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Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

A weekend non-theological book review.  Cause Pastors also need a break with other readings…

Robert M. Gates. Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.  New York, NY: Knopf, January 14th 2014. 640 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Let me begin by saying I rarely pick up memoirs and of those I have started very few I have ever finished.  A lot of them end up being somewhat anti-climatic and sometimes they can be too narcissistic for my taste.  Often in the back of my mind I wonder if there are things left out or opinions given that end up being more of a hindrance to knowing the truth.  So the fact that I finished this memoir and am writing a review of this book speaks volume of how much I enjoyed this work.

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A weekend non-fiction book review.

Luke Harding. A Very Expensive Poison: The Definitive Story of the Murder of Litvinenko and Russia’s War with the West.  New York, NY: Vintage Books, January 24th 2017. 432 pp.

4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Sometimes facts of history can be more fascinating than any work of fiction.  This is an example of where current events mimics a spy suspense novel of the Cold War era except it is all too real including the fatal consequences.  The author Luke Harding is a British journalist who worked for The Guardian and have spent several years as a foreign correspondent in Russia.  He has written quite a bit about modern Russia including several books on the topic.  I first read his book on Wikileaks which was also intriguing.  This book’s subject matter is even more intriguing than the first.

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I didn’t get to post this earlier as this weekend non-fiction review since our church was going all out for VBS but here it is…

T.J. Stiles. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.  New York, NY: Knopf, October 27th 2015. 608 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book is a biography on the legendary George Armstrong Custer.  The book also was the recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History.  For the general readers it might be good to know that the book is more on the personality of Custer than a book solely on military operational history of Custer’s campaign.  So it is quite readable and makes for a fascinating read.

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A weekend nonfiction book review! ‘Cause Pastors need a mental break too.

Val McDermid. Forensics.  New York, NY: Grove Press, July 7th 2015.  310 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is a fascinating book on criminal investigations by a British author of crime novels and thriller.  In this work of nonfiction she explores the various specialization and sciences behind criminal investigation.  In the beginning of the book she notes that there is a lot of misconception that the public has for those involved with criminal investigations in light of TV shows like CSI.  Intrigued with the topic she gives us a journalistic account of those involved with investigating crime and how the men and women go about with the art and science of finding and proving the suspects.

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As 2016 comes soon to a close here are reviews of 4 audio books that I listened to during the last three months of 2016.  If you are interested here is last year’s .

Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World
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Jay Sekulow. Unholy Alliance: The Agenda Iran, Russia, and Jihadists Share for Conquering the World.   Brentwood, Tennessee: Howard Books, September 20th 2016. 320 pp.

4 out of 5

This book is written by Jay Sekulow who is probably best known to most people as the Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice.  This is the second work by Sekulow that I enjoyed.  In this present title the author tackles the issue radical Islam and also the strange relationship between Iran, Russian and Sunni radical Islamic groups.  For the audio book Jay Sekulow read the book himself and the upbeat manner and pace of how he speaks on his radio show is also how Sekulow read the book which is a plus since I’ve always thought his voice makes whatever he was talking about as serious, urgent and interesting.

The book is comprised of eleven chapters in which the bulk of the book focuses on the history of Iran and explanation to Western readers about Islam.  I found the discussion about the Sunni and Shite divide to be have been pretty spot on.  I think the West often think of radical Islam as affiliated with extremists of the Sunni variety (think Al Qaeda and ISIS) but there’s a whole Shiite form that most in the West don’t think of in the form of Iranian backed Shiite terrorists groups (think Hezbollah, Shiites militia in Iraq backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, etc).  I did learn some new things reading this book concerning the history of Iran though and I was surprised to learn of how long it was that Iran was once Westernized.  Of course we know the Iranian revolution with their own Shiite brand of Radical Islam changed all from 1979 onwards.  Towards the end of the book the author cited various evidences of the strange relationship between Iran and other unlikely jihadists and terrorists groups.  Sekulow talked about instances in which Iran helped Al Qaeda and Iran’s support for Hamas even though Hamas is predominately Sunni.  The most interesting wild card is the Russian alliance with Iran in backing Assad’s regime in Syria.

Overall this is an interesting work.  I give it a four out of 5.

Purchase: Amazon

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Another weekend, another weekend leisure reading review.

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Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.  New York, NY: Sentinel, November 3rd 2015. 238 pp.

5 out of 5

I remember as a kid reading old books on Marine Corps history that talked about a conflict I rarely hear people talked about in which the Marines was at the tip of the spear waging a war against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean and North Africa in the early part of the 1800s.  It sounded so exotic and I was fascinated with how the United States’ Navy and Marines as small as they were back then went about trying to execute their mission despite limited manpower and military capabilities.  It was during a time when the United States was still a new country and the leaders of the US was still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.  So I am glad that over two decades later I came across this book on the United States response to the Tripoli pirates.

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patton-at-the-battle-of-the-bulge-by-leo-barron

Leo Barron. Patton at the Battle of the Bulge: How the General’s Tanks Turned the Tide at Bastogne.  New York, NY: NAL Caliber, October 28th 2014. 432 pp.

This is another work on the European Theatre of World War Two that I enjoyed in the fall of 2016. In this instance I listened to this book in audiobook format.  This book is more operational history and is what probably many who are interested in World War Two battles want to read and hear.  It tells us the story of General Patton’s attempt to break the German military stronghold surrounding the US Army 101st Airborne Division in a town called Bastogne from the perspective of one of Patton’s favorite outfit: The Fourth Armored Division.

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