Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When Lions Roar by Thomas Maier

When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys by Thomas Maier is an examination of the relationship between two dynastic families of the twentieth century: the Churchills and the Kennedys. When two families as powerful as these two have as many connections and relationships as the Churchills and Kennedys did, it is bound to not just provide interesting fodder for gossip columns, but to be historically significant as well.

The relationship between the Churchills and the Kennedys spanned three generations, two continents, and one world war. While the families briefly met socially in the late 1930s, their relationship really started when Joseph P. Kennedy was appointed the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James. When Lions Roar gives some background information on the patriarch of each family, but the majority of the book centers on the official roles that brought these two families together, and how those roles and relationships affected the relationship of the U.S. and Britain. It chronicles both the public and private ups and downs of the relationships mainly among Joe Kennedy Sr., Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, and John F. Kennedy, though other family members and their interactions are also mentioned.

When Lions Roar is a fascinating read. It is very well written and though it is full of detail and quotes from both spoken and written texts, the pace never gets bogged down. Maier focuses on two main relationships throughout this book. The main focus of course is on the relationship between the two families. However, there is a secondary focus on the relationship within each family, particularly that of father and son. How the two fathers interacted with their children was quite different. Towards the end of the book, Maier briefly explores how these different types of interactions produced very different kinds of sons.

Anyone interested in either family will find When Lions Roar a satisfying read. So will those interested in the relationship between the U.S. and Britain, especially leading up to and during WWII.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Case for Hope by Lee Strobel


The Case for Hope: Looking Ahead With Confidence and Courage by Lee Strobel is an attempt to prove that true hope is real, if it is grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Lee Strobel is known for tackling subjects thoroughly and with an eye for truth and clarity that only a former journalist could have. Those who have read any of Strobel's previous works will find familiar content in this latest addition to his body of work.

Because the hope Strobel discusses is based on the person and work of Christ, he does spend some time discussing proof for the veracity of Christ's claims, though in a very condensed fashion. He spends the rest of the book discussing the relationship between hope and doubt, as well as telling stories of how this hope has changed people's lives, including his own.

While I normally don't comment on the aesthetics of a book, I feel compelled to this time. The overall feel of the cushy hard cover, and the blue color scheme somehow adds to the overall feel of hope that reading this book gave me. It almost has a gift book feel to it. It's rare for me to feel that way, but in this case, it was something I noticed from the very beginning.

Anyone who is a fan of Strobel will enjoy this book. I'd also recommend The Case for Hope to anyone who is investigating Christ and the claims of Christianity. This is a good primer on the basic facts. Christians who may be struggling to have hope or remember the reason for it will also benefit from reading this book.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, October 26, 2015

Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber


Accidental Saints: Finding God In All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber is a collection of stories of grace made evident through an unlikely group of people. Bolz-Weber is a Lutheran pastor who founded House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. Most of these stories come from her interactions with people in that community.

Bolz-Weber's style is honest and raw, sometimes uncomfortably so. There is no element of the "safety" of anonymity in these stories. She shares them with her and others' brokenness out for everyone to see. She is unapologetic about her past or her present. While her transparency and openness are very appealing and winsome, there is a flip side to that. Her liberal use of offensive language completely turned me off at first. It took a conscience mental effort to set that aside, see past it, and learn form the truth of grace each story presents. Some people won't find it a problem, but for others, its something to be aware of. In the end, I'm glad I was able to set it aside and see the truth, because I benefited from it. However, I know some will be unable to do that, and its something I wish I had known in advance. Because I was completely unfamiliar with Bolz-Weber before reading this, it felt somewhat like an ambush.

Overall, each story told in Accidental Saints pushed against my experience and sense of grace. It did this in a good way, because it stretched me. I appreciate Bolz-Weber's willingness to point out how much more powerful (and real) grace looks, the messier the situation. Anyone who is ready and or willing to be pushed in the same way will benefit from reading Accidental Saints.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Colson Way by Owen Strachan

The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World by Owen Strachan is an examination of Chuck Colson's life focusing on his time as a Christian engaging politics in the public square. While Strachan briefly touches on Colson's early life, Watergate experience, and time in prison, the main focus is on his life after prison.

Strachan has two stated goals with this book. They are to tell "the overall story of Colson's life with special reference to the motivation and accomplishment of his public-square work," and to form "this historical material into a compelling model for Christian public witness and cultural engagement" (xxvi). Throughout the book, Strachan meets both stated goals. He is both passionate and compelling as he makes the argument for today's believers to engage the public square as consistently and ferociously as Colson did. Not all readers may agree with Strachan's stands, but it is hard to argue with his passion about engaging, however one choses to do so.

This is not a book for someone looking for a definitive work on Colson's life or his role in Watergate. The Colson Way is a call to America's Christians to stop hiding and begin engaging the public square. This is a helpful work for anyone interested in that whether they are not yet engaged, or have been doing so for a long time. It's encouraging to read about those who have gone before. Colson is a good example for today's believers. Hopefully, The Colson Way will make more people aware of him, and the legacy he left behind.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our Man in Charleston by Christopher Dickey

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey is the story of Robert Bunch, Britain's consul in Charleston from 1853 -1863. Bunch served in a place where slavery was a huge issue, during a time when Britain was leading the way in ending the world wide slave trade.

Robert Bunch helped shaped Britain's views of the American South and it's "peculiar institution" during a time when the stakes were high. Britain had abolished slavery in its country and was attempting to end the slave trade world wide. This was one of their leading causes during this time, and most of the conflict in this area was occurring right where Bunch worked and lived. The delicate political situation of recognizing the Confederate States of America or not eventually led to Bunch's removal from Charleston.

Our Man in Charleston tells an interesting story, just not quite the one I expected. I expected it to be more espionage related, based on the title. However, Bunch was a diplomat through and through. While maintaining his personal views while at the same time maintaining relationships with those around him did require a certain amount of subterfuge, it was more diplomatic in nature. This book is heavy on description and narration, which makes its pace somewhat slow. Someone more interested in diplomatic maneuverings would probably appreciate it more than I did. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in foreign involvement in American history in the fifty years or so leading up to the Civil War.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach


Messy Grace: How A Pastor With Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction by Caleb Kaltenbach is Kaltenbach's story of supporting the truth of the Bible in a difficult, and for him very personal, area of life. As the title states, Kaltenbach is a pastor whose parents both identify as homosexual.

In Messy Grace, Kaltenbach tells his story of growing up with an out mother in a committed relationship and a closeted father. Growing up, he was taught that Christians hate people, and originally attended church hoping to better combat the hatred he saw hurled at his mother and her partner by Christians. To his surprise, he fell in love with Jesus and has spent his life since then pursuing and serving Him.

Kaltenbach does an excellent job of laying out both his opinions and experiences and what the scripture says about homosexuality. He encourages everyone to re-examine their own preconceived ideas in light of what scripture says. Kaltenbach offers a good mix of personal experience and general principals and practices. Each chapter includes discussion questions at the end for a deeper look. The main theme is that there is a tension between grace and truth that every believer must follow. Holding a traditional, biblical view of homosexuality does not give Christians permission to either ignore or treat badly those in the LGBT community. In fact, the Gospel argues the opposite approach must be taken. Kaltenbach offers practical suggestions about the two communities engaging and interacting with one another.

Not everyone will agree with Kaltenbach's views, which he readily admits. His main goal is to move the conversation a little farther along than it was before. Messy Grace is an easy and practical read that will benefit many all along the spectrum of this important issue. It's a good resource and recommendable to everyone.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Printer and the Preacher by Randy Petersen


The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America by Randy Petersen examines the somewhat unlikely friendship that spanned decades of each man's life. Using historical sources, including letters written between the men, Petersen lays out the trajectory of each man's life and how the overlap of their lives helped shape American history.

Petersen gives a thumbnail sketch of each man's life before their first interaction, but the majority of the book is spent discussing how Whitefield and Franklin influenced and helped one another. The way each life is presented, Petersen is trying to get the reader to see many parallels between them. He points out similarities in social standing, success, and thought, especially about engaging with and bettering one's community. The main difference was that Franklin thought the solution to all of society's woes was in civic engagement, and Whitefield thought the solution was Jesus.

The similarities Petersen points out are interesting, though some of them seem like somewhat of a stretch. Whitefield and Franklin did seem to have a symbiotic relationship that made both of them more successful than they could have been alone. It's clear they had a deep respect and affection for one another, though their opinions on many matters varied, sometimes widely. It's an overstatement to claim their friendship "invented America," but it does seem to have been an important relationship that is often overlooked when examining America's history.

The Printer and the Preacher is an interesting book about the friendship of two historically significant men. The pace is somewhat slow, and some of the connections feel forced. There is a fair amount of repetition and conjecture, though Petersen is good about pointing out what are just his thoughts. Overall, anyone who is a fan of early American history or of the first Great Awakening will find this an interesting, if not quite engaging, read. 

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, July 6, 2015

He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him by Mimi Baird is comprised largely of the account of her father's stay in a mental institution in the 1940s. Using his original manuscript that she edited for clarity, Baird recounts the story of the man whose illness stole him from her.

Dr. Perry Baird was a successful dermatologist in the Boston area in the 1940s. He suffered from what today would be called bipolar disorder. The lack of understanding and effective treatment of mental illness during this time led to his involuntary incarceration in Westborough State Hospital.

Without giving too much away, I find myself wondering, as Dr. Baird himself did, if the treatment he received while in the hospital only exacerbated his problem and led to the drastic measures both he and the medical community would later take. Dr. Baird's description of his treatment and his thoughts during his manic times is remarkably clear and well articulated. He allows the reader to almost feel what he was going through. Mimi Baird's contribution that describes the rest of her father's life after his manuscript ends adds to the dismay I felt for Dr. Baird and his family. The separation imposed by society at the time between the mentally ill and everyone familiar to him only added to the brokenness of the situation.

Anyone interested in the history of mental health treatment in America will find He Wanted the Moon an engaging read. Those interested in family relationships and the dynamics of society in the 1940s will also find  this book of interest.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, June 19, 2015

Detained by Don Brown

Detained by Don Brown is a novel about a terrorist plot against the U.S. There are several moving parts, including a foreign-born member of the United States Navy, his father, two Navy JAG lawyers, the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy and his wife, and several characters from the Department of Homeland Security. Honestly, there are too many main characters for any of them to be fully developed.

The plot of Detained is convoluted at best. I have read other novels of Brown's in the past, and remember enjoying them, which is why I was so surprised with how much I did not like Detained. The plot is so outlandish and the characters seem like they belong in an SNL skit they are so one sided and a mockery of themselves.

I generally enjoy any novel that takes place in the military world, even if the plot and/or characters are not as developed or tight as I normally prefer them. However, there was just nothing in Detained I could latch on to. This won't stop me from reading Don Brown in the future, but I definitely won't be reading the rest of this series. 

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel

Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel is an all too real novel about the effects of bullying. Two stories unfold simultaneously as the adult narrator tells the story of the girl she is raising, as well as the story of her own friendship with the girl's mother.

From the beginning, Frankel sets a tone of mystery. There are so many questions the first scene creates. Those questions are answered as the two stories slowly unfold. Each revelation brings a new level of understanding. When the narrator switches to the teenage girls, the knowledge she doesn't have that the adults her life do adds a sense of poignancy to the story.

As someone who works with teenagers, the reality of this story hit close to home. Frankel accurately captures the heightened emotions that teenage girls experience as they form friendships and create enemies. The cruelty shown in this novel was so real that as I read how the characters treated one another, I flinched with each verbal blow. Hyacinth Girls is a striking reminder of the power of words to shape one's life, especially at a young age. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the interactions of teenage girls. Both adults and teenagers alike will not just benefit from this story, but will enjoy the ride it takes one on as well.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician's First Year by Matt McCarthy is a first hand account of the author's first year practicing medicine. While McCarthy does share experiences with patients, the majority of this book is about what was going through McCarthy's mind as he transitioned from a scared "doctor" in need of constant supervision, to a "real" doctor capable of handling any situation thrown at him.

McCarthy's honesty about the uncertainty and terror when he first started practicing medicine is refreshing. It also reminds me how human doctors are. As a patient, one wants to feel confidence in their doctor, yet somehow connected, or at least understood. Some doctors are so unapproachable, it can make for an uncomfortable visit. McCarthy details the struggle of finding that balance of investing in patients without getting sucked in and devoured by them.

Anyone interested in the medical field will appreciate this book. Those seeking to better understand the crucible that is the intern year will find this enlightening. Overall, The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly is an enjoyable peek into a world few people experience for themselves, but everyone benefits from.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, April 27, 2015

All Groan Up by Paul Angone

All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and A Freaking Job! by Paul Angone is a look at one man's journey through the ups and downs that make up the current American twentysomething life. While sharing his own story of navigating these confusing years of his life, Angone shares some of the universal truths he has learned along the way.

Reading All Groan Up is like finding your long lost teddy bear at a flea market; it shows up out of the blue and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and just a bit more secure simply because you have its company. By sharing not just his failures, but his internal monologue during this season, he offers one of the most comforting pieces of knowledge - you aren't the only failure (self-perceived or not) out there. Nothing is wrong with you because you reached "adulthood" not having all the answers - or even all the questions.

By inviting the reader into his life, Angone offers a precious gift - community. He both opens and closes the book encouraging the reader to read this book not alone, but with a community, because he knows that sharing the load makes it easier to carry. That's what All Groan Up does. It lightens the load of the reader by letting them know they aren't alone as they stumble through the pitfalls along the way "being an adult" whatever that really means.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dead Wake by Erik Larson


Dead Wake by Erik Larson is an engaging account of the sinking of the Lusitania. Using both primary and secondary sources, Larson tells the story from all sides. Once finished, the reader better understands not only what happened on board, but inside the U-boat that sunk her, as well as the broader historical context. 

This is the first book of Larson's that I've read, and it officially made me a fan. His narrative style is smooth and entertaining. He was able to tell the story of a huge event using the little moments that better help us connect to history. Another great feature of this book was getting to understand what was happening not just on board the Lusitania, but also on U-20, the U-boat that sank her. Learning about that particular tour reinforces one of the themes of this account - that a million little things happened that led to the sinking. If just one of these many things had changed, on either side, the Lusitania would simply be the name of another ship from a bygone era. 

Anyone interested in history, WWI, maritime history, U-boat history, or the politics of war will enjoy Dead Wake. It is extremely well written and just as important, accessible to the average reader.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, March 27, 2015

Divided by Bill Delvaux

Divided: When the Head and Heart Don't Agree by Bill Delvaux is a book about the divide many Christians experience between what they intellectually acknowledge, and what actually plays out in their life. Delvaux shares many personal examples as he discusses the universality of the divide, what the divide is, what causes it, and how to cross it.

I was initially excited to read this book, as the concept of intellectually knowing the truths of the Bible, while still having trouble believing them enough that they are everyday parts of my life is something I've struggled with. However, when I actually started the book, I realized it wasn't going to be as helpful as I'd hoped. Delvaux shares some good ideas, and his honesty about his own struggle is encouraging in that I know I'm not alone. In my opinion, he spends too much time establishing the fact that there is a divide. The first third of the book is used to establish this. The second third, which is supposed to be about "tackling the divide" is really more of the same - more establishing that there is a divide than ways to tackle it. The last third discusses what its like to close the divide.

For someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of the divide that occurs in many believer's, Divided has helpful information. It's more of a primer on the subject than a guide to dealing with it. At the end of each chapter are prayers and discussion questions that can be used by individuals or groups to go deeper into the content of each chapter. 
 
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot

A Fifty Year Silence, by Miranda Richmond Mouillot, is the story of a granddaughter's search for the reason behind the breakup of her grandparent's relationship. As a child, there was such a separation between her grandparents, that it wasn't until she was twelve years old that the thought that her grandparents once knew one another, much less had once been married, crossed her mind. No one knew what happened between them, and her grandparents hadn't spoken in over fifty years. The feelings between them were so strong, that her grandfather wouldn't set foot on the same continent as her grandmother.

Mouillot grew up extremely close to her grandmother, and couldn't fathom never knowing about this huge part of her life. Her natural inclination toward history led her to figure out what happened. Mouillot moved to France after college to live in a house her grandparents bought together in a small village in France. She thought this would help her search for the truth. Using nothing more than her grandparent's official refugee documents from WWII and the few memories she could get her grandparents to part with, she pieced together the story neither one of them could, or would, remember.

Mouillot is an engaging writer. She easily draws the reader into the mystery surrounding her family history. Weaving together the past and her present search for her, Mouillot makes the reader feel as if he/she is a fly on the wall as she searches. I felt her frustration as she hit dead end after dead end. As she finally the realized the truth, I felt some of the wallop that she must have felt as she realized her family's history and happiness was simply another causality of war.

I recommend A Fifty Year Silence to any person interested in family history, the effect of WWII on European Jews who managed to stay out of concentration camps, or anyone interested in how the past influences and informs the present.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Invisible Front by Yochi Dreazen

The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War by Yochi Dreazen is the story of a military family who experienced two unimaginable losses in less than a year. Both of their sons died, one by his own hand and one in combat. The response by the military community, and the community as a whole was so different, that it further added to the family's grief. This led to the parents' crusade to end the stigma associated with mental illness within the military community and improve the systems available to the untold number of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD.

Major General Mark Graham and his wife Carol's fight to change and improve such an entrenched culture, and sprawling bueracrcy, as that of the United States Army is inspiring. If they didn't have such a personal motivation, I don't know that they would have been able to keep fighting. I'm glad they did though. The changes General Graham was able to make at Ft. Carson that have since been adopted at bases throughout the United States have probably saved countless lives. The suicide epidemic the military is facing is not likely to go away any time soon. The emotional wounds that lead to suicide cast a shadow much longer than that of deployment or the year immediately following one's return from combat. We as a country must do a better job of supporting our returning soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines.

While the content of this book was difficult to read, the quality of the writing and the flow of the pace make The Invisible Front an engaging, fast paced read. I couldn't put it down. I felt as though I was in the narrative at times. At others, I found myself having a hard time not skipping ahead to find out what happened next. Dreazen did an excellent job of telling the story in a way that connects the reader to the characters, without adding his own bias. It's clear that he views the mental health system in the military as broken and ineffective, especially in the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; however, I don't consider that a bias in this case, as the majority of rational people would feel the same way.

The Invisible Front is thoroughly researched, extremely well-written, and covers such an important topic. I recommend this book to pretty much anyone. Everyone has been touched by mental illness whether directly or indirectly. The message of this book is that there is hope and there is help, but it often involves a fight to receive it. The fight is worth it, and must be fought by advocates of those who need the help, not just those in trouble. The stigma must be thrown aside, and the problem dealt with directly. Regardless of our feelings about the politics of war, we owe those who have fought on our behalf at least that much.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Breaker's Reef by Terri Blackstock

Breaker's Reef by Terri Blackstock is the conclusion to the Cape Refuge quartet. Cape Refuge is a fictional small island off the Georgia coast that has seen an unusual number of major crimes over the couple of years the series chronicles. Breaker's Reef not only covers the last crime, but wraps up the stories of all the major characters.

Those familiar with Blackstock's work will find the Cape Refuge series familiar. It spans Blackstock's standard four books and weaves faith and relationships together with mystery and intrigue. The main characters aren't perfect, but they do show the power of redemption and grace. Fans who have read the rest of the Cape Refuge series should be satisfied with how it is concluded in Breaker's Reef.

These books have been re-released with new covers. In my opinion, the new covers are more visually appealing than the originals. They look cleaner and brighter. Nothing in the text has changed however, so those who read the series when it first came out don't need to read them again.

Anyone who is a fan of mystery novels in general, or those specifically written from a Christian point of view will enjoy not only Breaker's Reef, but the entire Cape Refuge series.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book
review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Battle Against Hitler by Dietrich von Hildebrand

My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand and John Henry Crosby is a collection of memoirs and scholarly works by one of the staunchest intellectual opponents of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Von Hildebrand was a respected Catholic philosopher who taught at the University of Munich. He was such a fierce opponent of Nazism, even before anyone outside of Germany was really paying attention, that he found himself on several Nazi death lists. In fact, his stance led to his having to flee from Germany, and later from Austria, because he was marked for death.

Crosby took memoirs written by von Hildebrand for his second wife, and translated and edited them into somewhat of a narrative style that covers von Hildebrand's life in the 1920s and 1930s. Crosby adds some historical context to von Hildebrand's memoirs, which helps the reader better understand von Hildebrand's words. The first half of the book is taken from von Hildebrand's informal memoirs and is broken down by year, with portions of context preceding each change in subject. The second half of the books is comprised of articles and excerpts of articles von Hildebrand wrote against Nazism and antisemitism. Most of these articles were originally written for Der Christliche Ständestaat (The Christian Corporative State) the journal von Hildebrand headed up while he was in Austria; the stated purpose of this journal was to combat Nazism specifically and nationalism in general on an intellectual level.

I am amazed that I had never heard of Dietrich von Hildebrand before reading this book. He seems to have been such an influential opponent of Hitler and Nazism, that I wonder why he isn't more widely known. I really enjoyed reading about his life in his own words. Crosby did a great job of adding just enough notes and context to make sense of von Hildebrand's words without adding anything unnecessary. He recognizes that von Hildebrand's work is strong enough to stand on its own. The second half wasn't quite as easy to read as the first, as it was written on more of a scholarly, philosophical level. I understood enough to know that he was brilliant and would be a worthy opponent of any ideology he didn't agree with.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII, philosophy, Catholic intellectual life, or Europe in the time between the world wars.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Greater Valor by Jerome Corsi


No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory by Jerome Corsi is an account of the siege of Bastogne. This occurred during the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive of WWII.  The 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions were sent to Bastogne at the last minute after their post leave was cut short. They were sent without adequate supplies, and under the command of a new general because of a last minute switch. This illustrates the desperation of the situation unfolding at the beginning of the offensive.
 
The focus of No Greater Valor is slightly unclear. The subtitle and introduction make it seem as though the focus will be the religious aspect of the siege seen through the faith of those involved and how they interpreted events. While there are some mentions off faith throughout, they are random and not the main focus. The main focus seems to be just a recounting of events. There is little to no background information given, and as a reader not familiar with the specifics of battles in WWII, I found myself struggling to keep up at first. It was somewhat like being thrown into the deep end and told to swim. There was also a lot of technical military terminology without any explanation or reference chart. The content itself is good, but how the book is advertised is misleading. In cases like this, a disservice is done to the reader.
 
Overall, anyone who enjoys military or WWII history will probably enjoy No Greater Valor, though its not really the best book for one unfamiliar with either topic.
 
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookLook book
review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255