First, I’ll note the ones I heard via audio.
Unbroken: A WW2 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand. Probably the best book I heard this year. The truly amazing story of Louie Zamperini who was an up-and-coming track star in the 1930s who very well could have set the world record for the mile run if it weren’t for the stupid Nazis and imperial Japanese ruining everything by starting a world war.
Louie became a bombardier for the Army Air Force and in May of 1943, while on a routine mission, his bomber experienced mechanical failure and crashed into the Pacific. He, the pilot, and another man, were left adrift for nearly 40 plus days in open water. Louie and the pilot survived, and once they made land fall, they were in the hands of the Japanese imperial army and they became prisoners of war.
Remarkably, and this is only due to God’s grace, Louie and his pilot friend survived the two, long years of torturous encampment and horrific abuse by the prison guards, especially the camp commander who everyone called “the Bird.” Back home, after the war, Louie’s life was a shambles because like a lot of post-war veterans, he couldn’t adjust to civilian life and he became an alcoholic and abusive to his wife. He was invited to hear Billy Graham speak in 1949 at his Los Angeles crusade and after one of the services, Louie went forward and became a new man in Christ.
Hillenbrand does a great job telling this story and the narrator of the audio edition makes her research come to life. In fact, at the point of the story when the American POWs were for certain liberated after the dropping of the two A-bombs, I could sense the emotion in the reader’s voice to the point I thought he was going to start crying.
One of the neat things about this book is that I know people who know Louie, who still lives in the LA area.
Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul – John Barry This audio book was wearying. It is extremely well done as far as research goes and Barry goes into great depth providing us the background to English law, the whole issue between church and state, and the significance of what it was the Puritans were attempting to accomplish here in America. I would encourage Christians to read it (or hear it) because what happened in Puritan Colonial America is essential for us understanding Christianity in America today. The book definitely broadened my understanding of pre-Revolutionary America and gave me a better context of who Roger Williams was and his importance in founding his colony at Providence.
I say the book is wearying because the reader was boring and slow. Too many. long pauses. between sentences. I’d have to start. and stop listening to it. but finally finished. just in time. to file this review.
The Tyranny of Cliches – Jonah Goldberg Goldberg is swiftly becoming one of my favorite secular conservative commentators and writers. His first book on Liberal Fascism was outstanding. I wrote about it on my 2010 yearly review. With this book, Goldberg takes on many of the cliches we hear in our modern culture like “Violence never solves anything,” “Ideology,” “Social justice,” “Power Corrupts” “I’d rather let ten guilty men go free, than execute one innocent man” and gives them a good debunking. What I truly appreciated about this audio version is that he did the reading. So he put the emphasis in the right place as he read along, and that made his material so enjoyable to hear.
Five Vince Flynn novels – “Kill Shot,” “Transfer of Power,” “Act of Treason,” “Protect and Defend,” and “Extreme Measures.” They are the on-going story of black ops CIA special agent, Mitch Rapp, who dispatches with terrorists in a blink of an eye.
Regular Print Edition Books
George Whitfield, Vol 2 – Arnold Dallimore I read the first volume to Dallimore’s magnum opus on the life of evangelist, George Whitfield, maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I finally decided this year that I would dig into the second volume.
The book begins with the theological Calvinist/Arminian drama between Whitfield’s and John Wesley’s relationship and works it way through his ministries in the American colonies and England, his marriage, his ministry among the English wealthy, and eventually his death. Dallimore masterfully weaves together the details of Whitfield’s life in a highly readable form that never gets boring.
Judges. I taught through the book of Judges and Ruth with my volunteers this year. Two commentaries that were an immense help with my teaching prep was Daniel Block’s commentary from the NAC series, Judges and Ruth and Leon Wood’s The Distressing Days of the Judges. Wood’s work is a bit dated than Block’s, but both supplemented each other well and if anyone is planing a study through Judges, I would exhort you to get them both. Wood’s book is out of print, though findable at Amazon or ABE’s books. The only available “new” edition is the over-priced, cheap paperback put out by Wipf&Stock Publishers.
The Bible, Natural Theology, and Natural Law: Conflict or Compromise? – Robert Morey Robert Morey’s editorially flawed evaluation of natural law and theology. See my fuller review HERE.
Biblical Apologetics: Advancing and Defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Cliff McManis Currently the best book any Christian can get on the subject of apologetic methodology and theology. See my full review HERE. (Ignore the nit-picking young Reformed bloggers hating on it)
The Harry Potter Bible Study – Jared Moore A misguided attempt by a real nice pastor to make the Harry Potter stories “redeemable” and relevant for Christian evangelism. See my full review HERE.
Old Earth Creationism on Trial – Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle An Answers in Genesis publication dealing with the problems of old earth creationism. Special emphasis hits upon the theological and textual difficulties old earth proponents have when attempting to accommodate deep time views of the secular world.
The two authors take a court trial approach to laying out their case by which they present a prosecution and defense and then a cross-examination of the evidence. It’s a brief introduction to the differences between the old earth view and the young earth view, one that many of the young, on-line apologists from the Christian Apologetic Alliance ought to read so as to avoid the pitfalls of strawman arguments against young earth creationism.
Though it is a good introduction to the subject, and available for free on the internet, I personally prefer Jonathan Sarfati’s much more in-depth critic of Hugh Ross’s old earth apologetics called Refuting Compromise. I reviewed it HERE.