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True Stories

Get lost in the past with these biographies, memoirs, and history books.


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The Boys

- by Ron Howard

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"This extraordinary book is not only a chronicle of Ron's and Clint's early careers and their wild adventures, but also a primer on so many topics--how an actor prepares, how to survive as a kid working in Hollywood, and how to be the best parents in the world! The Boys will surprise every reader with its humanity."   -- Tom Hanks

"I have read dozens of Hollywood memoirs. But The Boys stands alone. A delightful, warm and fascinating story of a good life in show business."   -- Malcolm Gladwell

Happy DaysThe Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben--these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the '60s and '70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

"What was it like to grow up on TV?" Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity--but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success--Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor--the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint's teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector--sometimes over-protector--from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, THE BOYS is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers' closely held lives. It's the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived "child-actor syndrome" to become fulfilled adults.

Over the Boards (Signed Edition)

- by Hayley Wickenheiser

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The greatest women's hockey player of all time, Hayley Wickenheiser shares the lessons that won her four Olympic gold medals, and hard-earned wisdom distilled from moments when she fell short.

There is no one in the world like Hayley Wickenheiser.

13 World Championship appearances. 6 Olympic Games. Hockey Hall of Famer. All while raising a child, earning multiple university degrees, and not benefiting from the financial stability male professional athletes have. She gave the game everything she had--now, Hayley shares what the game gave her.

From motherhood to pro leagues to her new career in medicine, Hayley shares the hard-won lessons she learned on and off the ice that helped her not only have a record-breaking hockey career but craft a life of joy, growth, and challenges. In her own words, Hayley shares how she rose from the backyard pond and changing in boiler rooms (because girls' dressing rooms didn't exist) to Olympic MVP (twice). How becoming a parent made her a better athlete. How she learned to thrive under monumental pressure. But she doesn't stop at revealing the pillars to her tremendous success--Hayley delves into her immense failures and how she grew from them. Like Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, and Abby Wambach before her, Hayley shares her wisdom through personal stories of triumph, relentlessness, and more than a couple confrontations. Told with humour, compassion, and steadfast optimism, Hayley's practical advice, coaching, and invaluable perspective inspires readers to never accept "that's not the way we do things" or "that hasn't been done before" as limitations. An empowering and pragmatic guide, Hayley encourages readers to not follow in her footsteps, but to carve their own ice.

Oscar Wilde

- by Matthew Sturgis

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The fullest, most textural, most accurate--most human--account of Oscar Wilde's unique and dazzling life--based on extensive new research and newly discovered materials, from Wilde's personal letters and transcripts of his first trial to newly uncovered papers of his early romantic (and dangerous) escapades and the two-year prison term that shattered his soul and his life.

"Simply the best modern biography of Wilde." --Evening Standard


Drawing on material that has come to light in the past thirty years, including newly discovered letters, documents, first draft notebooks, and the full transcript of the libel trial, Matthew Sturgis meticulously portrays the key events and influences that shaped Oscar Wilde's life, returning the man "to his times, and to the facts," giving us Wilde's own experience as he experienced it.

Here, fully and richly portrayed, is Wilde's Irish childhood; a dreamy, aloof boy; a stellar classicist at boarding school; a born entertainer with a talent for comedy and a need for an audience; his years at Oxford, a brilliant undergraduate punctuated by his reckless disregard for authority . . . his arrival in London, in 1878, "already noticeable everywhere" . . . his ten-year marriage to Constance Lloyd, the father of two boys; Constance unwittingly welcoming young men into the household who became Oscar's lovers, and dying in exile at the age of thirty-nine . . . Wilde's development as a playwright. . . becoming the high priest of the aesthetic movement; his successes . . . his celebrity. . . and in later years, his irresistible pull toward another--double--life, in flagrant defiance and disregard of England's strict sodomy laws ("the blackmailer's charter"); the tragic story of his fall that sent him to prison for two years at hard labor, destroying his life and shattering his soul.

Off the Record

- by Peter Mansbridge

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Peter Mansbridge invites us to walk the beat with him in this entertaining and revealing look into his life and career, from his early broadcasting days in the remote northern Manitoba community of Churchill to the fast-paced news desk of CBC's flagship show, The National, where he reported on stories from around the world.

Today, Peter Mansbridge is often recognized for his distinctive deep voice, which calmly delivered the news for over fifty years. But ironically, he never considered becoming a broadcaster. In some ways, though, Peter was prepared for a life as a newscaster from an early age. Every night around the dinner table, his family would debate the news of the day, from Cold War scandals and Vietnam to Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

So in 1968, when by chance a CBC radio manager in Churchill, Manitoba, offered him a spot hosting the local late night music program, Peter embraced the opportunity. Without a teacher, he tuned into broadcasts from across Canada, the US, and the UK to learn the basic skills of a journalist and he eventually parlayed his position into his first news job. Less than twenty years later, he became the chief correspondent and anchor of The National.

With humour and heart, Peter shares never-before-told stories from his distinguished career, including reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the horror of 9/11, walking the beaches of Normandy with Tom Brokaw, and talking with Canadian prime ministers from John Diefenbaker to Justin Trudeau. But it's far from all serious. Peter also writes about finding the "cure" for baldness in China and landing the role of Peter Moosebridge in Disney's Zootopia. From the first (and only) time he was late to broadcast to his poignant interview with the late Gord Downie, these are the moments that have stuck with him.

After years of interviewing others, Peter turns the lens on himself and takes us behind the scenes of his life on the frontlines of journalism as he reflects on the toll of being in the spotlight, the importance of diversity in the newsroom, the role of the media then and now, and the responsibilities we all bear as citizens in an increasingly global world.

The Storyteller

- by Dave Grohl

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So, I've written a book. Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities ("It's a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!") I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I've recorded and can't wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child. 

This certainly doesn't mean that I'm quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it's like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters...the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement. 

The Fight for History

- by Tim Cook

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

FINALIST for the 2021 Ottawa Book Awards

A masterful telling of the way World War Two has been remembered, forgotten, and remade by Canada over seventy-five years.


The Second World War shaped modern Canada. It led to the country's emergence as a middle power on the world stage; the rise of the welfare state; industrialization, urbanization, and population growth. After the war, Canada increasingly turned toward the United States in matters of trade, security, and popular culture, which then sparked a desire to strengthen Canadian nationalism from the threat of American hegemony.

The Fight for History examines how Canadians framed and reframed the war experience over time. Just as the importance of the battle of Vimy Ridge to Canadians rose, fell, and rose again over a 100-year period, the meaning of Canada's Second World War followed a similar pattern. But the Second World War's relevance to Canada led to conflict between veterans and others in society--more so than in the previous war--as well as a more rapid diminishment of its significance.

By the end of the 20th century, Canada's experiences in the war were largely framed as a series of disasters. Canadians seemed to want to talk only of the defeats at Hong Kong and Dieppe or the racially driven policy of the forced relocation of Japanese-Canadians. In the history books and media, there was little discussion of Canada's crucial role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the success of its armies in Italy and other parts of Europe, or the massive contribution of war materials made on the home front. No other victorious nation underwent this bizarre reframing of the war, remaking victories into defeats.

The Fight for History is about the efforts to restore a more balanced portrait of Canada's contribution in the global conflict. This is the story of how Canada has talked about the war in the past, how we tried to bury it, and how it was restored. This is the history of a constellation of changing ideas, with many historical twists and turns, and a series of fascinating actors and events.

Persephone's Children

- by Rowan Mccandless

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After years of secrecy and silence, Rowan McCandless leaves an abusive relationship and rediscovers her voice and identity through writing.

She was never to lie to him. She was never to leave him; and she was never supposed to tell.

Persephone's Children chronicles Rowan McCandless's odyssey as a Black, biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. Through a series of thematically linked and structurally inventive essays, McCandless explores the fraught and fragmented relationship between memory and trauma. Multiple mythologies emerge to bind legacy and loss, motherhood and daughterhood, racism and intergenerational trauma, mental illness and resiliency.

It is only in the aftermath that she can begin to see the patterns in her history, hear the echoes of oppression passed down from unknown, unnamed ancestors, and discover her worth and right to exist in the world.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

Bourdain

- by Laurie Woolever

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An unprecedented behind-the-scenes view into the life of Anthony Bourdain from the people who knew him best 

When Anthony Bourdain died in June 2018, fans around the globe came together to celebrate the life of an inimitable man who had dedicated his life to traveling nearly everywhere (and eating nearly everything), shedding light on the lives and stories of others. His impact was outsized and his legacy has only grown since his death.

Now, for the first time, we have been granted a look into Bourdain's life through the stories and recollections of his closest friends and colleagues. Laurie Woolever, Bourdain's longtime assistant and confidante, interviewed nearly a hundred of the people who shared Tony's orbit--from members of his kitchen crews to his writing, publishing, and television partners, to his daughter and his closest friends--in order to piece together a remarkably full, vivid, and nuanced vision of Tony's life and work. 

From his childhood and teenage days, to his early years in New York, through the genesis of his game-changing memoir Kitchen Confidential to his emergence as a writing and television personality, and in the words of friends and colleagues including Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Nigella Lawson, and W. Kamau Bell, as well as family members including his brother and his late mother, we see the many sides of Tony--his motivations, his ambivalence, his vulnerability, his blind spots, and his brilliance.

Unparalleled in scope and deeply intimate in its execution, with a treasure trove of photos from Tony's life, Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography is a testament to the life of a remarkable man in the words of the people who shared his world.

War

- by Margaret Macmillan

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year
Finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize

Thoughtful and brilliant insights into the very nature of war--from the ancient Greeks to modern times--from world-renowned historian Margaret MacMillan.


War, the instinct to fight, is inherent in human nature; peace is the aberration in history. War has shaped humanity, its institutions, its states, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out the most vile and the noblest aspects of humanity.
 
Margaret MacMillan looks at the ways in which war has shaped human history and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. The book considers such much-debated and controversial issues as when war first started; whether human nature dooms us to fight each other; why war has been described as the most organized of all human activities and how it has forced us to become still more organized; how warriors are made and why are they almost always men; and how we try to control war.
 
Drawing on lessons from a sweep of history and from all parts of the globe, MacMillan reveals the many faces of war--the way it shapes our past, our future, our views of the world, and our very conception of ourselves.

Twelve Caesars

- by Mary Beard

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Nothing But the Truth

- by Marie Henein

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

An intimate and no-holds-barred memoir by Canada's top defence lawyer, Nothing But the Truth weaves Marie Henein's personal story with her strongly held views on society's most pressing issues, legal and otherwise.


With Nothing But the Truth, Marie Henein, arguably the most sought-after lawyer in the country, has written a memoir that is at once raw, beautiful, and altogether unforgettable. Her story, as an immigrant from a tightknit Egyptian-Lebanese family, demonstrates the value of strong role models--from her mother and grandmother, to her brilliant uncle Sami who died of AIDS. She learned the value of hard work, being true to herself and others, and unapologetically owning it all.

Marie Henein shares here her unvarnished view on the ethical and practical implications of being a criminal lawyer, and how the job is misunderstood and even demonized. Ironically, her most successful cases made her a "lightning rod" in some circles, confirming her belief that much of the public's understanding of the justice system is based on popular culture, and social media, and decidedly not the rule of law. As she turns 50 and struggles with the corrosive effect on women of becoming invisible, Marie doubles down on being even more highly visible and opinionated as she deconstructs, among other things, the otherness of the immigrant experience (Where are you really from?), the pros and cons of being a household name in this country, opening her own boutique law firm, and the likes of Martha Stewart and her commoditization of previously unpaid female labour. Nothing But the Truth is refreshingly unconstrained and surprising--a woman at the top of her game in a male-dominated world.



 

No Cure for Being Human

- by Kate Bowler

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o The bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) asks, how do you move forward with a life you didn't choose?

"Kate Bowler is the only one we can trust to tell us the truth."--Glennon Doyle, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Untamed

It's hard to give up on the feeling that the life you really want is just out of reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. Everyone wants to believe that they are headed toward good, better, best. But what happens when the life you hoped for is put on hold indefinitely? 

Kate Bowler believed that life was a series of unlimited choices, until she discovered, at age 35, that her body was wracked with cancer. In No Cure for Being Human, she searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of today's "best life now" advice industry, which insists on exhausting positivity and on trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn, and out-perform our humanness. We are, she finds, as fragile as the day we were born. 

With dry wit and unflinching honesty, Kate Bowler grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with her limitations in a culture that says anything is possible. She finds that we need one another if we're going to tell the truth: Life is beautiful and terrible, full of hope and despair and everything in between--and there's no cure for being human.

Eight Days in May

- by Volker Ullrich

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The best-selling author of Hitler: Ascent and Hitler: Downfall reconstructs the chaotic, otherworldly last days of Nazi Germany.
In a bunker deep below Berlin's Old Reich Chancellery, Adolf Hitler and his new bride, Eva Braun, took their own lives just after 3:00 p.m. on April 30, 1945--Hitler by gunshot to the temple, Braun by ingesting cyanide. But the Führer's suicide did not instantly end either Nazism or the Second World War in Europe. Far from it: the eight days that followed were among the most traumatic in modern history, witnessing not only the final paroxysms of bloodshed and the frantic surrender of the Wehrmacht, but the total disintegration of the once-mighty Third Reich. In Eight Days in May, the award-winning historian and Hitler biographer Volker Ullrich draws on an astonishing variety of sources, including diaries and letters of ordinary Germans, to narrate a society's descent into Hobbesian chaos. In the town of Demmin in the north, residents succumbed to madness and committed mass suicide. In Berlin, Soviet soldiers raped German civilians on a near-unprecedented scale. In Nazi-occupied Prague, Czech insurgents led an uprising in the hope that General George S. Patton would come to their aid but were brutally put down by German units in the city. Throughout the remains of Third Reich, huge numbers of people were on the move, creating a surrealistic tableau: death marches of concentration-camp inmates crossed paths with retreating Wehrmacht soldiers and groups of refugees; columns of POWs encountered those of liberated slave laborers and bombed-out people returning home. A taut, propulsive narrative, Eight Days in May takes us inside the phantomlike regime of Hitler's chosen successor, Admiral Karl Dönitz, revealing how the desperate attempt to impose order utterly failed, as frontline soldiers deserted and Nazi Party fanatics called on German civilians to martyr themselves in a last stand against encroaching Allied forces. In truth, however, the post-Hitler government represented continuity more than change: its leaders categorically refused to take responsibility for their crimes against humanity, an attitude typical not just of the Nazi elite but also of large segments of the German populace. The consequences would be severe. Eight Days in May is not only an indispensable account of the Nazi endgame, but a historic work that brilliantly examines the costs of mass delusion.

The Long War

- by David Loyn

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Just as U. S. soldiers and diplomats pulled out of Afghanistan, supposedly concluding their role and responsibility in the two-decade conflict, the country fell to the Taliban. In The Long War, award-winning BBC foreign correspondent David Loyn uncovers the political and military strategies--and failures--that prolonged America's longest war.

Three American presidents tried to defeat the Taliban--sending 150,000 international troops at the war's peak with a trillion-dollar price tag. But early policy mistakes that allowed Osama bin Laden to escape made the task far more difficult. Deceived by easy victories, they backed ruthless corrupt local allies and misspent aid.

The story of The Long War is told by the generals who led it through the hardest years of combat as surges of international troops tried to turn the tide. Generals, which include David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, Joe Dunford and John Allen, were tested in battle as never before. With the reputation of a "warrior monk," McChrystal was considered one of the most gifted military leaders of his generation. He was one of two generals to be fired in this most public of commands.

Holding together the coalition of countries who joined America's fight in Afghanistan was just one part of the multi-dimensional puzzle faced by the generals, as they fought an elusive and determined enemy while responsible for thousands of young American and allied lives. The Long War goes behind the scenes of their command and of the Afghan government.

The fourth president to take on the war, Joe Biden ordered troops to withdraw in 2021, twenty years after 9/11, just as the Taliban achieved victory, leaving behind an unstable nation and an unforeseeable future.

Unreconciled

- by Jesse Wente

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
"Unreconciled is one hell of a good book. Jesse Wente's narrative moves effortlessly from the personal to the historical to the contemporary. Very powerful, and a joy to read."
--Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian and Sufferance

A prominent Indigenous voice uncovers the lies and myths that affect relations between white and Indigenous peoples and the power of narrative to emphasize truth over comfort.


Part memoir and part manifesto, Unreconciled is a stirring call to arms to put truth over the flawed concept of reconciliation, and to build a new, respectful relationship between the nation of Canada and Indigenous peoples.
   Jesse Wente remembers the exact moment he realized that he was a certain kind of Indian--a stereotypical cartoon Indian. He was playing softball as a child when the opposing team began to war-whoop when he was at bat. It was just one of many incidents that formed Wente's understanding of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person in a society still overwhelmingly colonial in its attitudes and institutions.

As the child of an American father and an Anishinaabe mother, Wente grew up in Toronto with frequent visits to the reserve where his maternal relations lived. By exploring his family's history, including his grandmother's experience in residential school, and citing his own frequent incidents of racial profiling by police who'd stop him on the streets, Wente unpacks the discrepancies between his personal identity and how non-Indigenous people view him. 
Wente analyzes and gives voice to the differences between Hollywood portrayals of Indigenous peoples and lived culture. Through the lens of art, pop culture, and personal stories, and with disarming humour, he links his love of baseball and movies to such issues as cultural appropriation, Indigenous representation and identity, and Indigenous narrative sovereignty. Indeed, he argues that storytelling in all its forms is one of Indigenous peoples' best weapons in the fight to reclaim their rightful place.

Wente explores and exposes the lies that Canada tells itself, unravels "the two founding nations" myth, and insists that the notion of "reconciliation" is not a realistic path forward. Peace between First Nations and the state of Canada  can't be recovered through reconciliation--because no such relationship ever existed.

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