Astra Taylor‘s challenging new book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. While Taylor concentrates on artistic and journalistic endeavour as socially valuable labour, Kohalyk believes that software designers need to be included in the discussion as well, particularly in regards to online ethics.

A hot ethical topic this season has been Bill C-36, still fighting its way through Parliament, on the future of prostitution in Canada. We have a timely review by Amber Dawn, a Vancouver-based author with experience in sex work, of a collection of essays titled Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy and Research on Sex Work in Canada. Dawn’s essential takeaway? Nothing about us without us. In other words, listen to the sex workers.

One more month to enjoy great summer reading!

Bronwyn Drainie