Friday, May 7, 2010

A VERY Brief Review of Black Snow: A Story of Love And Destruction, Jon Tattrie.

A local story by a local author, Black Snow takes the reader for a mesmerizing journey through the ravaged streets of Halifax in the moments and days immediately following the Halifax Explosion.

In less than 200 pages Tattrie weaves together the devastation of the aftermath of the explosion with a love story and the lives of a people who are indelibly marked by the effects of World War I.

On our journey from the flattened dockyard to the four corners of the Halifax Peninsula, Tattrie uses flashback to give the reader glimpses of a world that seems to be falling apart at the edges.

If there is a single positive lesson or moral that comes out of this tragic tale it is that bright moments – moments of life – come out of the double-edged sword of human contact and tenderness.

I liked it…a lot.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Brief Review of A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War, General Rick Hiller

Read it.

That’s the most clear and concise thing I can say after reading General Rick Hillier’s memoir.

Here’s why.

First and foremost, Hillier is a general in the truest sense of the word. The ancient Greek word for general, stratagem, refers to the ability to plan cleverly, and outwit. This book is an excellent example of the cleverness that exemplified Hillier’s military career. At the book signing I attended, General Hillier mentioned that his original intention was to write a book about leadership, but HarperCollins asked that he write a memoir first (a guaranteed money-maker) and then they would finance his project. A memoir is what he wrote, but the primary theme that flows through its pages?.....Leadership.

This book highlights one of the clearly stated ‘principles of leadership’ Hillier presents throughout the book; namely, “Never underestimate the soapbox you have.”

Other principles that I think are worth pulling out of the text are:

- “…while it can be difficult to lead [at]…times…, if you are adamant about doing what is right, as opposed to worrying about how your actions will look to superiors or others, you can get through it.”

- “…what the commander or boss is interested in, the staff, units or bureaucrats will be interested in.”

- “…the importance of recognizing people and rewarding them for a job well done.” (a lesson learned from his time at Fort Hood)

- “…to establish the kind of working relationships and the camaraderie that make everything work the way it’s supposed to.” (from in his preparation to command the Multinational Division Southwest in Bosnia)

And my favourite…

- “…everything we do is about people. It’s not about organization, structure, process or management: it’s people who accomplish things, and they need to be inspired, informed, enabled and supported.”


Most of the other reviews I’ve read have been positive and the only significant criticisms I’ve found are over whether Hillier’s descriptions of events significantly differ from how others saw them. To those critics I’d like to throw out one final guiding principle, “Perception is reality.”
If you want to know more….read it!