Books I Heard or Read in 2013

I like to post a review/recommendation of the books I heard on audio or read in full this past year. As is always my custom, I’ll start with the audio first and then move to the printed editions.

Audio Books

The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda – Yaroslav Trofimov

This was probably the most riveting of all the books I heard this year in audio. It tells the true story of how a group of devout Muslims led by a preacher named Juhayman al-Otaybi convinced his faithful followers that his brother-in-law, Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani, was the Mahdi, or the Islamic redeemer. They, along with about 500 supporters, invaded the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Nov. 20th, 1979 and held the place captive for nearly two weeks until 3 French GIGN special forces commandos helped with the retaking of the facility.

What I appreciated about the book is it retold an event I vaguely recall as a kid. Little did I know at the time the possible international ramifications the situation could have caused to play out. Only weeks before the Iranians had captured the American hostages, so the siege worried the Saudis that Iran was responsible. A threat of war in the gulf states was extremely real.

Moreover, rumors spread across the Middle East that Americans had desecrated the mosque, so riots broke out in several countries where our embassies were assailed. The embassy in Pakistan was especially attacked and more hostages would have been taken if not for the swift decisions made by military personal on the ground there.  Our worthless president at the time, Jimmy Carter, actually apologized to the Pakistani government for American wrong doing that stirred up the riots.

But even more interesting about this book is the insight the author gives to the Islamic perspective on their eschatology and how their faithful adherents understand the end of the world playing out.  If you can get the book, it would be a brilliant addition to any world religion studies that may interest a person.

The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil Who Swallowed Her Up – Richard Lloyd Parry

I heard the author interviewed on Dennis Prager’s radio program and being one who likes a good mystery, I was able to secure it on audio. It tells the story of Luci Blackman, a British gal who had moved to Tokyo to work as a hostess. She disappeared one weekend and her dismembered body was found several months later in a seaside cliff. The murderer was discovered to be a wealthy playboy by the name of Joji Obara who had assaulted and murdered a number of women throughout the 90s. He is one of Japan’s more notorious serial rapist/killers.

The story was a bit disturbing to hear, and in fact I had to skip over large sections that described the assaults on the women and the serial killing aspects to Obara’s crime. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one to folks. Read the wiki article on the crimes instead.

Socrates: A Man for Our Times – Paul Johnson.

A short retelling of the life of the great Greek philosopher. Unlike many of Johnson’s other books, I found this one boring and it was a chore to get through. Thankfully it was only 6 disks long, so I was mercifully spared a brutal beating.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War – Phillip Jennings

I was a kid who became aware of my world way after the Vietnam War came to an end. Most of what I learned about the war was shaped by out of touch high school history teachers and lefty, ex-hippy profs in college. What I did know about Vietnam I regrettably learned from movies and TV shows.  The reason for the war was largely vague and mysterious and the purpose of America being there was pointless. I also thought all Vietnam vets were mentally unstable druggies because of the war.  The infantry guys were just a hair’s width from going Rambo on a community or the commanding officers all came back to operate secret Asian drug cartels and other similar crime rings. More to the point, I was told America lost the war badly.

Phillip Jennings book, part of the exceptional “Politically Incorrect Guide” series, retells the history of the war beginning way before America was involved and moving up through when the first Army rangers were sent in, and then to the end when a Democrat controlled congress bailed on our allies, thus leaving the region to the mercy of the communists.

The author is a decorated veteran of the war, which lends him unique insight to the true facts and he has put together one of the few books which actually taught me something I had never previously known. It thoroughly debunks all the liberal propaganda and myths I had been fed over the years. His chapter in which he dismantles all the ridiculous Vietnam themed movies was especially entertaining.  I can’t recommend this book enough.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War – Nathaniel Philbrick

This was also an excellent book that gave me better insight to historical events I largely know more as “mythos” than fact. The author retells the history of the Mayflower’s voyage across the Atlantic and the people who arrived on her. He tells of their settlement in the new world and eventual encounters with the Indians, and the circumstances involving King Phillips war that took place between the natives and settlers many years later.

The author doesn’t intend to dismantle classic American romantic myths that have sprung up around the Pilgrims, but to rather to provide the reader a fuller account of the story that is so instrumental to the founding of our country. I highly recommend it, especially to those who have an interest in colonial Christianity.

Regular Print Edition Books

Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended – Greg Bahnsen

This is Bahnsen’s long, lost manuscript that was found years after his death and then was turned into a book. Kind of boring and could have been better edited, but overall, it is good. The section reviewing Gordon Clark’s apologetic methodology is outstanding. See my fuller review HERE.

Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith – Scott Oliphint

I have to confess I haven’t finished this book. I’m about 3/4 of a way through. The book is good, so I would certainly recommend it, but I have been distracted with other things and just haven’t had the interest to get through it. The book is Oliphint’s recasting of presuppositional apologetics as Covenant Apologetics because he believes all people are in a covenant relationship with God, either as covenant breakers or covenant participants.

I am in pretty much agreement with Oliphint’s view here, though I am Dispensational in my understanding of God’s redemptive history and do not adhere at all with Covenant Theology. Dispensationalists, contrary to what is often repeated on the internent by simpletons, do believe in covenants. However, as I wrote in a post from earlier this year, I do not think one has to embrace all of Oliphint’s thesis, particularly the idea of a covenant of works that holds unbelievers accountable to God in order to get his point.

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels – J. Warner Wallace

As the title says, Wallace, who serves as a cold-case homicide detective in Los Angeles, takes ten principles he utilizes as a cold case detective and applies them to an investigation and evaluation of the Gospel narratives in order to determine if the authors were genuine eye-witnesses to the events they saw regarding the life of Jesus.  I hope to write a fuller review later (emphasis on “hope to”), but it’s an excellent book overall in spite of it having some weak spots and being in the evidentialist camp of apologetics.  Mr. Wallace provides a useful resource for addressing objections and criticisms against the historicity of the NT text. If you need a really full review that interacts with the same problems I saw, see Lyndon Unger’s Amazon review that will be worth your time reading.

The Harbinger: The Ancient Secret that Holds the Secret to America’s Future – Jonathan Cahn

After hearing about this book from a number of people who wanted to know my opinion about it, I eventually got around to reading and reviewing it. My fuller review is in two parts and can be read HERE and HERE.

What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qu’ran – James White

James White excellent book providing an overview of Islam and how Christians should engage the religion. A must have for those serious about shoring up their thinking with regards to Muslims. See my fuller review HERE.

Should She Preach – Tony Miano

I just recently finished this book and may offer a fuller review at a later time. Tony, who spearheads Cross Encounters Ministries, is a retired LA county sheriff deputy. He now is actively involved with street preaching and evangelism. When he trained folks in street preaching for Way of the Master ministries, his classes included women. Over time, Tony began to rethink his view of women street preaching and his many years of pondering the issue produced this book.

He outlines his reasons why he believes women should not street preach, interacts with the many so-called biblical arguments supporting women preachers, and then has an extended section in the book that contains a number of written interviews with well-known pastors and minister on the nature of women’s roles in church.

A very well-done work I would highly recommend.  Tony gave an hour and half adapted sermon on the subject at Beaverton Grace Bible Church during a conference in August.

Zechariah (In the NAC series) – George L. Klein

For my devotions, I try to read a faithful commentary every year in conjunction with studying deeply a particularly book of the Bible.  Geeky I know, but hey!, it works. Anyhow, I have truly appreciated a number of the commentaries found in the NAC series, especially those in the OT. Block’s work on Judges is also another outstanding work. A couple of years ago, I used my Christmas money to pickup some books on the minor prophets and this one was high on my list.

Klein’s study is outlined well and he provides a detailed introduction to the book that lays a solid foundation for his study. He believes Zechariah’s vision is in two parts, chapters 1-8 and then 9-14. He interacts well with those folks who claim the book represents the prophecies of two separate individuals because the subject matter is so different. He is also premillennial when it comes to the interpretation of the visions for future Israel recorded in chapters 9-14. My only complaint is I wished he would have interacted more with alternative interpretations like amillennialism and postmillennialism, but what he does cover was helpful.

Universe by Design – Danny Faulkner

Dr. Faulkner’s study and evaluation of all the historical cosmological models, up to and including the current favorite one, the big-bang. The book was well written and informative and individual chapters are currently online at AiG for download.

Now, I also read through John MacArthur’s most recent book, Strange Fire (regular readers all know about it, of course), but because I plan to interact with Dr. Michael Brown’s rebuttal book, Authentic Fire, I’ll save my acknowledgement of both until next years review. Wow. 2014! Where are all the flying cars and orbiting space hotels!?

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5 thoughts on “Books I Heard or Read in 2013

  1. Pingback: Reviews | hipandthigh

  2. Wow thank you for sharing about the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War, I need to see if I can borrow the paperback in a neighborhood library (been buying too many books!).
    I read the Siege of Mecca last year and reviewed it on our page last year (2012) and it was a riveting read, I can’t believe the story actually happened! History can be more amazing than any fiction.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pingback: What Fred Butler Read This Year « DR. RELUCTANT

  4. Thanks for the recommendation on the “Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War”. I got the audio version like you. After reading your comments, I think I’m a little older. I grew up during the Vietnam War and remember many things being reported in the media, and also hearing first hand information from veterans (family, neighbors, and teachers). I never was very interested in reading or seeing movies on the war because I felt it all was skewed. This book is great. It sets the record straight. The book brought back for me one of Americas worst moments when we failed to support South Vietnam in 1975 when the North attacked. This was a disgrace. Today, I tell veterans they shouldn’t be ashamed. They participated in a “hot war” to restrain communism, within the victorious larger issue of the “cold war”.

  5. Pingback: How I Choose Commentaries | hipandthigh

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