Once again I am publishing my annual look at the books I’ve read this past year. letting my readers know what sorts of things I read fill my head with (aside from the Bible, many magazines, journals, etc).
I know there is a lot to read here but you may find a title or short review to pique your interest and perhaps get a copy of the book for yourself.
As with the past years, a few books were repeat reads for me for various reasons; some so I could give them away but mostly just too many years passed to remember what was in them! Those will be noted in blue. For the most part the titles should tell you what the subject was. And the list is in the order in which they were read.
Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War Between Islam and the West, by Raymond Ibrahim. This should be required reading for every American, let alone citizens of other countries.
Calvin Ruined the Protestant Faith, by Gregory L. Jackson. Staunch Lutheran author. I agree with him on Calvin, but totally disagree with him on Lutheranism and KJVO.
British Aircraft of the Second World War, by John Frayn Turner. Not only does it give details of every aircraft but if that aircraft was crewed by someone awarded the Victoria Cross (analogous to our Medal of Honor) it gives the story of that flight. The last section details specific missions in which the various types were flown.
The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, edited by Max Morris. Hardbound, 4.5X7 format, 159 pages of citations from Winston Churchill, some of which will end up on my “The Thought-Provoker” blog.
The Story of Civilization: Caesar and Christ, by Will Durant. This is volume 3 of an 11-volume series. I purchased and read one other one, The Age of Reason Begins, but gave that away a long time ago. I read this current one when I bought it back in 1998. It covers the Roman period from 800 BC to Constantine with an epilogue explaining the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire. When it gets to the Christian period you get what you’d expect from an atheist — Jesus only thought he was the Messiah but he was just influenced by Greek philosophy; Paul invented the Christian theology and a lot of Christianity was just copying the pagan religions around them, etc, etc, etc. I have decided this book no longer belongs on my shelf and I will not pass it on for someone to be subjected to the deceitful false teachings about Christ and Christianity.
Irena’s Children: A True Story of Courage, by Tilar J. Mazzeo. The story of Irena Sendler from 1910 to the end of World War II. The primary focus of the story is the Warsaw ghetto and how Irena was instrumental in saving 2500 Jewish children out of Nazi hands.
White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America, by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh. The title pretty much sums up what the book is about. Very interesting piece of history. The white slaves led to the black slavery.
The Illustrated History of the Vietnam War, by Andrew Wiest and Chris McNab. At only 252 pages it certainly isn’t in depth but it is an excellent, concise overview of the war from the French rule through WWII and back to the French, with the USA basically taking over from the French without learning any lessons.
Scotland: Highlands, Islands, Lochs & Legends, by Claudia Martin. Sort of a coffee-table book with lots of photos. Hardbound 8.5” tall and 11.5” long, 223 slick pages. Text could probably be condensed to between 50 -75 pages. But the history and photos were we’ll worth the “tour.”
Persuasion, by Jane Austin. This is another novel by Austin which I read to my wife. Now, having never seen the movie we had no idea what the story was about. I cant recommend the book because it was quite a boring story. We liked much better the other three Austin novels we previously read.
A Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must Not Forget the Holocaust, by David A. Rausch. A friend gave me this book, which was first published in 1984 and this new edition was published in 1990. A very good look at the Holocaust and the history of anti-Semitism which led up to it. Many details of the period from Hitler’s ascension to the end of WWII.
The Rational Bible, Exodus: God, Slavery, and Freedom, by Dennis Prager. This is the book of Exodus with virtually a verse-by-verse commentary from a Jewish perspective. It also has commentary relating the teachings to today’s culture. Prager is a well-known, excellent conservative commentator who happens to be a practicing Jew. I found the book to be very interesting. This book was loaned to me by a pastor friend because he wanted to get my viewpoint on it. When I gave it back to him and discussed it with him he gave it to me as a gift!
that’s not in my american history book: a compilation of little-known events and forgotten heroes, by Thomas Ayres. Yes, there are no caps in the title. Very interesting historical tid-bits, some of which I actually knew.
1984, by George Orwell (aka Eric Blair). For years, even decades, I have heard about this book and what some of the teachings are. When I was in junior high school we were required to read Orwell’s Animal Farm which really demonstrated the end of the ideology of totalitarian systems, so I assumed 1984 would have a similar focus—and I was correct. While the topic of the book was good the story was boring. I was disgusted with the whole sex story between Winston and Julia with Winston finding her exciting knowing that she has had sex with hundreds of men in the “Party.” I think that is an irrational idea.Yes, I got some good quotes out of it for use on my “The Thought-Provoker” blog but overall I can’t recommend it.
Forgotten Hero: The Story of Jack Manch, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and the Self-Sacrifice of an American Hero, by Charles Culbertson. I saw this booklet while searching for a new copy of the book, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. We had watched the movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo on April 18th and decided to buy a new copy since I had lost mine. Jack Manch was portrayed in the movie so I decided I needed to read about him. He was 6 feet, 7 inches tall and had the nickname of “Shorty.” Manch was flying a T-33A on a training mission in 1958 when the plane’s engine caught fire. Manch ordered the student to bail out as Manch steered away from a housing area; when he was clear he ejected but he was too low to get deployment of the ‘chute and died. He had served with much valor during WWII and then in the Korean War.
Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. This is another novel by Austin which I read to my wife. We have the movie and enjoy watching it every year or so. The movie followed the book pretty well.
This We Know: A Chronology of the Shootings at Kent State, May 1970, by Carole A Barbara, Laura L. Davis, and Mark F. Seeman. I am from Ohio and graduated high school shortly after the incident at Kent State. It wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that I got curious about what really happened there and began reading library books about it; I think there was a total of four which I read. I recently came across my old letter to the editor which I wrote shortly after the incident and decided to see what I could find on the ‘net in the way of a book. There were quite a few, some of which were quite expensive, but this one was fairly inexpensive and sounded interesting. Very interesting since it is just a chronology rather than a lot of opining.
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, by Capt. Ted Lawson. Written in 1943, just over a year from when the mission took place. I first read this book when I was in high school and then when I was in the Army I bought a paperback version. I later gave that book to my son and after he left home in 2001 I bought another copy, which I later passed to another young man who was interested. Wanting to read it again, I bought another copy in 2011 and that was the last time I read it. It has become a tradition to watch the movie on April 18th every year since that was the date of the Tokyo raid in 1942. It is an excellent book for an inside look of what happened to the “Doolittle Raiders.” The last survivor of the raid, Doolittle’ co-pilot Richard Cole, died on April 9, 2019 at 103 years old—and I met him at the Air Force Museum in April 2017.
The Coming Apocalypse, by Dr. Renald E. Showers. Subtitled, “A Study of Replacement Theology vs. God’s Faithfulness in the End Times.” An excellent examination of Replacement Theology and how it originated and then later spread via the Roman Catholic Church and how it has affected history and the Church at large. Unfortunately, when the author gets to the end and writes about the end times, he goes full Hal Lindsey.
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christi. A story I’ve heard about for a very long time. Watched a modern movie and watched an episode of the Hercule Poirot miniseries and decided to read the “real McCoy.” Since my wife also wanted to know the real story, I read it to her.
Sense and Nonsense About Angels & Demons, by Kenneth D. Boa and Robert M. Bowman, Jr. I read this book when I first got it back in 2008 and I decided to read it again to determine whether to give it away or keep it in my library — I’m keeping it. Good study of the false ideas about angels and demons as well as explaining the facts about them.
The Rational Bible, Genesis: God, Creation, and Destruction, by Dennis Prager. Prager did for this book as he did to his “Exodus” book as noted above. Excellent commentaries. I do think he tries too hard to make all sorts of numbers mean something.
No Safe Spaces, by Dennis Prager and Mark Joseph Editors. Also in a DVD version. This book examines how free speech is not permitted any more, especially on college campuses where they have “safe zones” where you can’t say anything that offends someone. The idea of free speech is being excoriated by the LEFT.
The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It, by Larry P. Arnn. An excellent examination of the connection to those two documents and how the LEFT is fighting proper interpretation of the documents—and how the LEFT violates especially the First Amendment.
A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord. The story of the cruise ship Titanic which was sunk by a collision with an ice berg in 1912. Given to my wife by our son on Mother’s Day 1998 because the kids knew she was fascinated by the Titanic. She has read it 2 or 3 times before but I’ve never read it. So this time I read it to her. We have the movie by the same title.
Death of a Nation: Plantation Politics and the Making of the Democratic Party, by Dinesh D’Souza. A very good study of the history of the Democrat party and its political agendas from the beginning until the current time.
World War II: A Chronology of War, edited by Col. Raymond K. Bluhn, Jr, US (Ret). This is a LARGE book, 9.5” by 13” with 531 slick pages (plus index) and lots of photos. The book was published with the assistance of The Army Historical Foundation, The Air Force Historical Foundation, Naval Historical Foundation, and Marine Corps Association. There is a whole section, “Prelude to War: 1938-1941,” to open the book; almost a day-by-day account of all services and countries affected prior to the end of December 1941 with year-by-year chapters. Then the first section of the book is “The War Against Japan,” with year-by-year chapters, followed by “The War in Europe,” with year-by-year chapters. Each year in both sections are day-by-day of events. No real detail of any battles, of course, just short paragraphs with short descriptions of events. Great book for an overall understanding of the events of World War II.
The Night Lives On, by Walter Lord. “The untold stories and secrets behind the sinking of the “Unsinkable” Ship — TITANIC! “ Written after the Titanic was found in 1985, it gives lots of accounts by survivors. Also given to my wife on Mother’s Day 1998, this one by our daughter.
Never Call Me A Hero, by N. Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, with Timothy and Laura Orr. The autobiography of one of the dive bomber pilots who flew at the Battle of Midway. The story begins in his early life, later as he joins the Navy, the battle, and his career afterwards. Written while in his 90s, it is also a story of romancing his wife.
The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells. This was a “read to my wife” request. I got a series of H.G. Wells books back about 1980 and never read them. I know I read some of Wells’ books when I was in high school but I totally forgot what they were about. For this book I much prefer the 1960 movie. The book is thick evolutionist propaganda while the movie is much lighter on it and the movie has somewhat of a happy ending compared to the book.
Willie and Joe: The WWII Years, by Bill Mauldin. Although a paperback, it’s almost 9X11” and a tome of 692 pages. Mauldin was famous for military comics he drew and captioned before and during WWII. This book has 18 pages of biography of Mauldin and his comic history, then 615 pages of his comics, usually one to a page but sometimes two. The there are 12 pages explaining the previous comics because those having not been in the military would miss the humor in many of them. The rest of the book are copies of original artwork.
The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells. Another one I read to my wife, a book which I cannot recommend. The basic plot was about using vivisection to turn animals into some semblance of humans. Horrid story, with evolutionism as the basic philosophy.
Vikings: Raids, Culture, Legacy, by Marjolein Stern & Roderick Dale. The title of the book pretty much sums up the topic of this book; a history of the Vikings.
Scotland: The Story of a Nation, by Magnus Magnusson. I went to a Scottish Facebook site to ask if anyone could suggest a good history book about Scotland and this is the book most suggested. At 700 pages it took me three weeks to read but it was well worth it!
The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells. I read this one to my wife. Decades ago I saw different movies supposedly based on this book, but I don’t remember anything about them. While this was a better story than Dr. Moreau it was still not anything I’d recommend.
The Last Days According to Jesus, by R.C. Sproul. I read this book 16 years ago when I first got it and read it now to decide whether or not to keep it. It is essentially an examination of preterist eschatology. I’ll pass it on.
The Real Saint Patrick, by J.M. Holmes. Small paperback examining the myths, legends and actual facts of Saint Patrick. Ends with Patrick’s complete “Confession.”
The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. Of the four books by Wells which I read to my wife, this was the best one. Still lots of teaching of evolution and denigrating of religion but overall the story was good. For those who are unfamiliar, Martians invaded the earth and after causing death and destruction all over the middle part of England they ended up dying from bacterias.
The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan. A wonderful, very accurate report of what happened on June 6, 1944, including the events and preparations prior to the Normandy invasion. The book reports only on that one day, from beginning to end, and includes reporting on all participants on both sides of the battle. Reading about the research Ryan did and his efforts to get everything as accurate as possible is amazing. If you’ve seen the movie by the same name, it closely follows the book’s reporting. I last read the book when I was in high school in the late 1960s. After watching the movie again this year (we watch it every June 6th) I decided to buy the book. The one I got was released last year, the 75th anniversary of the invasion, and aside from the original text it includes copies of many of the documents Ryan used in his research as well as over 100 photos.
Why Do They Dress That Way?, by Stephen Scott. I last read this in 2003 when I first bought it. The point of the book is to explain why “plain people” (Amish, Mennonites, Brethren, et al) wear the peculiar styles. I got the book down in Amana, which was a colony of “plain people.” The author did not grow up with any group, rather he claimed he was looking to be a better Christian in the way he dressed and therefore studied the “plain people” from all over the states and some foreign countries. Essentially their rules are arbitrary and legalistic, derived from abusing Scripture for the most part. I consider these groups cultic because it is all about control of their people.
Helmet For My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific, by Robert Leckie. This was one of the first “war” books I read when I was in junior high school, if I recall correctly. I was recently talking with my wife about books I read when I was in school and remembered several titles. So I ordered a copy on Amazon and, after reading the book, I’m sure I enjoyed it more when I read it over 50 years ago! Leckie was a Marine fighting in the Pacific during WWII, but at least a third of this book tells of his debauchery whenever he was on leave or had a pass, as well as his illegal activities of stealing things and spending time in the brig. If he’d left all that trash out it would have been a better book. I will not keep this one. OH, the book says the HBO miniseries “The Pacific” was based on this book. I saw the series and don’t remember seeing that, but I thought the series stunk when compared to “Band of Brothers.”
All In One Room: A History of Country Schools in Johnson County, Iowa, by Franklin L. Yoder. The title sums up the subject of this book. We live in Johnson County and we photograph one-room schools, so this book was quite a fascinating read.
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. Another one read to my wife. A very sweet story with a lot of teaching about how God works in our lives. After many years of watching a Shirley Temple movie we finally decided we wanted to read the book. The movie is not the same story; it’s been modified and shortened so much that half the story is left out. But it is still fun to watch.
Never Without Heroes: Marine Third Reconnaissance Battalion in Vietnam, 1965-1970, by Lawrence C. Vetter, Jr. On September 1st, while at the local grocery store wearing my “Army Veteran” baseball cap, I was approached by another man about my age and wearing a “Marine Corps Veteran” hat. We got to talking about our time in service and he said he was in Vietnam as a technician aboard an electronics warfare aircraft. He invited me to meet with his group of vets meeting early on Wednesday mornings. So on the following Wednesday, the 7th, I met with them. There was another paratrooper who was stationed in Korean during the mid-1950s, a Navy vet who was an electrician on board an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, another sailor stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War and another Marine who was stationed in California during the Korean War. One man was missing, having just recently fallen out of a tree he was trimming and was recovering. This man, Bob, was a Marine Recon in Vietnam. So the next week we met on Bob’s patio. I mentioned my interest in history and that my only knowledge about Vietnam was through reading and talking to veterans of that war. Well, Bob had some stories and then he offered to loan me a book about his unit in Vietnam. This book was such a great history of what extraordinary missions his unit undertook. Members of this battalion were awarded four Medals of Honor, 13 Navy Crosses and over 50 Silver Stars. Fascinating reading, as well as humbling to read of so many who lost their lives saving others. Bob’s copy is autographed by the author, who was a member of the unit, and Bob’s name is listed at the back of the book with the names of all those who were members of the Battalion. I ended up purchasing my own copy.
Reflections on the Existence of God, by Richard E. Simmons III. My retired pastor friend asked me to read this so he could discuss it with me. I think it is an excellent examination for the evidences for God while leaving religion out until the end of the book. Ed ordered 40 copies for his prison ministry. My only problem with the author is his lack of theological discernment when selecting Christian authors to cite (e.g., he calls Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, from which he cites, a “wonderful book”).
The Miracle of Dunkirk, by Walter Lord. The second book I’ve read on this historical event. Lord really highlights the individuals involved.
Thunderbolt!, by Robert S. Johnson with Martin Caiden. This book is the story of one of the highest scoring aces of World War II and the plane he flew. It’s a great fighter-pilot book with all the thrill and fear of aerial combat. I read this book while in the 10th grade and during the same period I was taking a science course titled “Aeronautics,” which was essentially ground school for working toward a pilot license. Between the course and this book I was convinced that I needed to one day earn a pilot license, not even considering that one day I would earn a Commercial Pilot license but also a multi-engine airplane rating, and instrument rating and a helicopter rating! While “Aeronautics” taught the mechanics of flight, the first part of Thunderbolt taught the thrill and joy of flying. It’s a book I could never forget and so I found a copy on the Internet in October so I could once again enjoy the story.
A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute. Long ago we acquired a VHS set with the mini-series based on this book. It is really an excellent story which I can highly recommend. A couple years ago I found a DVD version, thinking it was professional but it is a bootleg copy — although a fairly good one. A couple months ago we watched the mini-series for the first time in a couple years and got to wondering about the novel. So I found a copy from Barnes & Noble and I just finished reading it to my wife on 12/5. The mini-series really, really followed the book, which left you wanting the further story! The author was an aeronautical engineer in England and founded an aircraft manufacturing firm which provided 1000 training aircraft to the RAF in WWII. He moved to Australia a few years after the war and the large part of the book takes place there.
Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation Into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination, by Richard Belzer and David Wayne. The sub-title sums up the topic. Essentially the evidence from two congressional commissions and other witness testimony is that Lyndon Johnson ordered the assassination and the Mafia with the CIA carried it out. Oswald had nothing to do with it.
Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, by Peter Collier. This book profiles living and recently deceased (as of the 2006 publication) Medal of Honor recipients. Whenever I read such stories I wonder if I would have been able to do such things if I went to war.
Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, by Robert Matzen. Good story about Stewart’s war time service but the narrative leading up to the war had too much about him and how many Hollywood starlets he bedded. I don’t know why that was necessary — just pure titillation with nothing to do with the story. AND it made me lose a lot of respect for Stewart.
Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, by Don & Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro. This book exposes the fraud of the Enneagram and well as the history of the false teachers who developed it and promote it among Christians. Rohr is the current “heavyweight.” I’m always amazed at how gullible people can be.
And there you have it. Of course I'm in the middle of two other books: How the Scots Invented the Modern World upstairs and Maps of War: Mapping Conflict Through the Centuries downstairs, both of which will be reported on next year.