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(March 9, 2000, Gazette)

Outrageous Seas - Edited by Rainer K. Baehre Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival by Gerhard p. Bassler Various biochemistry books edited by Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi Canadian marine fisheries in a Changing and Uncertain World by Dr. Brad de Young

The Portable Hannah Arendt
Edited by Dr. Peter Baehr

Hannah Arendt was a Jew born in Germany in the early 20th century, and she studied with some of the greatest German minds of her day – Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers among them. After the rise of the Nazis, she emigrated to America, where she wrote some of the most searching, hard-hitting reflections on the agonizing issues of the day – totalitarianism in both Nazi and Stalinist garb; Zionism and the legacy of the holocaust; federally-mandated school desegregation and civil rights in the United States; and the nature of evil.

Edited by Dr. Peter Baehr, Sociology, The Portable Hannah Arendt offers substantial excerpts from the three works that ensured her international and enduring stature: The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition and Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Additionally, this volume, part of the Viking Portable Library series, includes several other provocative essays, as well as her correspondence with other influential figures of the time, including Jaspers, Eric Voegelin and Mary McCarthy.

In his preface, Dr. Baehr calls Arendt “a deeply paradoxical figure.” She campaigned vigourously for Zionism in the 1930s and ’40s, yet opposed the formation of a unitary Israeli state.

“She was among the greatest women political thinkers of the 20th century, yet one strikingly at odds with academic feminism,” writes Dr. Baehr.

However, it is this sense of paradox Dr. Baehr calls “the challenge she poses to the received wisdom of modern times.”

These pieces form an eloquent testament to a fearless thinker who argued for justice and hope in the middle of the 20th century.

Peter Baehr’s previous book, Caesar and the Fading of the Roman World, was designated an Outstanding Academic Book of 1998 by Choice, the journal of the American Librarians’ Association.


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Outrageous Seas:
Shipwreck and Survival in the Waters off Newfoundland, 1583-1893

Edited by Dr. Rainer K. Baehre

There was a time when the history of the sea was as important as the land for defining a country’s social and cultural identity. Edited by Dr. Rainer K. Baehre of the historical studies program at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Outrageous Seas is about that time, and about that harrowing, almost mythic, experience of shipwreck, near-shipwreck, and survival in the waters off Newfoundland.

Travellers from many walks of life – explorers and missionaries, traders, fishers and mariners, Native peoples, aristocrats and immigrants – have left rare and fascinating first-hand accounts of such disasters. Their narratives span four centuries and touch many historical sub-themes such as the appeal of religion in times of crisis, gender roles, and the ocean as workplace.

“Some of these stories have been kept alive in our historical memory through text and song, and many were written by amateur historians who explicitly intended their stories to be popular histories,” writes Dr. Baehre in the collection’s introduction. “With some rare exceptions, however, these consisted almost exclusively of short summaries and contain little historical context. They dwell primarily on adventure, tragedy, and heroism.”

Dr. Baehre said these stories are useful to scholars, but only in a limited fashion. However, these narratives are an excellent and important component of the study of shipwreck in Newfoundland waters.

Apart from its obvious scholarly appeal, this collection evokes psychic responses to calamity and brushes with death, perhaps the most universal experience of all.

In the introduction, Dr. Baehre concedes that “narratives from Newfoundland waters do not hold a monopoly on the many possible parts and variations of the phenomenon of shipwrecks. These particular narratives are however unique expressions of this specific region and its special identity.”


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Alfred Valdmanis and the Politics of Survival
Dr. Gerhard P. Bassler

Alfred Valdmanis is best known in Canada for his infamous role in Premier Joey Smallwood’s scheme to industrialize Newfoundland and Labrador. A Latvian immigrant, he was appointed director general of economic development in 1950 with the understanding that through his connections to Europe he could entice German and Baltic industrialists to the isolated, rural island.

His influence was brought to an abrupt end when, in 1954, he was charged with defrauding the government. The media, latching on to his murky past and his possible affiliations with war criminals, made him the scapegoat of Newfoundland’s problems, painting him as part comedian, part sinister villain.

Dr. Gerhard Bassler, History, has written the definitive examination of Valdmanis. Dr. Modris Eksteins, a history professor at the University of Toronto, called the book “a most unusual project on a most unusual life.

“Alfred Valdmanis was a brilliant careerist and opportunist, a political chameleon whose life story seems more the stuff of fiction than of conventional history. Dr. Bassler’s scholarship is outstanding, his perseverance and effort astonishing. He seems to have pursued every lead across the four corners of the earth.”

Valdmanis’s trouble in Newfoundland was not the first time his name was connected with controversial issues. Between 1938, at age 29, and his ironic downfall in the safe haven of Canada, he was finance minister in pre-war Latvia, government official during the Soviet invasion, shrewd collaborator under the Nazi occupation, then friend to the Allies, a spokesman for Latvian POWs and displaced persons, and adviser to the government of Canada.

In this first serious biography of Alfred Valdmanis, Dr. Bassler recasts the story of this political manipulator and chameleon in new terms: the often tragic consequences of the will to survive.


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Phytochemicals and Phytopharmaceuticals; Quality Attributes of Muscle Foods; Functional Properties of Proteins and Lipids; Flavor Chemistry of Ethnic Foods; Chemicals Via Higher Plant Bioengineering
Edited by Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi

Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi, Biochemistry, is one of the editors for these five books. Each book contains international contributions from a wide variety of areas. “Food science is a comprehensive discipline and benefits from input from medicine, chemistry, nutrition and biology,” said Dr. Shahidi. “It is not just one area, but needs a close collaboration of experts.”

In Chemicals Via Higher Plant Bioengineering, the controversial topic of biotechnology and transgenic food plants is tackled in 18 chapters. “There are a lot of chemicals produced by animals that could be produced in plants through gene insertion,” said Dr. Shahidi. “It holds the promise of new avenues to aid us in disease prevention by enhancing the content of certain components, say antioxidants, or complementing deficient amino acids in plants. But there are also concerns about the ecological and environmental effects.”

In Functional Properties of Proteins and Lipids, 17 chapters look at the new area of food functionality, which explores the biological as well as food functions of proteins as enzymes, hormones, transmitters, etc. Some areas of the field have developed rapidly, while others — such as common methods and conditions for determining functionality — have lagged behind. This book brings the subject up to date, based on current research of leading scientists in Canada, Mexico, the United States and their associates around the world. The book’s final section, which contains three chapters on fat and oil functionality, has information not found in most books on functionality. Dr. Shahidi explained that the feeling we get in the mouth from fats and oils, and their incorporation of flavour constituents, are very important in food selection — for example, the ‘marbling’ of a prime rib steak over that of a less quality one. Dr. Shahidi’s own contribution to this book is a chapter on the effect of acylation on flax protein functionality.

In Quality Attributes of Muscle Foods, Dr. Shahidi has worked with Dr. Chi-Tang Ho, State University of New Jersey, and Dr. Youling L. Xiong, University of Kentucky, to produce a 28-chapter monograph examining the production of high-quality, wholesome protein from meat and seafood. In one chapter Dr. Shahidi, along with Dr. Ronald Pegg, University of Saskatchewan, look at the quality attributes of muscle foods as affected by nitrite and nitrite-free curing.

With Dr. Ho, Dr. Shahidi edited Flavor Chemistry of Ethnic Foods and Phytochemicals and Phytopharmaceuticals, monographs which include contributions from researchers around the world. Dr. Shahidi contributed to two chapters of Flavor Chemistry of Ethnic Foods, including the overview and a study of the flavour and chemistry of uncured and cured meat of harp seal. Overall, the book summarizes the current status of knowledge in this fragmented area.

Dr. Shahidi said that before processing, foods such as meat or coffee have little flavour; it is the heat processing that generates the flavour. We perceive flavour not only through taste but also through aroma — for example, without aroma, an onion and an apple would taste the same.

In Phytochemicals and Phytopharmaceuticals, the two editors have gathered papers related to treating, managing or possibly curing different diseases. Dr. Shahidi said there are bioactive components from plant and animal tissues that have an effect against the occurrence of certain diseases or treatments. As the market for supplements and nutraceuticals has expanded, the interest of scientists and the public in phytochemicals and phytopharmaceuticals has also increased.

Dr. Shahidi’s own contribution to this monograph of 37 chapters is a study, with three collaborators, of the antioxidants of evening primrose. Other papers look at antioxidants in rosemary leaves, betel leaves, and the highbush blueberry. Garlic, flaxseed, fruits and vegetables, tea, and the potato are also among the foods studied.


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Canadian Marine Fisheries in a Changing and Uncertain World
Dr. Brad de Young, panel co-chair

In recent years, Canadians have become increasingly aware of the dynamic and changing nature of fishery systems, which in-clude not only the fish and their environment, but also people and their associated social and economic institutions and communities.

As a result of the challenges created by our constantly changing fisheries, the Canadian Global Change Program of the Royal Society of Canada formed an interdisciplinary Fisheries Panel of nine people in 1996.

The panel’s mandate was to write an authoritative and comprehensive review of the implications of physical, biological, economic, and sociopolitical changes for Canadian marine fisheries and to present options for how to deal with those changes.

Dr. Brad de Young, Physics, was the co-chair of the panel. Other panelists and co-authors were Randall M. Peterman, A. Rod Dobell, Evelyn Pinkerton, Yvan Breton, Anthony T. Charles, Michael J. Fogarty, Gordon R. Munro, and Christopher Taggart.
This report outlines a vision for future sustainable marine fisheries for Canada and reviews the state of Canadian marine fishery systems.

It also examines the complexities and major processes of change and variability in fishery systems, which lead to uncertainties and create risks, i.e., biological risks for fish populations, economic risks for those in industry, and social and economic risks for people in coastal communities who rely on renewable aquatic resources.
These risks have important implications not only for how management agencies should operate, but also for how industry, fishermen, and coastal fishing-dependent communities should plan and act.

The last part of the report therefore emphasizes the features of an effective social response to the challenge of managing these risks: stewardship and conservation, participation and cooperation, and compliance and accountability.