Category Archives: Book Reviews

These are books I have read that I review for the benefit of others who don’t enjoy reading as much as I do. Perhaps this section will assist you in selecting your next book. I hope so. I read EVERY word on EVERY page of the books I review. If I don’t particularly care for a book, I don’t review the book publicly, unless I make a unique exception. I read around a hundred book a year. Most of my reviews are here and on Amazon.

Bill reviews pre-publication manuscripts, and early release books for a variety of publishers and authors in the U.S. and abroad, literary PR firms and at the request of certain authors. He performs this service gratis, without any compensation whatsoever (he knows….he’s really stupid). Notable authors whose work Bill has reviewed include William P. (Paul) Young, Donald Miller, George Barna, Samantha Power, Parker Palmer, George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, John Wasik, Roger Lowenstein, Taylor Branch, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Jim Palmer, David Kinnaman, Irshad Manji, Eboo Patel, Mark Scandrette, and Erwin McManus. Bill has a policy of not publishing reviews of books he reads that he doesn’t particularly care for and is uncomfortable recommending to others ( “Literature is like ice cream….there’s a whole bunch of flavors and I have my own tastes that differ from others…some people adore chocolate while others prefer pecan nut”).

Stealing Glances by James Hepworth

Stealing Glances by James Hepworth

This volume is a set of three interviews with the legendary American writer – Wallace Stegner. It was published by the University of New Mexico Press.

This is my first reading of the work of James Hepworth – it won’t be my last. The access, insightful questions, and responses from Stegner are invaluable contributions to the life of any aspiring writer (and reader).

Hepworth is a former Professor of Humanities – teaching literature and writing at Lewis-Clark State College. He is well published and has a litany of awards for his writings. You can find an interview with Dr. Hepworth here.

This is a literary historical treasure. Enjoy! I certainly did. Trust me – you will too. Hepworth’s writing makes it a meal to remember. For more works by Wallace Stegner – go here.

Fortress Israel by Patrick Tyler

Patrick Tyler quotes former Israeli Prime Minister Sharett stating: “When military reactions outstrip in their severity the events that caused them, grave consequences are set in motion that widen the gulf and thrust our neighbors into the extremist camp.” (p.104). For me, this quote epitomizes the drone of the cycle of incessant violence, deception, death, corruption, disinformation, and oppression that has characterized the reality of Israel since its founding. The survival of a people and a nation is a complex and chaotic matter – when one is surrounded by those who seek your destruction.

In Fortress Israel, journalist Patrick Tyler provides unprecedented access to the “why, who, when and where” surrounding this ongoing reality.
Several months ago, I selected three books to read in an attempt to better understand the Arab-Israeli Conflict. These included: 1948 – The First Arab Israeli Conflict by Benny Morris (Yale University Press 2008 – A Winner of the National Jewish Book Awards). The second was Michael B. Oren’s ( Ballantine Books, NY — Random House 2002) entitled Six Days of War – June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Finally, Finally, I digested The Yom Kippur War – The Epic Encounter That Transformed The Middle East by Abraham Rabinovich (Shocken Books, New York 2004).

Honestly, after reading the volumes above, Patrick Tyler’s Fortress Israel is the book I would recommend to you to garner a sweeping yet intimate understanding of both the history and the trajectory of Israeli-Arab relations…particularly how the mindset and motivation of the military predominate the psyche of a nation — and its most significant actors – both known and unknown to the layperson.

This volume – FORTRESS ISRAEL – should be required reading for diplomats, U.S. State Department employees, any course in Middle East studies, graduate schools, foreign policy wonks, NGO’s, those who enjoy historical geopolitical thrillers – and those interested in continuing to explore pathways to peace in this region of our world.

Fortress Israel is a remarkable journalistic and literary accomplishment. It is an incredibly important contribution to the history of a region where there has been a void – where Fortress Israel now honorably resides.

I am also acutely aware – and duly disturbed – why this book garners a three star rating on Amazon: There are those who will defend the indefensible actions of Israel – no matter what the historical record reveals. Their reviews populate Amazon and other sites for books that examine the country, its people, the region and the conflicts that the rest of the world deserves to comprehend from an objective standpoint.
This is a “page-turner” – one of those rare pieces of historical investigative journalism where you are overcome with the desire for more as you finish the last page.

Fortress Israel

Fortress Israel is a FIVE STAR book – no doubt about it.

Odds Against Tomorrow – A Novel by Nathaniel Rich

A fast paced, page turning thrill ride through the catastrophe that strikes NYC — as told masterfully by Nathaniel Rich. I really enjoyed this story. The career migration of the main character from Wall Street to a future consulting practice as rather fascinating. (and rather realistic for strategic planners and those charged with charting a course for their companies tomorrow, today).

Nathaniel Rich can write. He is a very creative thinker. His descriptive narratives in certain parts of this work allow one to smell the surroundings he describes.

I’m a fan now. You will be too.

Odds Against Tomrrow

 

The Big Guy Upstairs by Rob Strong

First, an apology – I am way behind in reading and reviewing books graciously sent to me for review by VP and Publisher Wendy Grisham at Jericho Books. I am truly sorry Wendy and Jericho.

 

Rob Strong’s “The Big Guy Upstairs” is truly a luscious little book.  Rob is a natural story teller, eminently human, and shares some insights into the human dimension of the pastoral profession that I found both amusing, heart-wrenching, and refreshing.

 

This book is really all about “walking with God” – sharing the boots on the ground reality of “sharing with someone else” the experience of doing just that.

 

I adored this quote which captured the essence of this book for me:

“Experiencing God begins with grace and forgiveness. God is pushed to the edge of your life or relegated to the role as the “Big Guy Upstairs” because of your guilt or avoidance. But he doesn’t want you to feel he must be kept far away. He wants you to reach out and grab hold of him. He wants to walk life with you…you can experience life with him. God is right here with you.” (pp. 207-208).

Rob Strong demystifies and deconstructs the perception of “The Big Guy Upstairs” – a notion that prevents experiencing the intimacy available for far too many. Due to bad theology, poor experiences with life, others and self — Rob Strong tackles these issues head on, in a sensitive way filled with real-life  practical examples.

Like I said, a luscious little book, penned by a fellow I hope to meet some day. Rob Strong is the kind of guy you would want to have as a God Guide in life.

 

I’ll leave it at that.

 

The Big Guy Upstairs

Tomorrow’s World by Clint Laurent

This is a fascinating look at the future from a demographic perspective, utilizing all the tools available to Dr. Clint Laurent, Managing Director of Global Demographics, LTD.

For many, this book is likely too much information to be consumed as a selected reading. However, as a reference resource, this book is invaluable.  For those in the strategic planning arena in the private sector, I would have this book next to my desk as it is an essential tool in measuring the assumptions many will bring to the table in terms of prospective and potential markets to target in the next 20 years. Tomorrow’s World can be used as a comparative tool to test those assumptions against. This is particularly true for private sector companies authoring strategic growth plans where consumer products are a central revenue driver in international markets over the next two decades.

I found this to be a fascinating read, dispelling many notions I had held. Well written and structured to hold the readers interest, when demographic data can be a source of boredom.

A superbly crafted treatise.

Tomorrows World

The Beautiful and the Damned

Siddhartha Deb authors an expansive, heart breaking, riveting insight into the culture, people, past present and future of India….subtitle: “A Portrait of The New India.”

 

This is a disturbing book, particularly for those in the west who have no concept of the cultural nuances that inhabit Indian society today. I found this book informative and well worth the time invested reading it. Masterfully researched and written superbly.

Going to India? Read this book.

Sid Deb