THIRD WORLD AMERICA: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream By Arianna Huffington, Crown, 276 pages, $26.99
Former conservative and now leftie impresario of Net darling The Huffington Post, Greek-born Arianna Huffington is one of the world's most influential women. And she sees her adopted country with its industrial base collapsing, its infrastructure in ruins, its financial system disgraced, its education system a mess, its jails fuller by the hour and, worst, a shrinking and increasingly panicked middle class. The American Dream becomes the American Nightmare as Americans - and can Canadians be far behind? - come to realize that their children will have fewer opportunities than they did. Huffington's solutions include promoting a green economy, turning away from rampant consumerism (block that mall!) and returning to the idea of community. Now let's see what the Tea Partiers have to say about that.
FOR PREGNANCY TESTERS
ORIGINS: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives By Annie Murphy Paul, Free Press, 306 pages, $29.99
People born in late summer or early fall tend to be taller and thicker-boned than those born at other times. Children in the womb when their mothers experienced 9/11 displayed the biological markers of post-traumatic stress. A depressed pregnant woman may predispose her baby to the same disorder; on the other hand, therapy for mum can be therapy for fetus. These are a few of the astonishing findings covered by science writer Annie Murphy Paul in this radical look at pregnancy as ground zero - make that ground minus nine - for the rest of our lives. Paul uses the occasion of her own second pregnancy to canvas those at the cutting edge of the relatively new science of fetal studies. There are profound implications here, many of them hopeful (forewarned is, as they say, forearmed), others dark and deterministic.
FOR OLD-TIME HOCKEY LOVERS
EDDIE SHORE AND THAT OLD TIME HOCKEY By C. Michael Hiam, McClelland & Stewart, 325 pages, $32.99
Before there was Bobby Orr, there was Eddie Shore. What Orr was to the Boston Bruins and the NHL of the 1960s and '70s, Shore was in the late 1920s and the '30s. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player four times and led the Bruins to two Stanley Cups. All this is chronicled by Boston writer Hiam in his celebration of, and attempt to resurrect, a fading legend (the book could have used a page of statistics). But what Hiam relishes as much is the unhelmeted recklessness Shore brought to the ice year after year. He frequently led the league in penalties, was generally feared and, most notoriously, ended the career, and nearly the life, of Toronto Maple Leafs star Ace Bailey with a vicious check from behind in 1933. Leaf fans with long memories will hate him still, but Shore makes Don Cherry look like a wuss.
FOR THOSE COPING WITH LIFE
THE FOUR WALLS OF MY FREEDOM By Donna Thomson, McArthur & Company, 263 pages, $29.95
Donna Thomson was a Montreal actor, director and teacher in 1988 when her son Nicholas born with cerebral palsy. Besides learning to deal with Nicholas's severe disabilities, Thomson was determined to maintain a life of value and dignity for herself and her family. Married to James Wright, currently High Commissioner for Canada in Britain, Thomson became an activist on disability issues, working with governments, communities and families, as well as dealing with the medical bureaucracy during Nicholas's various medical emergencies. Thomson's memoir is both instructive and inspirational, and last summer, the family celebrated Nicholas's 21st birthday.