Book Reviews From 2021

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I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2021. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

24

AC/DC

Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible

George Whitefield

Hal Moore On Leadership

His Last Bow

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

How Christianity Changed The World

How I Got This Way

How To Bring Men To Christ

Jesus On Trial

John Adams

Miracles Out Of Somewhere

My Lucky Life

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

Pilgrim’s Progress

Prayer

Prophet With A Pen

QB

Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers

Secrets Of Dynamic Communication

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Shepherd Leadership

Star Struck

Talking To GOATs

That Hideous Strength

The Art Of Writing And The Gift Of Writers

The Hidden Smile Of God

The Hiding Place

Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

To The Work!

Voice Of A Prophet

Washington’s Immortals

Word-For-Word Bible Comic: Jonah

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

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AC/DC (book review)

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A few weeks ago a storm had knocked power out to our house, and yet I still automatically flipped on a light switch every time I walked into a room. We have become so accustomed today to the consistent flow of electricity everywhere, but that wasn’t always the case. Tom McNichol recounts the history of the epic battle that brought electricity to our homes and offices in his book AC/DC.

I think most people would call Thomas Edison the pioneer of the flow of electricity to homes that lit up the lightbulbs he created. This is true in a certain respect, and yet it is only a fraction of the story. Edison did perfect a lightbulb for the express purpose of enticing people to bring electricity into their homes or businesses, and he did create a power station to generate that electrical flow. 

But power can flow through either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC), and Edison steadfastly—some might even say stubbornly—stuck to his conviction that DC power was the way to go. In the meantime, other inventors, especially George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, were perfecting and promoting the superior advantages of AC power. The battle between these forces was vicious, unrelenting, and at times gruesome! 

Interestingly, it took the unique talents and prodigious minds of all three of these inventors to bring us the electrical systems we now rely upon so heavily to power our homes, businesses, cars, computers, and smart phones. From AC wired power to DC battery-stored power, we are daily grateful for these inventors’ creativity. 

I will add a slight footnote to this review that I found the bookend chapters of this book—that is the first and last chapters—to detract from the overall fascinating history. The opening chapter talks about man’s fear and fascination of lightning, and the last chapter talks about a modern-day technology battle that I found incongruous with the history of the AC/DC battle. But despite those somewhat awkward chapters, I found the balance of the book to be quite entertaining and educational. 

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Prophet With A Pen (book review)

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This book is personal for me—it’s a part of my family tree and my spiritual legacy. Prophet With A Pen is the biography of Stanley Frodsham, lovingly told by his only daughter Faith Campbell. 

Stanley Frodsham’s pen was truly anointed. From his history of the modern-day Pentecostal movement, to his biography of renown evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, to his editing of the worldwide Pentecostal Evangel magazine, all the way down to his personal correspondence. Frodsham’s pen may have done more for the Pentecostal movement than anyone else’s did. 

As a case in point, consider the powerful preaching of Smith Wigglesworth. His sermons were not prepared and written out ahead of time, but they were Holy Spirit-breathed at the moment Wigglesworth was preaching them. Most of those sermons that have been preserved for us in writing were due to the careful shorthand notes of Stanley Frodsham. 

In Prophet With A Pen, Frodsham’s daughter tells us his life story through her personal recollections, her extensive library of her father’s letters, and the remembrances of lifelong friends of the Frodshams. It’s an intimate portrait of a man who never sought the limelight, but simply wanted everyone to personally experience the power of Pentecost. 

I mentioned that this book is personal for me. Faith Campbell was my great-aunt, and her husband (who was quite an evangelist himself) shared many of these stories with me personally as I was growing up. Reading this collection of remembrances of Stanley Frodsham has reinforced my commitment to honor the heritage that I’ve been given, and to pass on a vibrant spiritual legacy to those who will come after me. 

Anyone who enjoys church history will thoroughly enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the men and women who were so crucial to the early Pentecostal movement. 

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Hal Moore On Leadership (book review) 

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Sometimes you might hear it said of someone’s leadership mettle or leadership philosophies that they are “battle-tested.” In the case of Hal Moore On Leadership, this is literally true! 

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young,” which recounts the first full-scale military battle in Vietnam between Moore’s 450-man force and the 2000 soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. Despite being completely surrounded and severely out-gunned, Moore’s First Cavalry decisively defeated the NVA. 

General Moore’s leadership principles won the day for his men in that battle. But even then, his principles had already been battle-tested under fire in the Korean War, and put to the test in the various assignments that Hal Moore faced in his highly-decorated military career. Moore was continually tasked by superior officers to re-tool underperforming units, or step in where tensions were high, or help reorganize when the Army was experiencing some growing pains. 

Moore not only excelled at every assignment, but he kept meticulous notes that are now available to any leader in this excellent book. 

Hal Moore On Leadership is partially a biography, but mostly his story is told as the backdrop for the leadership principles that were proven to be correct time and time again. 

Students of both leadership and military history will find this book enjoyable and practical. 

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The Hidden Smile Of God (book review)

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It’s one thing for someone to dispense sound advice, but it’s an entirely different thing for that advice to come from hard-won life experiences. The Hidden Smile Of God is the second book in John Piper’s excellent series of biographies called “The Swans are Not Silent.” 

Each book in this series features biographies and life lessons of three notable saints. Pastor John weaves these character studies together around a common theme. In this book, the lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd are examined to see the fruitful ministry that can emerge from a life plagued by affliction. 

John Bunyan, well-known author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, spent over a decade in prison, as well as the balance of his life under severely pressing circumstances. David Brainerd was a missionary to several American Indian tribes, while struggling with failing health and crushing loneliness. And William Cowper was suicidally depressed through nearly all of his life, and yet wrote some of the most intimate and moving poems. 

In fact, it is a line in one of Cowper’s poems from which the title of this John Piper book emerges—

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 
But trust Him for His grace; 
Behind a frowning providence 
He hides a smiling face.

Pastor John does more than merely share memorable biographies of these three men, but he extracts insights about suffering and affliction that will enable others to have a new biblical paradigm about their own suffering. Such amazing lessons for any of us struggling through dark times.

Even if you don’t personally struggle with affliction or anxiety or depression, chances are very good that someone around you does. Perhaps you could read this book and share some of these helpful insights with your friends or family members who are struggling. 

If you would like to check out my review of another book in this series—Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifullyplease click here. 

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24 (book review)

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Whether you are a Major League baseball fan or not, there is so much to love about 24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid by John Shey. 

Willie Mays is arguably the best all-around player in baseball history. There’s only a few that surpass him in individual statistics like home runs, stolen bases, and fielding prowess, but combining all of his stats puts the Say Hey Kid into a rarefied category! 

Willie overcame such huge obstacles and racism, took time away from baseball to serve his country during the Korean War and still racked up mind-boggling statistics, and exhibited a loyalty to both teammates and opposing players that make hardly anyone a comparable peer. He played the game competitively, seldom took a day off, always had time for the fans (especially the kids), and has remained an integral part of his beloved San Francisco Giants for more years in retirement than he even did as a player. 

He accomplished all of this with class and professionalism. 

John Shey compiled twenty-four life lessons from Willie Mays’ life, to match his iconic jersey number. Each chapter tells the story of his life before, during, and after baseball while elaborating on that particular leadership lesson. This book is extremely well written. 

Both baseball fans and students of leadership will find many rich lessons in 24, all presented in a very enjoyable format. 

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George Whitefield (book review)

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The ministry of George Whitefield in both the British Isles and the American colonies is still unequaled today. Of very few men could it be said that they both initiated a revival and put mechanisms in place for the long-range growth of the church in two entirely different cultures. Arnold Dallimore captures this well in his biography George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century. 

Previously, I read and reviewed J.C. Ryle’s biography of George Whitefield. Bishop Ryle wrote this book to correct some of the maliciously untrue reports that were circulating about Whitefield. Rev. Dallimore’s book has the benefit of more years of history in which to test the assertions of Bishop Ryle. The result is a well-rounded work that takes us through the beginning of Whitefield’s ministry, his maturing thoughts and practices, and the lasting legacy that is still being felt today. 

Rev. Dallimore does address some of the same falsehoods that Bishop Ryle sought to debunk, but he goes farther to give us a sweeping overview of the tireless and highly effective ministry Whitefield undertook for nearly all of his life. Students of church history will definitely want to add this excellent book to their library. 

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Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully (book review)

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Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is, in my mind, a grand slam! It features one of my favorite poets (George Herbert), possibly the most prolific evangelist of history (George Whitefield), my all-time favorite author (C.S. Lewis), all tied together by my go-to theologian (John Piper). Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is part 6 in Piper’s series called “The Swans Are Not Silent.” 

George Herbert was a pastor of a small country church and a prolific poet who wrote almost all of his poems uniquely. “Of the 167 poems in The Temple, 116 are written with meters that are not repeated,” which even modern poets find astounding. George Whitefield spent more hours of his life preaching than he did sleeping, and he spoke with such a captivating style that he was quite possibly the first celebrity of the American colonies. C.S. Lewis wrote everything from history to fantasy, autobiography to poetry, theology to children’s novels. Peter Kreeft says of him, he “was not a man: he was a world.” 

John Piper finds in all three of these men a common thread: They all were able to not only see the beauty of God in everything, but they were able to express it in a beautiful way that drew in others to see the beauty of God for themselves. Pastor John calls this “poetic effort.” 

Pastor John also wrestles with how the profound creativity and eloquence of his three subjects meshes with the apostle Paul’s admonition that human eloquence could drain the Cross of Jesus of its power (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5). He concludes that poetic effort for the sake of exalting the speaker or poet does turn people’s eyes to man and away from God. But that poet, evangelist, or author that uses the beauty in God’s creation to point people to the Creator is doing so in a way in which God is supremely exalted. This, Pastor John says, is exactly what Herbert, Whitefield, and Lewis have done, and done so well that their poetic efforts are still fruitful and God-glorifying long after their deaths. 

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully is a wonderful book for those who enjoy biographies, theology, or the craft of skilled artisans. If you don’t know about the poems of George Herbert, the preaching of George Whitefield, or the vast library of literature of C.S. Lewis, let this book be your doorway to a rich new world of discovery, enjoyment, and God-glorification. 

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John Adams (book review)

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I find David McCullough to be one of the most thorough, impartial, comprehensive, and engaging historians that I have read. These attributes—and many others—are on full display in his biography of our second president John Adams. 

Many have rightly called Thomas Jefferson the pen of the Declaration of Independence and John Adams the voice of the Declaration. But it’s not just this historic document for which Adams should be remembered, but the very form of government which we enjoy right now is a living tribute to his forceful and persuasive genius. 

This biography is brilliantly told by McCullough through the first-person accounts of Adams’ vast quantity of letters, as well as the letters written to and about him, and the contemporary newspapers of the day. McCullough takes us back to Adams’ boyhood home to give us a good understanding of the upbringing and family heritage that fueled his quest for learning and leading. From his first elected office, through his time in Europe advocating for the newly created United States of America, into his presidency, and then through his long retirement, Adams was tireless in his efforts to make this country the best it could be. 

For students of history or leadership, this is a remarkably insightful look into a man that was at the heart of so much of what characterizes our great nation today. I have other books about John Adams in my library, but David McCullough’s lengthy work is, in my opinion, the definitive source. 

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Book Reviews From 2020

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