Book Reviews October 2021

The Keeper of Miracles

Phillip Maisel

MacMillan

RRP $37.99

 

Phillip Maisel was born in August 1922, in Vilna, Lithuania. When the Germans arrived there in 1941, Phillip’s life changed dramatically. He survived two years in a squalid, overcrowded Jewish ghetto, before enduring several Nazi labour and concentration camps. He was liberated in 1945 while on a Death March, and he moved to Australia in 1949. For more than 30 years, he has worked selflessly to record the harrowing stories of Holocaust survivors. Volunteering at Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre, Phillip has listened to their memories, and preserved their voices, earning him the nickname ‘The Keeper of Miracles’. A Holocaust survivor himself, he, too, has unthinkable stories of triumph and tragedy, cruelty and hope. Published as he turns 99, this deeply moving, healing and inspiring memoir shows us the cathartic power of storytelling, and reminds us never to underestimate the impact of human kindness.

 

Leading From the Stop

Elias Kanaris

Aviva

RRP $30

Elias Kanaris offers an insider’s view of what happened on 9/11, when the plane he was flying on was diverted, alongside another 37 planes, to Gander International Airport due to the terrorist acts in New York and Washington DC. What the passengers expected to be a short layover, turned into five days as they were hosted by the Salvation Army in Newfoundland, Canada. Through three lenses, Kanaris describes how the town grew from 9300 locals to 16,000 people needing to be housed and fed. He presents it from the viewpoints of the locals (fondly referred to as the ‘Newfies’), the United Airlines pilot and crew, and the other passengers. Whether you’re leading a multinational company or leading yourself, Kanaris offers leadership lessons learned from the people of Newfoundland, in the aftermath of 9/11. He takes us through the transition that he and other passengers had to make during this extraordinary time.

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Magic Beans: The Untold Story

Terrence Bull

Woo Publishing

RRP $35

Magic Beans takes you on a journey alongside young Jack, as a wealthy and wise old man teaches him the 12 ‘magic beans’ of business success. These will enable Jack to climb out of his bankrupt position and walk among the giants of industry. From there he can get back the passive income business (the goose that lays golden eggs) that was stolen from his father – he will be able to rebuild his family’s failed enterprise, but this time secure its future by building it on the right foundations. The reader is transported into an old-world setting beneath an ancient oak tree growing beside a bustling country market. The old man uses everyday scenes to teach Jack invaluable lessons on business success: from children playing in the road, to carts laden with packages, to a small bird visiting them as they sit under the tree.

 

Our Home in Myanmar

Jessica Mudditt


Hembury

RRP $34.95

After a whirlwind romance in Bangladesh, Australian journalist Jessica Mudditt and her Bangladeshi husband Sherpa arrived in Yangon in 2012 – just as the military junta was beginning to relax its ironclad grip on power. It was a high-risk atmosphere; a life riddled with chaos and confusion as much as it was with wonder and excitement. Jessica joined a small team of old-hand expat editors at The Myanmar Times, whose Burmese editor was still languishing in prison. Whether she was covering a speech by Aung San Suu Kyi, getting dangerously close to cobras, directing cover shoots with Burmese models, or scaling Bagan’s thousand-year-old temples, Jessica was entranced and challenged by a country undergoing rapid change. But as the historic elections of 2015 drew near, it became evident that the road to democracy was full of twists, turns and false starts. The couple was blindsided when a rise in militant Buddhism took a personal turn and challenged their belief that they had found a home in Myanmar. 

 

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1-Minute Gardener

Fabian Capomolla and Mat Pember

MacMillan

RRP $29.99

The Little Veggie Patch Co has taken the mystery out of – and put the fun back into – growing fruit and vegetables. No matter how much or how little space you have, whether it’s in the sprawling suburbs or an inner-city high rise, the Little Veggie Patch team will have you growing your own food in no time. 1-Minute Gardener features 60 illustrated step-by-step guides to edible gardening essentials, from preparing and caring for your patch, through to harvesting the rewards (and getting the kids involved along the way).

These handy how-to guides include: 

  • Choosing your location
  • Optimising your soil
  • The world’s easiest seedling incubator
  • Crop rotation no-brainers
  • How to fertilise in pots
  • Staking tomatoes like a pro
  • The right way to harvest herbs
  • Hand pollination for beginners
  • Easy-peasy trellising
  • Competitive snail hunting

 

Everybody

Olivia Laing

Macmillan

RRP $49.99

At a moment in which basic rights are once again imperilled, Olivia Laing conducts an ambitious investigation into the body and its discontents. She uses the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to chart a daring course through the struggle for bodily freedom, from gay rights and sexual liberation to feminism and the civil rights movement. Drawing on her experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and travelling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, she grapples with some of the most significant figures of the past century, among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag and Malcolm X. Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as automated as our own. Everybody is an examination of the forces arranged against freedom, and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world.

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