The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin

2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction.

Dr. Greg Grandin is the 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction. His book was moved from the history category to the general nonfiction category by the Pulitzer Board.

Here’s my review/summary of the book. The book is well-argued, full of interesting history to back up his points and surprisingly, I found myself mostly agreeing with his arguments.

Basically, the book explains from the American revolution through Donald Trump’s election that American expansionism and our manifest destiny served as a pressure release point with expansionism allowing internal US political pressures to be deflected outwardly as opposed to being dealt with.

He makes his main point by arguing that Trump’s approach to the ordinary people where he argued that the government was not listening to and neglecting their concerns while taking care of themselves. This includes stating that part of the ordinary people not being heard or being taken care of was immigrants (illegal and maybe legal) which caused an upswing or racist nationalism, vocalized anger, and ultimately leads to Donald Trump’s election.

He uses the border was a kind of rallying point and metaphorical gravestone that marks the end of the real American dream of a country for all peoples of all beliefs. This is what he feels made America exceptional over the years and with the election of Trump, it is dead and buried with the wall as its tombstone.

Gene, Everywhere

Talya Boerner is a master storyteller.

Gene Everywhere took me back to the three-years period of time I was my 90 years-old father’s caregiver after my mother died. So much of what the author wrote tugged at the memories and experience I had with my father.

The prose is spectacular.

Talya’s prose is spectacular. Her picture painting and showing the story transport you into her home. You smell the smell, hear the sounds, and feel the genuine love she developed for her at times crotchety father-in-law. Without giving any spoilers, you’ll experience a beautiful story unfold, have your heartstrings tugged and be flooded by memories if you ever cared for a parent or parent in law. Again, the books’ prose is exceptional. I highly recommend the book.

Glimpsing Glory

Glimpsing Glory

With Glimpsing Glory: Poems of Living & Dying, Praying & Playing, Belonging & Longing, Catherine Lawton delivers luminous, Christian spiritual walk poetry that blends the daily journey with God and the beauty and glory of God’s created world. Broken in topical areas of relating, relating, communing, trusting, living, dying, praying and word-playing, we walk through experiencing “Water Under a Bridge,” seeing the sky above and the forest in “Nature,” and experience Maine “Together on an Island.”

We commune with God as nature, which He created sings back to God day and night in “The Stars Sing.” We hunger for the first taste of fresh strawberries in “Spring Time.” I particularly enjoyed how a backyard bird sees Christmas in “What Is Coming to Our World?”

You’ll find yourself drawn much closer to God and His mercy through poems like “In The Morning,” which remind you that his mercy comes. “High School Class Reunion” will have you climbing into the memories of your mind thinking back to your similar experiences. I love how many of the poems unapologetically point to and honor God, of which “Glory” is an example.

You’ll find your heartstring pulled in “Bedside Vigils,” where I was reminded of the birth of my three children, being with my parents, and later my wife at their passing into eternity and their entry into heaven. Memories reminded me of my experience of “stroking the pale cheek.”

So many of the poems provided moments of prayer for me. “Love Song of The King” spoke to me. The line “The Singer because he is Song” had me remember the late Calvin Miller’s Singer Trilogy. The section on prayer demonstrated a long, intimate walk with the Father by our author Catherine Lawton.

I also loved “Coulda, Woulda, and Shoulda,” as it reminds us that “God loves you all the time.” I loved the poem so much I read it at a recent open-mic night at my local bookstore.”

Catherine Lawton has written a stunning poetry collection that will have you returning time and time to dip into her mastery and the majesty of her word magic. You’ll again share time with God and His creation as you recall and navigate through life’s journey with the author as your guide.

You can purchase the book at Glimpsing Glory: Poems of Living & Dying, Praying & Playing, Belonging & Longing.

He Won’t Let You Down

Did You Know God is Faithful? 

Yes, God is faithful. He won’t let you down. God’s word says in 1 Corinthians 1:9 English Standard Version (ESV), “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Definition of Faithful

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives this definition of faithful. The definition of faithful:

  1. Steadfast in affection or allegiance: LOYAL a faithful friend
  2. Firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: CONSCIENTIOUS a faithful employee
  3. Given with strong assurance: BINDING a faithful promise
  4. True to the facts, to a standard, or to an original a faithful copy
  5. Obsolete definition of faithful: full of faith

What Does it Mean to be Faithful?

  • It means to be reliable.
  • It means to be trustworthy
  • It means to be dependable 
  • It means to be consistent.

Four Ways God is faithful.

1. God is Faithful To Protect

Psalm 34:4 ESV, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Takeaway: “I sought the Lord.” If you seek the Lord you will find that God is faithful.

Psalm 34:17-19 ESV, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Takeaway: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” If you cry to the Lord, he hears  and delivers. He is faithful.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Takeaway: God is faithful. When you are fearful remember he has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. He is faithful.

2. God is Faithful To Pardon

1 John 1:9 ESV, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Takeaway: “If we confess our sins …” God is faithful. God is faithful

3. God is Faithful To Provide

Philippians 4:18 ESV, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Takeaway: God will supply every need of yours” (not your greed). God is faithful.

4. God is Faithful To Preserve (that is to Keep Us Safe).

1 Peter 5:10 ESV, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Psalm 57:1 ESV, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.”

Takeaway: “I will take refuge” (in God). When you do he will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Yes, God is faithful.

I am reminded of a little acrostic I have heard many preachers use. It is GRACE. It stands for:

G – Gods

R – riches

A – at

C – Christ’s

E – expense.

Others may let you down but God promises to be faithful. Yes, God is faithful. 


Video Source: From YouTube. Fountainview Academy, British Columbia, Canada. Fountanview Academy is a Christian high school based in southern British Columbia, Canada, which holds Province of BC Ministry of Education accreditation. Students from all over the world are attracted to Fountainview because of its balanced approach to education. Each staff member is personally committed to the eternal success of every student, and together they strive for the highest standards in every respect.

The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II by Charles B. MacDonald

An Excellent General Military History

“The Mighty Endeavor: American Armed Forces in the European Theater in World War II” by Charles B. MacDonald is an excellent general military history of the US forces in Europe in WWII. Mr. MacDonald served as a Company Commander in the 2nd Infantry Division during World War II. He also was one of the US Army’s official historians of World War II.

This lengthy book is an excellent general military history of the United States forces in Europe in World War II. It tells what the forces did and how they did it while not being pedantic. He includes many of the needed details that are necessary for understanding how the US Army was composed and armed. They are foundational to understand how command decisions were made. This background really helps with an understanding of the political and personal rivalries that were an important part of World War Two’s history.

Written With an Operational Level View

Most of the book is written with a view of the operational level. MacDonald does this skillfully keeping it in the context of what was happening at the corps, army, and army group level, as well as in the realm of the overall strategy.

The author includes many descriptions of small battles, down to the company level. They serve to make readers understand, just what was happening on the ground once higher-level decisions were made.

The book’s scope is the American effort in the European Theater in World War II. Beginning in North Africa and ending on the Elbe River, Charles MacDonald describes the development and growth of the American soldiers, sailors, and airmen as they became essential players in the destruction of Nazi Germany. Included are the famous battles and campaigns like the landing in North Africa, Kasserine Pass, Salerno and Anzio, D-Day, the liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine, and the race across Germany. The subject matter of the book is very comprehensive. I like that he included the conflicts between American and other Allied leaders over strategy, the important Battle of the Atlantic, the air war, and the major land campaigns.

He does a great job starting with the delicate balance involved in the build-up to war, and the decision to concentrate on victory in Europe first. The famous personalities are described, including, Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, Mark W. Clark, Hitler, Mussolini, as well as other British and German military leaders which is informative and enlightening.

Stories of the Individual Soldiers

He does not neglect the stories of individual soldiers. They are included throughout the narrative.
The prose is solid and the text readable, having just the right amount of detail. The book is balanced, thought-provoking, very comprehensive, and provides context and perspective of these historic events.

If you only read one book on World War Two, this is the book you should read.

The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker

The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker is a passionate, elegantly written (maybe the most beautiful prose I have ever read), historical novel about amazing hope, redemption, and one man’s quest for enlightenment during the darkest times of World War II.

The setting is Germany. The time is 1942. The protagonist is Franciscan friar Anton Starzmann. The story finds Anton torn from his place in the world when his school is seized by the Nazis. He relocates to a small German hamlet.

The purpose of the move is a marriage of convenience. Anton needs a place to live. He weds Elisabeth Herter, a widow. She desires a marriage in name only to a man who can help support her and her three children. Anton seeks the union as a way to amend failing to shield his young students from the madness of the Nazis.

Neither Anton nor Elisabeth foresees their lives to be shaken once again by the inescapable rumble of war.

As Anton struggles to adjust to the roles of husband and father, he hears of the Red Orchestra. It is an underground network of militants plotting to assassinate Hitler.

While Elisabeth has reservations, Anton joins this army of shadows. As the SS discovers his schemes, Anton begins a final act of resistance that may cost him his life. He realizes his defiance to Hitler, the SS, and Nazis could cost him the new family he has come to love more than he ever thought imaginable.

The Ragged Edge of Night is the best book I read in 2018 and in years. Olivia Hawker has crafted a masterpiece for the ages.

The Sekhmet Bed (The She-King Series, Book 1) by Libbie Hawker

My Review:

I loved the book. Libbie Hawker is one of today’s best writers of historical fiction writers. She is without a doubt a master storyteller. She had my attention early and kept me turning the pages. Her research for the book was excellent. Several times I would Google something mentioned in the story an would find she was spot on historically. I recommend the book and am now reading book 2 in the series. Well done!

Book Summary:

Queen Ahmose knows her duty: to give the Pharaoh a son. But she is young and has just watched her closest friend die in childbirth. If the Pharaoh plants his seed in her she will die the same way, in a pool of blood, surrounded by wailing women. She has her husband’s love, but a king must have an heir…and even the Pharaoh’s patience will run out. Meanwhile, a lesser queen – Ahmose’s own sister – has given him three sweet, bright children, all of them boys. Ahmose knows her grasp on the Pharaoh’s heart is loosening.

Desperate, she begs the gods for courage to become a mother. They give her more than courage: she is granted a vision of a shining prince, her son – a gift for Egypt who will bring glory to the land. He will be more than the son of a king. He will be the son of the god Amun.

But when the child arrives, it’s a girl.

Ahmose knows the vision was not wrong. Her daughter Hatshepsut has a male soul, and Amun intends the girl to rule. But the Pharaoh will not scandalize Egypt by proclaiming a female successor. If she cannot convince the Pharaoh to accept Hatshepsut as his heir, everything Ahmose loves will be destroyed. ~Stephanie Dray, author of the critically acclaimed Lily of the Nile.  

Source of Book Summary: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12398627-the-sekhmet-bed

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.

I was me hooked early by the well-crafted story. It’s full of mystery, intrigue, and uses a premise I’ve never met before.  What’s the premise? Generational space travel by cloning.

The cloning isn’t to create multiple copies or versions of a person. Instead, it gives the ability for a person to live forever. When the person is cloned, the new body is twenty years of age. Through brain mapping, the memories, knowledge, and experience of the person forever increase as they have all the recollections and know-how of the old body they’ve replaced.

The book is too good not to read if you love science fiction filled with who done it. I dub Mur Lafferty the title of Master Storytelling goddess. No wonder the book was nominated for every sci-fi award. It is a murder mystery set in space with clones.

As I said, Mur Lafferty crafted an amazing sci-fi book with Six Wakes.


Photo Source: This is the front cover art for the book Six Wakes written by Mur Lafferty. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, Orbit Books, or the cover artist. It is used through Fair Use for the purpose of reviewing the book.

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara

Summary:

The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara is the second novel in his Second World War historical fiction trilogy of the European and Mediterranean Theater. He has a fourth book dealing with the Pacific Thater of World War II.

The Steel Wave’s theme is the planning and execution of Operation Overlord. Operation Overlord is the name of the Allied invasion of Northern France.

Character-based Story:

Jeff Shaara uses his familiar character-based story technique of examining the time period from the perspective of the historical figures and adding some composite fictional characters. His method works splendidly.

The Steel Wave is an appealing read. The novel’s pacing is energetic.  I never lost interest.

The author did his research. His insights into the difficulties faced by General Eisenhower, the different leaders, and the soldiers are spot on. He gives the reader an appreciation of the hazards and difficulties that faced the planners and soldiers of Operation Overlord.

We are taken into the discord, hesitations, and ultimate perils with which the Allied generals had to contend. He spends about the first half of the book with these issues.

The Ordinary Soldier’s POV Shown:

A very good job of showing the invasion from the perspective of the ordinary soldiers is made.  He shows how courage along with the ability to improvise when plans broke down lead to success.

This is excellent historical fiction about a well-known subject. The story is well told through the characters. I strongly recommend the book.

One Great Way To Write A Book Review

Keeping Track of What You Read

Over twenty-five years ago I read Louis L’Amour’s book, “Education of a Wandering Man.” L’Amour kept a journal recording the books he read year by year.

About the same time, I attended a writer’s conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Christian author Dr. Calvin Miller was the featured speaker. He also mentioned keeping track of what you read. He suggested writing a one-page summary and your thoughts about the book. I thought L’Amour and Miller’s ideas were good. I added a twist of my own. Instead of just a summary, I wrote a brief book review.

An Editor Approached Me About Writing Book Reviews

In the late 1980s, a magazine editor approached me about writing book reviews. At the time, I was an associate pastor and Christian school principal at First Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas. I edited our church newsletter. In addition to writing a weekly column, I wrote and included reviews of Christian books from time to time. The book review became a popular feature. It significantly increased sales of the reviewed book at our local Christian bookstore. The magazine editor received my church newsletter and read my reviews. He asked me to write reviews for his publication. I started receiving review copies of books in the mail. Free books! For a reader like me, it was wonderful.

Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews

In 2003, I started Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. Since then I have read and reviewed hundreds of military history or military historical fiction books, about 22 per year. The website was named a “100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs” by OnlineSchool.org in 2009. I receive over 25 requests a month to read and review books. I accept very few of the requests.

What Do I Get Out of It?

First, I get the satisfaction of reading the book. I love reading and history. This is a great way to read new material and get review copies of the books.

Second, I share my love for history in general and military history specifically.

Third, I try to be a good finder in what I read. I will read the entire book. Sometimes it is a struggle, but I look for the good.  I do not say it is wonderful if it is tough to read, but I do not read looking for the bad.  I am blessed getting to review the books. A few times, I will not post a review, instead of giving a one-star review. Most authors prefer no review for a bad review.

In recent days, the newspapers and the Internet have had negative articles about some book reviews. Regarding any review, I have written on Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews; I received no payment. The only compensation was the book that I read. The publisher, author, publicists, or media groups sent it to me or I purchased it.

One Great Way to Write a Book Review 

Read the book.

I know; it seems obvious, but read the book! You might find out the author did a very good job. He or she probably invested one to four years of their lives in the book project, so read the book.  Do not even think about writing a review of something you only skimmed or only partially read. Reading the book is critical to a good review.

Know what you are reading.

If you don’t understand the book or subject area you are going to write about, you cannot write a good review. If you are reading a nonfiction book on a topic you know little about, make some effort to learn something about the topic. I write military history book reviews.  I have a formal background in history with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. My emphasis was in military history. I am widely read in history with a general background in all areas of English History and United States history. I am a serious student of US Military History.

Make notes about what you read.

You may want to make note of key phrase or sentences as you meet them. You can quote them in the review. As you read, ask yourself:

Who is telling the story? Is it in first person or third person?

What is the book’s genre? Narrative history, historical fiction, memoir?

What about the style of writing? Is the author a good storyteller? Is it serious scholarship with footnote after footnote? Is the style conversational or is it full of big words that need a dictionary at your side? Does it paint a word picture in your mind? When was it written? Was there a ghostwriter or co-author?

Does the book touch your heart and mind? Does it move you to an emotional or volitional climax about the topic?

Keep track of the story-line or chronology of the book. It will help you when reading long, complicated works.

Know the author and his or her works.

When you finished gathering the information, and you have enough notes, then you are ready to write the article.

Start with an introduction. The way you start will depend on your target audience. Consider beginning with a paragraph that describes your first impression of the work, or an interesting story that you had experienced through the book, or a more technical introduction where you briefly state the author, title, publisher, and any other information about the book you see pertinently.  I like to ask a thought-provoking question. An example is “Have you ever wondered what it would be like being a marine in Iraq?” It gets the reader thinking. Give a brief history of the author with some relevant information such as earlier works and awards.

Cover the structure of the book without giving away the plot or ending.

Explain your opinion of the book and give a summary of the review.

Finish by recommending the book. State who would benefit and enjoy the book, using general terms (students, veterans, seniors).

I like to tell the reader where and how they can get the book.

Include your full name in the end with the date of the review. On my book review site, I allow feedback. I have had a few authors contact and challenge me. I have had some authors point out grammar or spelling errors I have made in the review.

An example of the most frequent comment is in the words of David Laskin of the University of Washington. He wrote, “The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War.” He thanked me for reading the book. He said concerning my review that he had no doubt I had read the book. By the way, the book was amazing.


Originally Publication: Author Culture
Publication URL: http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2014/10/one-great-way-to-write-book-review.html
Date Retrieved: July 31, 2018
Original Publication Date: Monday, October 6, 2014
Photo Source: Pixabay