Monday, April 20, 2015

Hits and Misses

Among my recent reading (ever eclectic in nature), there have been some standout hits...and some definite misses too.

First, the hits.

* Fire Over England (A.E.W. Mason)
This adventurous and well-written novel, originally published in 1936, is set in Queen Elizabeth’s England just before the campaign of the Spanish Armada. It's a striking story of heroism that makes for very enjoyable reading.

* Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts (Bill Yenne)
Though sometimes flawed by amateurish writing, Yenne compiled a great deal of thorough and relevant research for this history of the Nazi's deep involvement in cultic paganism, their irrational hatred of Christianity, and their zeal to rid the world of Jews and Slavs. He especially trains his focus on the weird "witch doctor" of the Nazi Party, Heinrich Himmler. It is not easy reading, of course, but it illuminates a very dark part of the 20th Century and, though I've read a lot about the origins of World War II, the philosophy of the Nazis, and the horrors of the holocaust, the book presented a lot of new information.

* Moondrop to Gascony by Anne-Marie Walters. (Here's a review posted earlier.)

Why Men Hate Going to Church (David Murrow)
A 5 star book, this was easily one of the most insightful and provocative non-fiction books that I've read in some time. Having long a critic of the feminization of the Church in the West, I found most of Murrow's points spot on. In addition, the book has fueled a lot of thinking, praying, and discussion. I recommend it highly.

Now, the misses.

* Jesus On Leadership (C. Gene Wilkes)
At the L'Abri Conference in Rochester last February, I talked with an academic who teaches leadership courses at the graduate level. I confessed to her that I had heard a lot about the topic -- let's face it, leadership books and seminars have been the rage for a couple of decades -- but I had never been too interested in looking into the matter. She suggested a few titles and I promised to delve into at least one of them. I chose this one because it had a foreword written by our old friend, the late Calvin Miller. However, I found the book poorly organized and remarkably repetitive. The thesis of the book (and it takes 245 pages to say it over and again) is that Jesus's leadership was servant-oriented. No kidding.

* The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit)
Not all children's novels classified as classic deserve the description. This 1907 novel, though quite famous and beloved by many, is one of those that doesn't make the grade.

* On the Beach (Nevil Shute) (Here's a review posted earlier.