Read by request:
I have to credit Eugene Peterson for his persuasive endorsement. It propelled this book into a national bestseller. I don’t, however, share his evaluation.
The Shack tells an emotional tale of a family hit by tragedy and the road to healing afterwards. Many readers connect with the emotion at a deep level. That makes it dicey to criticize the book. The problem with the book is its theology. It is outside orthodoxy. Here is a review worth reading.
If I wasn’t a Christian I would love Three Cups of Tea. What Greg Mortenson accomplished in establishing dozens of schools in Pakistan is truly remarkable. As a Christian, however, I cannot swallow the pluralism and pragmatism (and I realize that I’m not representing all Christians in this statement).
Mortenson sings “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” one night while he fights to stay alive; later he kneels and prays to Allah. I think he would do anything to help the poor including praying to any god(s). He is a secular savior. A friend remarked, “It’s just a great story – it’s not a spiritual journey.” But isn’t all of life a spiritual journey?
World War I reading:
Not an easy book to process, All Quiet on the Western Front is valuable as a first person account of a German soldier. It is hard not to become numbed by the horror in the trenches, in the hospitals, and back at home. I’m glad I didn’t read it in high school. I don’t think I had the maturity to handle it then.
As I was reading about WWI, I often wondered what the trenches look like today. Stephen O’Shea, author of Back to the Front: An Accidental Historian Walks the Trenches of WWI made a walking tour of the 500 mile Western Front. I found this opinionated travelogue and macro history an absorbing read. O’Shea used a term new to me — war p*rn — to describe displays of photographs of atrocities. Quote: “Munitions are this region’s marble, a mineral resource that is available in limitless quantities.” Word Bird find: Artesian = from Artois
Easily the best book in today’s post, The Zimmerman Telegram displays Barbara Tuchman’s great skill as a historian and writer. This book answers the question, Why did Woodrow Wilson lead the United States into WWI? I never knew Pancho Villa was bankrolled by the German government. This intrigue of diplomacy, spying, code-breaking, and politics reads better than any spy novel or thriller I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.
Albert Marrin is an author I hold in high respect. The Yanks Are Coming makes a great text book for studying the role of the United States in World War I. The many pictures, maps and other illustrations are excellent complements to the prose. The limited scope of the book doesn’t tell the whole story of WWI so I wouldn’t recommend it as the only source of info on The Great War. My son and I both enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended.