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Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
Anselm of Canterbury
Leaves of Grass: First and "Death-Bed" Editions (Barnes & Noble Classics)
Karen Karbiener, Walt Whitman
Progress: 284/960 pages
Legends (Tales from the Eternal Archives, Book 1)
Jane Lindskold, Robert J. Harris, Margaret Weis, Robyn Fielder, Robin Crew, Deborah Turner Harris, Peter Schweighofer, Kevin Stein, Dennis L. McKiernan, Matthew Stover, Janet Pack, Brian M. Thomsen, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kristin Schwengel, John Helfer, Gary A. Braunbe

Laying Down the Law

Laying Down the Law - Keith Augustus Burton

One of the most contentious issues debated between Christian theologians is “the Law” and its place within Christianity.  In Laying Down the Law, Keith Augustus Burton looks at the misconceptions surrounding God’s Law and puts the spotlight on it’s real meaning, love.  Through 157 pages Burton tackles such topics as legalism, dispensationalism, the meaning of Paul’s writing on the Law, and so much more over 13 chapters using Bible verses, the culture of biblical times, and personal stories that begin and end each chapter to illustrate the topic covered.  After reading this book, one will see God’s Law in whole new light.

Lord of Light

Lord of Light (SF Masterworks, #07) - Roger Zelazny

The hope of a prosperous future of human colonists on an alien world who for generations have believed they were looked out for and ruled over by the gods, is one named—among other things—Sam.  Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny follows the struggle of one individual to throw off the tyrannical rulers of a colonized world posing as Hindu deities that he’s known for years and the strange allies he makes along the way.

 

The deathgod and technological mastermind Yama finds the soul of Sam from the ionosphere of the colonized planet that remnants from Earth settled centuries before.   Sam has through numerous names and plans slowly undermined the rule of ‘Heaven’, those crewmembers who over the centuries have fought the indigenous lifeforms of the world to make a place for man and then ruling them as gods as they used genetic manipulation and technology to gain powers.  Though not originally opposed to his fellow crewmembers, their sudden radical shift from benevolence to tyranny makes him rebel.  Through the years, Sam becomes the Buddha and as a way to undermine the hope of rebirth, then he unleashes the Rakasha that he had bound through his powers, then when given the opportunity he spreads his message in the Celestial City of the gods before being “killed”, then after stealing a body from another god about to be reincarnated he kills two high leaders then leads an allied army to battle the gods in which he loses and his soul is sent to the ionosphere.  After his return Sam leads another army, this time in league with the gods to face an insane crewmember with a zombie army that ultimately leads to Sam’s goal of the colonists allowed to determine their own fates.

 

Zelazny’s story explored some really big ideas of technology, politics, and religion throughout the book that intertwined with one another as the narrative progressed to build the world.  Yet at many times the world wasn’t built enough and leads confusion at important parts of the story that hurt the overall quality of the book.  While Sam and a few characters are developed, many others really aren’t which hurts the overall quality of the book as well.  But the biggest personal frustration was that the two big battles of the book aren’t impressive as the language wanted to give the impression of, it was a letdown after the long buildup of Sam’s plan.  These three issues are both good and bad for the book, which makes me feel that if this book had been longer to develop more of the characters, the description of the technology, and more battle details.

 

Lord of Light is based on the imaginative idea of human colony being ruled by fellow humans who pose as Hindu deities and a man who decides to let the colonist develop on their own.  Roger Zelazny’s writing style isn’t perfect and while I have problems with the book, if I had choice to reread the book.

Game Plan

Game Plan - Thomas J. Dygard

The Barton High Tigers’ head coach is injured and everyone is worried who’ll be the coach for Friday’s upcoming game, enter the student manager.  Game Plan by Thomas J. Dygard follows Beano Hatton as he is propelled from nobody student manager to acting coach with all the pressures of school work and getting players to follow his lead, all while figuring out how to actually coach and prepare for a game.

 

Except for the first chapter, the narrative follows Beano Hatton beginning for being called to the principal’s office for the first time in his life—though not the last he’d have that week—and being asked to coach the Tigers football team against rivals Carterville.  Except for telling his best friend Danny to cover for him as student manager, Beano keeps quiet until the Principal gives the team the news and hands it over to Beano.  What follows is an awkward, stressful week as Beano figures out how Coach Pritchard scouts and makes up game plans while at the same time attempting to get the team to follow his lead, easier said than done with the star quarterback having an issue with him.  But once Friday night comes and the ball is kicked, Beano has to manage the game.

 

From kickoff to the final whistle, Dygard writes a convincing flow of a football game which after the narrative build-up before and through the game of Beano making coaching decisions makes for a thrilling last third of the book.  The first two-thirds of the book reads like a made-for-television young adult movie, but actually good.  Though some of Dygard’s dialogue and words choices are a little off, they would be far superior to what one would hear and see on the aforementioned movie.  The only other fault would be Dygard basically not having Coach Pritchard not have any notes on upcoming opponents which sounds far-fetched even for a little town high school coach with a staff of one.

 

Game Plan is one of those young adult sports books that is simply a good read that can be done in a day because it draws you in and frankly is nearly perfect for a book of its genre.  Thomas J. Dygard hits all the right narrative keys to make this book keep the reader interested in how a nobody student manages to gain enough confidence of the football team to lead them through the last game of the season.

Tournament Upstart

Tournament Upstart - Thomas J. Dygard

A small-town basketball team is playing against teams from the big cities looking to shock the state of Arkansas.  Tournament Upstart by Thomas J. Dygard follows a little Class B team that’s decided to play against the big boys of Class A for the state championship, unfortunately not only do they have those teams to contend with but also their own internal struggles.

 

Taken from the perspective of their 23-year old rookie coach Floyd Bentley, the Cedar Grove Falcons arrive at Talbott State University trying not to be overawed by the big arena or facing the defending state champions in the quarterfinals.  But after their upset victory, season-long tensions among the players boil up to the surface after Floyd’s inexperience with such a big event occurs.  Over the next two days, Floyd attempts to get everyone back on the same page on the team even as they achieve another upset and then battle for the state championship that comes down to the final shot.

 

While the game action is well written, the basic set up at the beginning of the book—primarily how a team could go up a Class and the tournament still have the correct amount of teams—quickly raised questions followed closely by Floyd’s “mistake” which didn’t make much sense if you looked hard at it.  The internal divisions were not bad, but they did strain the narrative somewhat.

 

Overall Tournament Upstart had a good premise but the young adult narrative quickly falls apart if looked at too closely.  It’s not bad, but I’ve read other of Dygard’s work that I better.

Kings & Queens of England and Scotland

Kings & Queens of England and Scotland - DK Publishing;Plantagenet Somerset Fry

Kings & Queens of England and Scotland by Plantagenet Somerset Fry is a 96-page concise reference book about the monarchs of England, Scotland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom.  Though is primarily focused on the monarchs of England (and successor unions) with each ruler getting their own individual article from 1066-to-present, while the Scottish monarchs were only briefly covered in comparison.  Not all the information given in monarch articles is correct, at least to those readers well versed in history, but overall the book is a good reference book.

William Shakespeare's Jedi the Last (William Shakespeare's Star Wars Part the Eighth)

William Shakespeare's Jedi the Last: Star Wars' Part the Eighth - Ian Doescher

The fallout from the First Order’s destruction of the New Republic’s capital and the Resistance’s destruction of her enemy’s superweapon even as they look to bring Luke Skywalker back in William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last by Ian Doescher.  Beginning almost immediately after the previous film, the middle installment of the sequel trilogy finds the First Order looking to takeout the remnant of their opponents only this adaptation is not on screen or a book but on the stage in Elizabethan prose as Shakespeare would have written.

 

Adapting The Last Jedi was definitely the hardest Star Wars film that Doescher had to deal with because of the how awful the Rian Johnson written-direction film is.  There is only so much Doescher could do to make this adaptation to make it readable, unlike The Phantom of Menace in which he only had to develop Jar Jar Binks.  He had to salvage so many poorly written characters, including those long established like Leia and Luke as those newly introduced, that to even have this published in a timely manner meant he could only polish them so much.  Since this is a review of the adaptation and not the film, I will applaud the excellent work Doescher did in making the at times bad dialogue into some more passable, the continuation of footnoting translations of Chewbecca’s few lines, and great narratives for the fight scenes.  However I must also commend Doescher for the wonderful easter eggs in reference to James Bond, Rogue One, and yes the sly acknowledgements that Johnson underdeveloped or ruined so many characters in particular Rey.

 

Jedi the Last is the most controversial film of the franchise and Ian Doescher did the best job he could in making it into a passable stage play in the style of William Shakespeare.  As a result my rating is celebration of Doescher’s hardwork and like the rest of the Star Wars fandom we look for to what he must deal with in Episode IX.

The Book of Acts

The Book of Acts - Wilson Paroschi

The Acts of the Apostles follows the men who in three decades totally changed the world by spreading the gospel of Christ first in Jerusalem then Judea and Samaria and finally to the entire world.  Wilson Paroschi’s The Book of Acts is a supplement for the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (3rd Quarter) of the same name and at 128 pages is not intended to be commentary on Acts, but it is a valuable study guide regardless if you starting the Bible with or without the corresponding Sabbath School Quarterly.  And for further study, Paroschi ends the book with a list of recommendations for further study of not only Acts and the events that take place but the early Church as well.

The Histories (Tacitus)

The Histories (Oxford World's Classics) - Tacitus;W. H. Fyfe, D.S. Levene, Tacitus

The death of Nero begins a Roman bloodletting that Augustus had thought he had completely ended as four men will within a year claim the title Emperor.  The Histories by Tacitus follows the aftermath of Nero’s death as a succession of men claimed the throne until the Flavians emerge to return the Roman Peace.

 

Tacitus begins his work with those who had prospered under Nero worrying for themselves while the rest of the populace celebrated and setting the stage for the eventual assassination for Galba and the rise of Otho, who the former had passed over as his chosen successor.  Yet at the time of his death Galba was facing a mutiny on the German frontier that had installed Vitellius as their choice as emperor, a task that Otho took to quash and retain his own throne.  The invasion of Italy by Vitellius’ legions brought war to the core of empire for the first time in almost a century and witnessed the defeat of Otho’s forces before he committed suicide.  The rise of Vitellius brought Vespasian, the leader of the legions fighting the Jewish War, into the fray as he accepted the proclamation of his legions as emperor and soon found the supporters of Otho and others joining him.  After the crushing defeat of his forces, Vitellius attempted to abdicate but the Guards wouldn’t let him resulting in his death by Vespasian’s soldiers.  On top of civil war in Italy and the final phase of the Jewish War under Titus, a Gallo-German uprising at first claiming support for Vespasian became an invasion and rebellion that took numerous legions to suppress and the aftermath would be alluded to in Tacitus’ own Germany.

 

Although The Histories are incomplete, from the beginning Tacitus brings his aristocratic ideology and politics in focus early by showing only someone with political realism and firm hand on the legions can prevent civil wars and the rioting of the masses.  The writing is quick-paced, going hand in hand with the rapid succession of events but Tacitus does give excellent portraits on the prime actors in this historical drama the played across the Roman world.  The only thing a historian would have against Tacitus would be the twisting of the chronology to suit his own purposes.  Yet like Agricola and Germany, my biggest complaint is how Oxford World Classics edition is structured with the Notes at the very end of the piece and making the reader use two bookmarks so they could go back and forth.

 

The Histories, the first of Tacitus’ two large scale historical works, shows the horrors of civil war and the according to Tacitus the dangers of leader who cannot control the legions and masses.  Even though the we are missing over two-thirds of the overall work, the portion we have that covers the Year of Four Emperors shows the breakdown of society in vacuum of strong leadership that is important not only in that time but throughout all of history including down to our own time.

Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism

Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-Day Adventism - George R. Knight

While those who would eventually form the Seventh-day Adventist Church were Millerites, only one was influential in both that his work after the Great Disappointment would standout and provide the underpinnings of the eventual largest Adventist denomination.  Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism by George R. Knight is a comprehensive look at one of the most important men in the Adventism movement before and after October 1844.

 

Beginning with a young boy looking for adventure as a sailor, Knight fully covers the life of Joseph Bates until his death as a senior statesman of the Church he helped to found still looking to serve Christ.  In covering Bates career at sea, Knight pulls out traits—both potentially benefital and harmful—that would serve him as he preached the soon coming of Christ as part of the Millerite movement and later his development of Sabbatarian Adventism.  After retiring, Bates who had already shown a keen interest in reform, firstly himself and then his own ship’s crew, launched himself into numerous reform movements until he heard Advent message of William Miller and seeing it as the ultimate reform movement wholeheartedly went to spread the good news.  Though not a primary leader, he was a major secondary leader within the Millerites that both chaired conferences and went out preaching.  After the Great Disappointment of October 1844, Bates began studying and joined those Adventists that believed something did occur though not the fanatics that tainted this group of post-Disappointment Millerites.  It is at this point in which Knight carefully covers Bates life over a decade, though focused on a four year span in particular, in which Bates became both the first theologian and then first historian of Sabbatarian Adventism and would lay the foundations of essentially all major doctrines that set the Seventh-day Adventist Church apart from other denominations.  Knight covers Bates relationship with both James and Ellen White in full during this period and after as the trio would guide the “little flock” over the next two decades until his death.

 

In approximately 220 pages of text and reference, Knight use Bates’ own autobiography as well as research first discovered others including two of his own students to give the reader a full sense of the life of Joseph Bate as can be expected.  Though the book is not strictly chronological, Knight structures the book in such a way as to give an overview in a certain period of Bates life in one chapter and in the subsequent one focus on a particular aspect during that period with it most typically being theological in nature.  This keeps the book engaging for the general reader and not getting them bogged down or overwhelmed with detail of having a strictly chronological book from beginning to end.  Yet while these choices by Knight create a very good and readable book, there just seemed to be something off with his writing that made me feel that it was up to other books that he had authored.

 

Joseph Bates: The Real Founder of Seventh-day Adventism is a very good book for those, whether Seventh-day Adventists or not, looking to understand the history of denomination that Bates helped to found.  As the preeminent Seventh-day Adventist historian, George R. Knight presents the Bates the man of both virtues and flaws and how he shaped the Advent movement.  I highly recommend this book for those interested in SDA Church history.

Abraham's Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity

Abraham's Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity (Question and Answer Format) - Philip G. Samaan

Many Christians have no idea what the religion of Islam actually is and for many who have read the Old Testament, they forget that Islam began among the descendants of Abraham’s other son Ishmael.  Dr. Philip Samaan attempts to give Christians, in particular Seventh-day Adventists, a glimpse of actually Islam and Muslims in Abraham’s Other Son: Islam Among Judaism & Christianity.

 

The first two-thirds of the book Samaan focuses primarily on everything related to Islam beginning with Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael in the Biblical record before turning his attention to Muhammad as well as the rise and spread of Islam.  After the historical portion, Samaan then looks at the faith of Islam itself and its similarities and contrasts to Judaism and Christianity.  Then after covering Jesus in Islam, the book turns to focus on Christ for nearly the last third of the book until the last chapter covers how Christians—Seventh-day Adventists—can witness to both Muslims and Jews.

 

Born in Syria into an Orthodox Christian family, Samaan not only grew up amongst all three faiths but has studied them diligently bring extensive knowledge to this book.  However, while Samaan is particular knowledgeable on the subject went to write, it felt that he wrote parts of at least three different books in this roughly 280 page book.  Not that the material cover wasn’t insightful, but when the book ignored Islam for long stretches which felt weird given that it was to be the main topic.  While the book structure was a little surprising, the biggest drawback is the editing of the text which could have been tightened up in several spots and in some places were determinately to the understanding of what Samaan was discussing.

 

Abraham’s Other Son is an informative book on the history of Ishmael and his descendants in Muslims around the world.  While Philip Samaan’s book is not perfect, it is able to give Christians—not only Seventh-day Adventists—a true glimpse at what Islam really is and its relationship to Judaism and Christianity.

Balance of Power (Op-Center #5)

Balance of Power - Tom Clancy, Jeff Rovin, Steve Pieczenik

With ethnic tensions suddenly boiling to the surface, Spain looks like it might go the way of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union or be kept together by a strong man in the image of Franco until Op-Center is put into the crossfire.  Balance of Power, the fifth book of the Op-Center series written by Jeff Rovin, ghosting for the titular Tom Clancy, once again finds Op-Center operatives in the middle of an international crisis but this time one of their own is set up with deadly consequences and vengeance is on everyone’s mind only to find that taken away by a man who allowed the attack to happen in an effort to forge Spain in his own image.

 

Sent to Madrid to help negotiate between two ethnic factions of the country, Martha Mackell is murdered by an assassin contracted by the very people she had been sent to help.  The men who ordered her assassination are then killed on the orders of the Spanish Chief of Staff who is looking to become the next Franco by inciting ethnic riots around the country, especially in his native Castile.  With one of their own killed and a NATO ally tilting between violently separating and a totalitarian regime, Op-Center must do everything in their power with the help of local Interpol officers to contain the situation.  Yet Director Paul Hood must also confront a situation in his marriage while Darrel McCaskey, Op-Center’s FBI liaison deals with his old love interest an Interpol agent who decides to take out the would be Franco herself which complicates things with Striker and McCaskey personally.

 

Released in 1998, Balance of Power uses the tensions in Spain which resonates today given the situation in Catalonia and effectively conveys the tensions in the country.  Unlike the previous book in which a character’s stupidity—General Mike Rodgers—basically drove the plot, it was conspiracies against conspiracies with independent human actors fighting for their country, honor, and more driving the plot which was a vast improvement.  Maria Corneja, McCaskey’s ex and Interpol agent, is the most prominent secondary character and while she was fine overall, yet if you had changed her name to Mario (Italian I know) and “she” to “he” nothing would have changed—save the romantic angle—but to say Corneja was a man with tits would be going too far.  While there were little things here and there that seem like tiny plot holes, nothing really stood out as completely awful but if I were to choose the worst part of the book, it’s once again Paul and Sharon Hood’s marriage which has been choreographed to be doomed since the first book.

 

Like several books before it, Balance of Power is another Op-Center book with an intriguing plot idea but for once Jeff Rovin writes the characters and narrative to carry it instead of undermining it like the three previous installments.  While it’s not the greatest action thriller, it’s a solid story with interesting characters which is considerably better than all the other books in the series maybe even including the original Op-Center.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

The Apocalypse has arrived, but the fabled battle of Armageddon will not take place in the Middle East it’ll be in Oxfordshire unless a demon and an angel get their way.  Good Omens is from the combined writing of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett who take the well-trod path of end of the world novels and stand them on their head.

 

The demon Crowley is tasked with delivering the Antichrist to his family and ensuring his evil education, but his love of humanity makes him come clean to his friend, the angel Aziraphale who comes up with the brilliant plan to have both Good and Evil influence the child growing up.  On the child’s eleventh birthday, Crowley and Aziraphale find out that there had been a mix up at the hospital and they race to find the Antichrist along with Heaven, Hell, and the Four Horsemen who are gathered from around the world.  And in the little town of Lower Tadfield, Adam Young and his gang (Them) as well the witch Anathema Device and the witchfinder Newt Pulsifer have their own roles to play in the Final Battle as it draws nigh.

 

The combined talents of Gaiman and Pratchett work seamlessly, especially when the reader learns at the end of this particular edition of how the two worked together, and create a fantastic satire of the end of the world and all the tropes that go along with it.  Though the humor is good, some of it is a bit dated and so some jokes fall flat which is the only downside to this really good book.

 

If you are either a fan of Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett and haven’t read this book yet, then I highly encourage you to do so.  Good Omens is the perfect blend of both authors and you’ll find it highly enjoyable, save for the few out of date jokes.  If you’re simply a fan of satire, then give this book and its riffing of a certain supernatural horror film from the 1970s a good read.

Ulysses

Ulysses - James Joyce, Cedric Watts

The life of the everyman in a single day in Dublin is the basic premise of James Joyce’s Ulysses, yet this is an oversimplification of the much deeper work that if you are not careful can quickly spiral down into a black hole of fruitless guesswork and analysis of what you are reading.

 

Joyce’s groundbreaking work is a parallel to Homer’s The Odyssey though in a modernist style that was defined by Joyce in this novel.  Though the primary character is Leonard Bloom, several other important secondary characters each take their turn in the spotlight but it is Bloom that the day revolves around.  However any echoes of Homer are many times hidden behind Joyce verbosity and stream-of-conscious writing that at times makes sense and at times completely baffles you.  Even with a little preparation the scale of what Joyce forces the reader to think about is overwhelming and frankly if you’re not careful, quickly derails your reading of the book until its better just to start skimming until the experience mercifully ends.

 

While my experience and opinion of this work might be lambasted by more literary intelligent reviewers, I would like to caution those casual readers like myself who think they might be ready to tackle this book.  Read other modernist authors like Conrad, Kafka, Woolf, Lawrence, and Faulkner whose works before and after the publication of Ulysses share the same literary movement but are not it’s definitive work.

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)

Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive - Brandon Sanderson

Traveling from the palace of the Azish emperor to the carved out city of Yeddaw, a young Knight Radiant stalks her would be executioner even as a danger to her world stalks the land.  Brandon Sanderson’s Edgedancer is a tale from the Stormlight Archive set in-between the second and third volumes of the main series as it shows the how Lift, the titular Edgedancer, and a long surviving Herald react to the Everstorm.

 

Feeling confined and unsure, the adventurous theft Lift travels to the city of Yeddaw to find more Radiants before they are murdered by Darkness.  The teenager displays her Edgedancer talents to draw the attention of her would be executioner while also exploring the city and trying to figure out its people.  Her tactics pay off as Darkness learns she’s in the city and she follows him to discover what he knows only to find out that Darkness has Radiant apprentices of his own including a man in white.  Eventually Lift is forced to use her connections with the Azish emperor to find out who Darkness is searching for only to discover that his apprentices had made a mistake and that the unlikeable woman Lift has had several encounters will is his target.  But it is during their confrontation that Lift convinces Darkness, the Herald Nale, that the Everstorm hitting the city means a new Desolation has arrived.

 

Although this book comes in at roughly 270 pages, the first 58 being a reprinting of Lift’s Interlude in Words of Radiance, the small hardback volume that it appears in makes it seem longer than it is.  In a postscript, Sanderson wrote that this novella was needed before both characters appear again in Oathbringer thus meaning for that anyone reading the series this short little story is something they might want to quickly read.  Given it’s short length, Sanderson packs a lot into it as he wants to describe the city of Yeddaw as well as continue to develop Lift—who he is not shy in saying he enjoys writing—in both her understanding of who she is and in giving readers hints about what the “Nightwatcher” gave her instead of her request to remain 10 years old.

 

Edgedancer is a quick, fun read about young adventurous character looking to figure herself out and in the process helping an age-old hero begin to regain his focus on what the world of Roshar needs.  Even though you’ll need to have read earlier volumes of the Stormlight Archive to understand the magical system and world it take place in.

The Stuart Age: England 1603-1714

The Stuart Age: England 1603-1714 - Barry Coward

After the act of the Tudors, how would the Stuarts follow up in ruling England?  Barry Coward covers the history of England between 1603 and 1714 in The Stuart Age giving the reading a comprehensive look at the developments across religion, economy, politics, and government while trying to dispel old assumptions and highlight new research.

 

Coward begins and ends the book with looking a statistical view England, at first looking how England developed through the early Stuarts to 1650 and then through the Interregnum and late Stuarts until the Hanoverian ascension.  The vast majority of the book covers the narrative flow of history of the period from the ascension of James VI of Scotland as James I of England after the death of Elizabeth to the death of his great-granddaughter Anne with all the twists and turns that happened within the domestic political arena that saw numerous failed attempts at Scottish union to disagreements between monarchs and parliament and finally the dispossessions of monarchs from the throne through execution and invited invasion then dictating who can take the throne.  Plus add in the events in Scotland and Ireland that played important roles at critical times that shaped events in England that made the century what it was.

 

The book is first and foremost an overview of the era with Coward attempting to give the events that took place their proper context in the evolution of government or religion or anything else related to “modern” Britain.  In doing this he set aside many myths about the era especially in the context of their times, he also gave context between “court” and “country” political establishments especially in relation to developments on the continent, i.e. the rise of absolutism and centralized government.  However, one of the drawbacks is that Coward would bring up other historians and juxtapose their theories on events without just simply making his own mark on the interpretation of the events.  Another feature which was lacking was that the military campaigns of especially the English Civil War, but also the continental wars, weren’t highlighted much especially since the Civil War was only covered in one whole chapter yet as an overview book it wasn’t unexpected.  And finally, as this edition of the book—the 2nd published in 1994—is almost 25 years old further research and debate has been missed out on.

 

The Stuart Age does its job fantastically well by giving an overview of the entire Stuart era that like other parts of English history seemed to be overshadowed by the proceeding Tudors.  Barry Coward’s layout of the period gives the reader perspective of the statistical elements of history that will influence the later narrative of the political and military events that make of the majority of the book then the aftereffects of those events on the same statistics, though slow in the beginning pays off and make this book pop.  If you’re looking for an overview of this period in English history, then you should consider this book.

Myths in Adventism: An Interpretive Study of Ellen White, Education, and Related Issues

Myths in Adventism: An Interpretive Study of Ellen White, Education, and Related Issues - George R. Knight

Myths pop up everywhere from history, to religion, and in the understanding of someone’s writing.  George R. Knight writes in Myths Adventism: An Interpretive Study of Ellen White, Education, and Related Issues about numerous issues that influence the thinking of Adventists educators and administrators.

 

Knight tackles 19 “myths” related to Adventist education, institutions, and thoughts over the course of 250 pages.  Beginning with myth related to “Historical and Philosophical” issues including those surrounding Ellen White, Knight clears up historical inaccuracies and puts Mrs. White’s writing not only in the context in which lines are written but what was going on at the time that made her write certain statements.  Knight then turned his attention to “Institutions and People” focusing on such issues the interplay between home and school, human nature, and intellectualism in Adventist education.  The largest section of the book about “Curriculum and Methods”, Knight focused on sacred and secular topics, Bible as textbook, literary subjects, religious instructions, in-classroom environments, and recreation and manual labor.

 

As a child of a retired Adventist teacher, I appreciated this book in seeing what my mother had to face over the course of approximately 35 years of her career.  Knight’s research and writing are fantastic throughout the book giving the reader amazing insights in how myths are given life in numerous fields and situations.  However, my problem with this book is not with Knight but with the publishers who in designing the book and blurbs made this book something it wasn’t.  The front cover blurb literally says, “A thoughtful look at misconceptions about Ellen White and Adventist life that have long caused controversy in the church” but nothing about education which is what the book is about and instead makes it appear it’ll be about numerous other things about Adventism.  Though Knight attempts to shield the publishers for their decision in the preface, it’s unfortunately makes the reader realize they might have gotten hoodwinked.

 

Overall Myths in Adventism is an insightful look at the cultural clashes in Adventist education by a writer that knows how to do research in Adventist history and education.  However even though George R. Knight is fantastic, the decisions of the publishers to make this book appear to be something that it’s not is very annoying and future readers need to know about it.