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KLASSEN ON BOOKS - March 2015 - By John Klassen (Reviews)


John Klassen


Gary Shteyngart

Shteyngart was born in Leningrad (1972) and moved to the USA at the age of seven.  His novels, which have received various awards, include The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010); he published a memoir, Little Failure (2014).

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KLASSEN ON BOOKS - February 2015 - By John Klassen (reviews)


John Klassen

Elena Ferrante

Ferrante is an interesting person and a terrific writer.  She is the author of seven novels over 20 years.  She is very popular in Europe and increasingly so in North America, but she maintains a strict anonymity.  She has given interviews only in writing, and has provided a bare minimum of personal information:  she is from Naples, she is a mother.

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UNE COMEDIE FAMILIALE Par Marie-Rose Simon (Critique de livre)

mr july 2017

Marie-Rose Simon

Une Comédie familiale de Isabelle Hausser

Editions de Fallois
Paris 2003

Un ex-diplomate français reconverti en directeur européen d’une multinationale et affecté à Bruxelles, Rachel, 48 ans va vivre entre mari, fils, père et tante, une année de transformations profondes, personnelle et familiales.

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THE CRISIS OF ISLAM/WHAT WENT WRONG By Richard Belliveau (Book Review)


belliveau july 24 2017

Richard Belliveau


Book Review

The Crisis of Islam
Bernard Lewis
(Modern Library 2003)

What Went Wrong
Bernard Lewis
(Oxford University Press, 2002)

In recent years, an understanding of the nature of Islam has become increasingly important in the everyday lives of North Americans and western Europeans, not only because of Al-Qaeda terrorist activities in the name of Islam, but also because our pluralist societies are increasingly poly-cultural as well as multi-racial. We saw recently in Ontario how a proposed role for Shari’ a law tribunals in relation to civil courts caused a mini-crisis in government.

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AUSCHWITZ REPORT By John Klassen (Book Review)


Report by Primo Levi and Leonardo de Benedetti.

This report was commissioned by Soviet authorities as a description of life in the camp, and it is the first thing that Levi wrote about his experience in Auschwitz.  The Report describes the transport by train for four days from Italy, general life in the camp, and perhaps because Benedetti was a medical doctor, much of the short piece focuses on medical conditions and illnesses.  One can clearly see information and incidents that Levi expanded upon in his later books about the camp and life afterwards.  Levi and Benedetti survived the camp together, made their way back to Italy through a long and tortuous route, and remained life-long friends.

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HARD PASSAGE By Pierre Beemans (Book Review)


pierres photo

Pierre Beemans

Hard Passage, by Arthur Kroeger

University of Alberta Press, Edmonton, 2007. 269 pp.

 There are several good reasons to head down to the library (or the bookstore) to pick up a copy of this book, especially if you are a former civil servant in Ottawa. 

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WINTER IN FIRELAND By Nick Coghlan reviewed by Paul Durand


A Patagonian sailing adventure

I first became a fan of Nick Coghlan’s writing when reading his dispatches from our embassy in Colombia in the late nineties. In these reports, he combined the two qualities that make “Winter in Fireland” a gripping read – an irrepressible spirit of adventure which took him into the most daunting situations, and an ability to describe his experiences in lucid prose. This book, following on his previous publications about Colombia and Sudan, places him solidly in the company of the best travel writers - those hardy souls who have explored the world’s nether regions and lived to tell the tale.

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A SEASON IN HELL By Robert Fowler reviewed by Paul Durand






Paul Durand


Robert Fowler has written a unique account of what it is to be a captive of Al Queda. Unique, because Fowler is the highest-level representative of western governments ever to be taken by Al Queda. Also, because his background as a diplomat, senior government official and UN representative was precisely keyed to the menace of islamist terrorism; he knows his subject.

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