(july 18, 2008)
with extra time on my hands, i have been doing a lot of reading and am happy to report i have two big thumbs-up recommendations.
the first is a book that i had heard a lot about, but was always turned off because of its title, is Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. it is a book that answers a lot of questions i have always had about why countries like canada were colonised but countries in europe were the colonisers and why certain technological advancements have never taken hold in sub-saharan africa. it is a non-academic academic book that tells the scientific story of how guns, germs, and steel (and other fascinating things like plant and animal domestication)dictated who colonised who and explains the current power distribution in the world.
if i had a critique, it would be that the book is too much about papau new guinea and the author’s own experiences and that it drags in places, especially where he goes over concepts he has already covered. but his day job is a uni professor, so i guess that is to be expected. i loved the first half of the book about plant and animal domestication (and now i know why no one bothered to domesticate zebras, which are EVERYWHERE in africa doing little else than eating and herding together) and how our fruit and vegetables became edible. a good read.
the second book on recommendation, although a quarter of the size of the first, is as difficult to read due to the setting and topic of the book. i had had this book on my To Read list for ages and finally found it on amazon.ca (thanks to my ma!) and brought it with me to germany. titled A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali and written by canadian author Gil Courtemarche and translated into english from its original french, it is a fictional account based on a journalist’s experience of the situation at the famed Hotel Milles Collines (Hotel Rwanda) during the genocide in 1994.
if i had to find a word to describe the feel of the writing it would be raw. but i think that it is warranted and as hard as parts are to read and as the author says in the preamble, the story is not wholly fabricated.
interestingly, the book also chronicles canadian involvement in rwanda before and during the genocide, Romeo Dallaire’s role in the conflict, and the lifestyle of the humanitarian aid workers in kigali. i always enjoy these accounts as they are close to home for me and my recent experience. this book deserves to be read.
my book pile is running low and soon i will have to dig into the soldier’s conspiracy theory books (...), does anyone have any reading recommendations? not having english book stores to peruse makes it tough to remember books i wanted to read to look up on amazon.