Shocking Secrets of American History: 115 Surprising and Amusing Tales

bed9a0ebf5ac105597241716b77444341587343Shocking Secrets of American History: 115 Surprising and Amusing Tales by Bill Coate
My rating: 0.5 of 5 stars

Shocking Secrets of American History is a collection of 115 anecdotes over the course of history from the colonial period to the 20th Century written by Bill Coate. Subtitled as “115 Surprising and Amusing Tales”, this was anything but as nothing was shocking, surprising, or amusing. Besides that, there were incorrect historical information, typos, and at least one incorrect photo. For an author who taught history for sixth and eighth grade as well as college, this isn’t good product.

J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers

0828026629.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers by Brian Eugene Strayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Advent preacher when he joined the embryonic Seventh-day Adventist movement in 1852, John Norton Loughborough would spend the next 72 years as a preacher and administrator before being the last of the pioneers to pass leaving lasting legacy to the denomination only behind Joseph Bates and the Whites. Brian E. Strayer’s J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers is the first major biography of influential preacher, missionary, and Church historian that was a little man who cast a long shadow.

Strayer begins with an impressive family history that gives background not only to Loughborough but how he was raised, including the influence his grandfather had on his spiritual life, and how in his youth he was influenced by the Millerite message. Loughborough’s resulting spiritual wandering in the years after the Disappointment before deciding to become a “boy preacher” at age 17 among the Advent Christians then his introduction to Seventh-day movement and later conversion to Sabbath were give significant time as well. Yet 85% of the book took up Loughborough’s 72 years among the Seventh-day Adventist movement covering his time as a preacher, president of numerous conferences, missionary to fields both domestic and foreign, and finally Church historian who was the last link to the “early days” for 3rd- and 4th-generation Adventists in the late 1910s and 1920s. Throughout Loughborough’s relationships with other important and influential denominational leaders was examined including Ellen White whose admonishments were welcomed by Loughborough in contrast to other Adventist leaders some of whom would later leave and attack not only the denomination and White. Strayer covered in detail Loughborough’s fight against apostacy and his role as the first Church “historian” as well has the lasting influence he had in both areas among Adventists.

Given the place in denominational history that Loughborough, Strayer used a wide range of sources to give a thorough look at his subject including what surviving letters he could find (Loughborough burned his own) and Loughborough’s own diaries (that was saved by a nurse instead of destroyed upon his death). Unlike the only other biography of Loughborough that followed the subject’s own apologetic look at Adventist history, Strayer brought a critical eye to his subject including Loughborough’s Church history books that influenced Adventist historiography for half a century.

J. N. Loughborough is a well-written, well-researched look at the last pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Brian Strayer showed the large footprint and long shadow this “little man” had had until this very day. This is a highly recommended biography for anyone interested in Adventist history.

2019 Book Haul #4 “Birthday Edition”

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Retailer Amazon

So unless I go completely crazy in the last few months of the month, this will be my last haul of the year and basically it was a birthday present to myself because why not.

So let’s begin at the top. Both books are by Dr. Steven Collins that I decided to purchase after seeing YouTube videos about the topics these books are about.  The first is Let My People Go!: Using Historical Synchronisms to Identity the Pharaoh of the Exodus, which is pretty straightforward as Collins makes the case for a Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty (not the 19th Dynasty’s Ramesses II) being that of The Exodus.  The second is Discovering the City of Sodom: The Fascinating, True Account of the Discovery of the Old Testament’s Most Infamous City that Collins recounts his digs in Jordan and evidence he believes that he’s identified where Sodom was located.  These two book will be read in-between the Adventist Pioneer biographies I read on weekends.

The middle book is The War of Wars by Robert Harvey, subtitled The Epic Struggle Between Britain and France: 1789-1815, thus obviously covers the wars of Revolutionary/Napoleonic France against all those coalitions that Britain-led through it’s purse and later militarily.

The bottom are a part of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, his graphic novel series White Sand Volumes 1 & 2.  These two book will be the first read, given their short length, so you might see them appear sometime this week or next.

St. Thomas Aquinas On Law, Morality, and Politics

448838On Law, Morality, and Politics by Thomas Aquinas
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Combining the Neo-Platonist influenced theological and political thoughts of St. Augustine with Aristotelian influenced reasoning, St. Thomas Aquinas drastically changed medieval theology and political thought which would far-reaching consequences ever since. On Law, Morality, and Politics is a selection of excerpts from Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and two from On Kingship that provide the reader a glimpse at his thinking.

Of the roughly 280 pages in this collection, almost four-fifths of dedicated to the exploration of law and justice in various facets. The minute differences between types of law (divine, natural, and human) that Aquinas discusses in full then the various types of justice is a mind-numbing exercise of reading that almost makes one throw away the book. The final fifth of the book of selections features a little morality but mostly on politics from leadership to church-state relations of various types. With exception of the two selections from On Kingship, Aquinas’ style of listing objections to the points he is about to make then stating his opinion and finally replying to the previous objections is rather self-aggrandizing. Yet save for a short introduction, there was no commentary to help the layman reader to understand what Aquinas was saying—though in the last fifth of the book it was easier because Aquinas’ thoughts were straightforward compared to the law and justice sections—and making it hard to keep reading.

On Law, Morality, and Politics by St. Thomas Aquinas is a collection of excerpts, with two exceptions, from his most famous work yet only the last fifth of the book is clear cut and straightforward. The lack of commentary to help the read understand what Aquinas is trying to make clear and why it is important makes understanding the thinking of the man hard.

Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth

0544337999.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is vast and not everything was fully written out, however that doesn’t mean the incomplete material isn’t interesting. Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth is a complication various stories begun and partially revised by J.R.R. Tolkien then edited into a somewhat readable fashion, along with alternate versions, by his son Christopher that reveal backstories from all Ages of Tolkien’s world.

The first two-thirds of the book covers the First and Second Ages with focuses in the former on Tuor journey to Gondolin and more details to the Children of Hurin while the latter focused on various elements of Numenorian history and the history of Galadriel and Celeborn. The last third of the book focuses on the Third Age with background stories and histories to various events and people that feature in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings from the disaster at Gladden Field when Isildur dies and the One Ring is lost to the foundation of the friendship of Gondor and Rohan to the Battles of the Fords of Isen and Gandalf’s view of the Quest of Erebor and the Nazgul’s hunt for the One Ring. And on top of those backstories are histories on various people and items featured in the four books, namely the order of the Wizards.

Unlike The Silmarillion in which Christopher Tolkien edited his father’s writing into narrative chronicle, he left his father’s work unfinished and supplemented them with alternative versions that his father hadn’t rejected. This decision made the first two-thirds of the book a chore to get through or simple something to skim, however in the last third of the book the tales and histories were essentially complete with only some details not decided upon by the elder Tolkien before his death thus making for a better read. Frankly it’s this final third which is the highlight of the book especially anything related to the elder Tolkien’s most famous works, in particular is “The Quest of Erebor” that connects The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together than just the One Ring.

Like The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales is for hardcore Tolkien enthusiasts that want every detail they can get from J.R.R. Tolkien. Though the final third of the book has material that general readers might enjoy if they loved the author’s two well-known books, it might not be worth the money to buy this book new for it.

Tolkien

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush

1400067650.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Coming to the Oval Office at a critical time in foreign and domestic affairs, the Presidency of George H.W. Bush was filled with successes and failures but guided by a steady hand. Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham brings together independent historical research and interviews from the former President and numerous family members as well as political colleagues and advisories to bring the life and career of the 41st President to readers.

Meacham begins the biography with a family history of G.H.W. Bush’s father and mother showing how their lives were shaped that would influence their second son and made him the competitive though ego suppressing individual he was. Though Meacham gave overall historical background for certain situations, this was a book focusing on the life of G.H.W. Bush and what he did throughout his life from his post-war decision to forgo an easy career on Wall Street to join the oil business to Texas and being his own man in politics and not agree with everything his father Prescott believed while serving in the Senate. A political career that had as many defeats as victories, G.H.W. Bush’s path to the White House was through public service, especially throughout the 1970s especially in the diplomat sphere that would later impact his handling of foreign affairs of his Presidency. Meacham covers the Vice Presidential and Presidential terms in detail which cover over half the book before ending with the former President’s unique retirement as elder statesman and father of a serving President of the United States and an analysis of his relationship with his son during those years.

Taking roughly a decade of research, interviews, and writing Meacham presents a thoroughly well-rounded view of the 41st President, Barbara Bush, and their relationships with their children within reason. The elder Bush and Barbara allowed Meacham a free hand in written and this is evident in their attitudes to individuals being put in print and Meacham analysis of various controversies particularly Iran-Contra scandal. If there is one drawback is that at the time of publication the 41st President was still alive with several years left to live and express his views on things, but also a biography after the subjects death allows time afterwards to fully analyze their lives and that difference was evident.

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush is a very written and thorough biography of the 41st President of the United States. Like his other biographies, Jon Meacham’s research and analysis give a vivid description of his subject and his family. This is a highly recommended biography for anyone interested in the 41st President or the particular time in the 20th Century when he was in office.

2019 Reading Plan (October Update)

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What are you looking at?

Hello,

September was a surprising reading month as I completed four books for the month, which pushed me past my overall goal for the year.  But before we go into specifics, let’s look at my stats.

Overall Total: 47/45 (104.4%)
Original List: 32/45 (71.1%)
Total Pages: 21427 (455.9)

Once again I’ve achieved my overall goal for the year with plenty of time to spare, now I’m going to attempt to get my “original” list done or as much of it has possible. But on to that later.

So while reading my longest book ever and really making progress in Aquinas, I decided to read Nostradamus Predicts by Rene Noorbergen at home. Let’s just say, I’ve renewed reading Aquinas with a better appreciation in comparison but I’m also a bit worried for the future because I have two other books by Noorbergen (not about Nostradamus) on my shelf. I completed my longest book ever, Three Kingdoms a classic Chinese historical novel that covers the period before and during the titular time in Chinese history and frankly I enjoyed it even though it was 2339 pages over four volumes. I changed things up with the next Dirk Pitt book, Cyclops, which was a nice installment. The last book I completed was Call to Treason, or Jeff Rovin was told the series is ending after the next book so he doesn’t care and it showed.

This coming month I’ll first being reading Destiny and Power, the 2015 biography of George H. W. Bush by Jon Meacham, which I started at the end of last week. I’m actually progressing in Aquinas and so I’m optimist that I get it done in October. I believe I’ll time to read Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales before I go on vacation on the 19th.  And stated previously I will be reading The Curse of Oak Island before November 5, so I expect to start reading that sometime this month.

Well that pretty much covers it.

Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe by Chris DeRose
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire by Lawrence James
W.W. Prescott: Forgotten Giant of Adventism’s Second Generation by Gilbert M. Valentine^
Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die: How the Allies Won on D-Day by Giles Milton#
Raise the Titanic! (Dirk Pitt #4) by Clive Cussler
The Cosmic Code (Earth Chronicles #6) by Zecharia Sitchin
Divide and Conquer (Op-Center #7) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
John Harvey Kellogg: Pioneering Health Reformer by Richard W. Schwarz^
The Histories by Herodotus*
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen
Shadow & Claw (New Sun #1-2) by Gene Wolfe
The End of Days (Earth Chronicles #7) by Zecharia Sitchin
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Political Writings of St. Augustine*
E.J. Waggoner: From the Physician of Good News to the Agent of Division by Woodrow W. Whidden^
Women Warriors: An Expected History by Pamela D. Toler#
Vixen 03 (Dick Pitt #5) by Clive Cussler
Line of Control (Op-Center #8) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Peace and Turmoil (The Dark Shores #1) by Elliot Brooks+
World Mythology by Donna Rosenberg
The National Team by Caitlin Murray#
Sword & Citadel (New Sun #3-4) by Gene Wolfe
Politika (Power Plays #1) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Night Probe! (Dirk Pitt #6) by Clive Cussler
Mission of Honor (Op-Center #9) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America by Douglas Morgan^
English Constitutional Conflicts of the Seventeenth Century: 1603-89 by J.R. Tanner
Dune by Frank Herbert
Rebellion and Redemption by David Tasker^
ruthless.com (Power Plays #2) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The British Are Coming (The Revolution #1) by Rick Atkinson+
The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides*
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
Deep Six (Dirk Pitt #7) by Clive Cussler
Sea of Fire (Op-Center #10) by Jeff Rovin- REREAD
A.T. Jones: Point Man on Adventism’s Charismatic Frontier by George R. Knight^
The History of England (abridged) by Lord Macaulay
The Ghost, The Owl by Franco & Sara Richard+
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland by Kevin Crossley-Holland#
Shadow Watch (Power Plays #3) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
Redemption in Genesis by John S. Nixon^
Nostradamus Predicts The End of the World by Rene Noorbergen+
Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes by Luo Guanzhong
Cyclops (Dirk Pitt #8) by Clive Cussler
Call to Treason (Op-Center #11) by Jeff Rovin
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George H.W. Bush by Jon Meacham
Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bio-Strike (Power Plays #4) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck
Treasure (Dirk Pitt #9) by Clive Cussler
War of Eagles (Op-Center #12) by Jeff Rovin
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Cold War (Power Plays #5) by Jerome Preisler- REREAD
The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz
Dragon (Dirk Pitt #10) by Clive Cussler

On Law, Morality, and Politics by Thomas Aquinas
The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius

*= Original Home Read
^= Home Read
#= Giveaway Read
+= Random Insertion