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Archive for the ‘History Books’ Category

I’m reviewing two history books…because Pastors also need a break!

 

Churchill and Orwell

Thomas E. Ricks.  Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. New York, NY: Penguin Books, May 1, 2018. 352 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

A book on Churchill and Orwell?  Both men at first glance seems so different; so what does these two men have in common?  Both men love freedom and opposes totalitarianism.  With so much talk about fascism and also with the increase statism we are seeing worldwide today this book might be quite relevant to read.  The subject matter and the two individuals that are the focus of the book are interesting enough to read as a dual biography in its one right but what further propelled me to read this is because this is authored by Thomas E. Ricks.  It seems as I grow in my intellectual and thought life one can mark it with different milestone based upon books published by Thomas Ricks, from my high school years with Rick’s early book Making the Corps that was about Marine Corps boot camp when I was a high school kid dreaming about joining the Marines and then when I was a Marine and Marine veteran of Iraq with Ricks’ book The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 by Thomas E. Ricks and The Generals by Thomas E. Ricks.

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I won’t be sharing pictures on my blog since I travel overseas to teach theology but I can say that we visit South Carolina during our vacation and got to visit Fort Sumter where the Civil War’s first shot took place.  Its why I reviewed a book on Fort Sumter this month.  See 

A History of Fort SumterThis post I want to share a devotional thought.

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I am reviewing this book for this weekend’s leisure reading review because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  I hope to share more reviews from the reading I finished while I was on Vacation.

Valiant Ambition

Nathaniel Philbrick.  Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. New York, NY: Penguin Books, May 9, 2017. 448 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Want to read a book on the American War of Independence and the infamous general Benedict Arnold and his relationship with George Washington?  This book might be for you!  Benedict Arnold was the general who betrayed the American cause and helped the British.  About eight years ago I read The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin and reading this book jogged my memory of what I previously learned about Benedict Arnold whether from the previous book or other readings and lectures.  Yet I still learned some new things about Arnold from the book.

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This is one of the books I finished while on vacation!  A weekend non-fiction fun read as a break from heavy theological reading: Because Pastors need a break also!  Haven’t done one of these in a while!

A History of Fort SumterPatrick Hendrix. A History of Fort Sumter: Building a Civil War Landmark. Charleston, SC: The History Press, March 4, 2014. 161 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Most people have probably have heard of Fort Sumter from their history book as the place where the Confederates fired the first shot that launched the Civil War but did you know there were battles and military operations concerning Fort Sumter and around Fort Sumter between the Confederates and the Union after the first attack?  This book examines Fort Sumter not just with the historically memorable artillery barrage by South Carolians against Union troops in the Fort but it also goes over the history of the founding of the Fort, the tension between South Carolina and the fort for decades leading up to the attack and also the history of the fort militarily after the fateful attack of April 12-13, 1861.  And it was an interesting book written by the author even for a general reading audience.

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A weekend non-fiction fun read as a break from heavy theological reading: Because Pastors need a break also!  Haven’t done one of these in a while!

Heirs of the Founders

Cody Cassidy.  Who Ate the First Oyster?. New York, NY: Penguin Books, May 5th 2020. 240 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Have you ever wonder happened after the American founding father faded away?  Who was the second generation Americans?  In this book titled Heirs of the Founders author H.W. Brands look at three key important politicians that come to define the generation that was given the mantle of leading the United States after the first generation.  These three politicians are Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun.  These three figures were all US Senators and were leaders of their respective regions: Henry Clay representing the West, John Calhoun the South and Henry Clay the North.  I got this book to read since from other previous studies and reading I’m convinced that some of the later problems in US history was defined more by this second generation of Americans as opposed to the first generation of Americans (the founding fathers).

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A weekend non-fiction fun read as a break from heavy theological reading: Because Pastors need a break also!  Haven’t done one of these in a while!

Who Ate the First Oyster

Cody Cassidy.  Who Ate the First Oyster?. New York, NY: Penguin Books, May 5th 2020. 240 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Who ate the first oyster?  Who discovered Hawaii?  (And how?) And who painted the world’s first masterpiece?  These questions and others are answered in this book.  Written in an accessible manner the answers that author Cody Cassidy gave are informative, fascinating and interesting with the reasoning he gives of why scientists, historians and other experts come to the conclusion they arrived at.  If you like asking questions and learning people’s attempt to answer those questions then this book is for you.

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A weekend leisure reading review…because sometimes Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!

 

Rick Beyer. Rivals Unto Death: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, February 21st 2017. 224.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Reading this book made me realize that the current heated American political scene during election is nothing new, that it has had its crazy moments and its up and downs.  This book is about the animosity and competition between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr which most American remember with the duel between these two men that were involved with American politics that result in the death of one after the duel.  But rather than focus only on the duel the book looks at both men’s lives and the comparison and contrast between the two of them and how their lives culminated to that unfortunate duel.

I thought the author did a good job comparing and contrasting Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.  This book is a look at not only the biographical details of both men but also how their paths cross pathed or orbited near one another over the decades. I really enjoyed learning about both men’s upbringing and also their military career during the War of Independence.  I thought it was interesting to see how both men were similar in how they were driven, talented and energetic both as officers in the Contintental Army and later in their New York law practice.  Yet there were differences between them including their deposition and also how people perceived them.

Overall in my opinion the author did an excellent job in giving us facts and attempted to be fair.  There was a sense that later in their politics the book gives you the details of both men’s concerns with the political direction of the country.  Yet their concern seem to be the reaction of coming to the opposite conclusion of their upbringing: Alexander Hamilton who grew up poor was concerned about the tyranny of the masses while Aaron Burr who grew up in an affluent household was suspicious of the few rich elites in the political process.  The book goes over the scandals of both men while also putting the over the top rhetoric of the political discourse in the context of that being how it was during their time.  Sadly with many factors being set it led us to an event where because of honor Hamilton and Burr faced each other in a duel and one would be killed.  In one of history’s dispute of what happened that day with the duel which debate linger to today, Hamilton was killed and Burr ended up being quite hated.

Fascinating read and it lead me to put current American politics in perspective and to also pray that our country’s election process would not undermine the republic.

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A lighter post today!  Review of a nonfiction Children’s book!

 

Vanita Oelschlager. The Pullman Porter.  Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, May 1st 2014. 44 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Have you heard of the Pullman Porters?  If so have you realized how important they were for things in our society such as civil rights?  In this fascinating illustrated children’s book author Vanita Oelschlager tells us about this occupation and also how they were significant to the civil rights movement.  I thought the book was beautifully illustrated and fact based.  Fascinating!

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A weekend nonfiction audio book review…because Pastors also need a break from reading and also for you staying at home in light of the Corona Virus…

 

William H. McRaven. Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.  New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, June 21st 2019. 10 hours 18 minutes 39 seconds.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What is it like being the longest serving Navy SEAL commando and an Admiral of the Navy Seals and other Special Operations Forces?  This book is a memoir of Admiral McRaven whom most people probably know for his leadership of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that pulled off the mission that target Bin Laden.  There’s not a lot of SEALs that picked up the rank of admiral and I believe he’s the second SEAL that achieved that rank.  This audio book is read by the author himself and looks back not only with his Navy career but also his childhood and a look at the men and women who have served and risked their life and at times died in serving in the military.

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Scott D. Seligman.  Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money, and Murder in New York’s Chinatown. New York, NY: Viking, July 12th 2016.  368 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What comes up in your mind when you hear “Chinatown?”  For those in New York City from the 1890s through the 1930s many people associated Chinatown with organized crime.  It was seen as a hotbed for betting parlors, opium dens, prostitution and violence. Sadly most people during that time associated Chinese people with vice and were seen by the elites in New York and the Newspaper as a bigger problem than other immigrant groups such as the Irish, Italians, etc.  As the book agues this picture wasn’t accurate and Chinese and Chinatown was not statistically more criminal than the rest of the population in New York though their different lifestyles and ways did invite racism and prejudicial serotyping.  In fact during this was Tammany-era New York City and corruption and depravity was all over the city and among politicians and the police.  Situating things in this context the book focuses largely on Chinese organize crime.  The author look at secret societies called “Tongs,” which are the Chinese equivalent to the Italian Mafia.  It is well researched, heavily source documented and narrated well; I can’t put it down!

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

Barry S. Strauss. The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination.  New York, NY: Simon Schuster, March 3rd 2015. 352 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Most people know about the assassination of Julius Caesar through William Shakespeare’s play.  But what was the actual history of this event?  Barry Strauss a Cornell University professor of classical history gives us a well-researched book about the actual events before and after one of history’s most infamous assassination.

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  And also for your stay at home, “shelter in place,” etc, with the virus.

 

Jeff D. Dickey. Rising in Flames.  New York, NY: Pegasus Books, June 5th 2018. 400 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

When I say “Sherman’s March to Sea,” what do you think of?  I know many images and connotation is stirred up when General Sherman is brought up.  This is a rather infamous military campaign led by General William Sherman going into the Confederate South for the purpose of sabotaging the economic capabilities of the South to feed and equip their Confederate Army.  This was quite a controversy then and also controversial even for our day and age for non-Southerners given the kind of tactics Sherman pursued in the war.  Most of what I have heard has largely been from the perspective of the South and also popular imagination from the movie Gone with the Wind.  The author argues that there’s a need to understand what happened from the perspective of also those in the North and Sherman’s army.

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A weekend reading review, because Pastor’s also need a break from heavy theological reading!

Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias.  Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission. New York, NY: PublicAffairs, April 17th 2018. 306 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Anyone lived during the Cuban Missile Crisis?  While I knew some things about the incident I didn’t know the extent of how close the United States and Russia came to a nuclear war during that time until I read this book!  While the book starts kind of slow in the beginning it does pick up and is riveting and will have readers’ full attention.

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For this week’s “Wee-kids” Wednesdays here’s a review of two children’s book.

Geronimo Stilton.  The Fastest Train In the West. New York, NY: Papercutz, December 24th 2013. 56 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Want your kids to experience a fun way of learning about America’s attempt to build the intercontential railroad during the late 1800s?  This might just be the book!  This is the thirteenth volume of the Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novel series.  It wasn’t my top favorites in this series but it was still fun to read that my girls wanted me to read it to them twice.

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A weekend reading review…because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!  Well, this book might be a bit heavy, but next weekend I will schedule something of a lighter leisure reading!

Robert D. Kaplan. The Return of Marco Polo’s World.  New York, NY: Random House, March 6th 2018. 304 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Want to read a geopolitical book that looks at various dimensions and challenges in Eurasia from China, the Middle East, Iran and the steepe?  If so this book might be for you.  The author is a bestselling author on foreign policies and travel, a political risk consultant, former visiting professor at the Naval Academy (2006-2008) and journalist.   Readers don’t have to agree with everything he has to say and still walk away learning a lot and being challenged in a good way in thinking about international relations.

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